The Final Essay Project
The final essay project for the seminar combines the well-established format of the research paper with the affordances of Web media. The final essay can be the key learning project in a graduate course, enabling you to synthesize concepts, methods, and approaches in your own way, and the essay will be used to evaluate how you can work the major topics and concepts of the seminar.
You will follow the argumentative essay structure for presenting your argument and hypotheses with the evidence, examples, research data, and cases that you can interpret and analyze to support your points and overall thesis. (Disciplines and sciences vary in the specifics of expected form, but follow the same expectations for argument and interpretation.) Unlike using a flat text, however, you will also be able to support your argument and ideas with “rich media” content for references, links, and embedded media (images, graphics, video, music).
What you are NOT Doing
You are not writing a “blog post” or a Wiki article. (WordPress is our content platform, not a blog.)
What You are Doing in the Final Essay
Like all research papers, your essay must be motivated by a research question or thesis with your own argument and interpretive framework supported by evidence, examples, cases and/or research data.
It’s always good to begin with the motive to figure something out, go deeper into the research, problems, questions, and interpretive frameworks for a topic that we began exploring in the seminar.
In your Bibliography or Works Cited / Works Consulted at the end, document all sources, references, and background on your topic, examples, and evidence. Your reference “bibliography” can include any relevant form of media that supports your argument. (Use embedded media only to support your argument or as key examples in your research.)
Using the approaches, theories, and methods in the seminar, develop a topic for an extended essay with examples or cases to interpret or apply your ideas. Your essay should present evidence and argument that draws on the research literature(s) of the relevant fields. Interdisciplinary work requires a statement of methods being used and combined.
In developing your thinking as a graduate student, it’s especially important to work out your own synthesis of theories, methods, approaches, and concepts that allow you to make discoveries and connect your work the larger conversation and questions that define the research communities you participate in.
Your essay should be about the equivalent of about 15 pages of traditional writing, and with a fully developed set of references and links to relevant sources. Be as creative as possible with the Web environment of your essay.
Required Structure for Presenting Your Argument
For the structure of your argument in a professional research essay (in any format), refer to my Writing to be Read: A Rhetoric For Writing in the Post-Digital Era. Follow the guidelines there for a successful structure to the presentation of your argument and research. This is the main required structure:
- Abstract: Most journal articles in all fields now require an abstract for a summary view of main points and findings. It’s good practice to get into the habit of writing an abstract for every paper. (Writing the abstract comes toward the end of the research and writing process for a project, and will help clarify your thinking and tighten up the written presentation.)
In 5-6 sentences, state your (1) your research question in a brief context of the field(s) you are working in; (2) your main point(s) or hypothesis, (3) key concepts, methods, and/or approaches you use; (4) the evidence, examples, and/or research data you will interpret.
- Introduction: establishing your topic and approach, stating your research question, and your main thesis [what the essay is about]. It’s good practice to summarize your main sources and methods that provide the framework for your thesis. Your thesis is a summary of your conclusion.
- Main body of the essay: paragraphs organized to support your argument with analysis, interpretation of cases, examples and/or evidence.
- Conclusion: wrap up your main point and significance of your work, how it connects to questions in the field you are working in.
- List of Web sources and links (you can combine with the whole bibliography if preferred)
- Bibliography, References, or Works Cited/Consulted List: all the relevant materials you have considered or want to reference to support your essay in a standard citation style (see below).
References and Citations
Like all research papers, you must use research sources that would be recognized in the field. This means, you cannot cite or quote Wikipedia articles or a non-specialist’s personal blog as references. (Wikipedia may be OK for basic fact checking, but it is not a primary source for research.)
Use the documentation format of either the humanities or social sciences. Refer to the following online guide for a quick summary of citation styles:
The Web Space for Your Essay
To set up your essay, simply create a new “post” and choose the “Final Essay” Category for your final project. Read other students’ essays from earlier semesters for good models: the essays that stand out will be those with a good structure to the argument and good use of research material and sources. You may also find references that you can use in your own research.
Using and Maintaining Your Essay After You Finish the Course
Your essay and the fixed URL for your page will remain available for reference, for linking (blogs, social media), and for job or academic applications in the future. You will be able to update and revise your essay for as long as you have access to the Georgetown Digital Commons with your GU NetID and password.
12.Examine two (or more) movies based on the same comic book character. Analyze the change in the character over the series, or examine the way two different actors and directors interpreted the character, motivations and plot (examples: Spiderman, X-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Justice League, Superman).
13. Look at a romantic comedy. Analyze how this genre draws the audience into the story. What makes a romantic comedy effective? (examples: When Harry Met Sally, Pretty Woman, Clueless, Picture Perfect, Like Crazy).
14. Choose your favorite horror movie to examine. What makes this such a good horror film? Analyze what elements this movie has that creates the experience of horror in the audience (examples: The Exorcist, Sleepy Hollow, The Silence of the Lambs, The Shining, Halloween).
15. What makes a good summer movie? Examine one of your favorite summer movies, a classic, or a hit from last summer. Analyze what makes a movie good for a summer release? What are the audience expectations. How well does this movie match what the audience has come to expect? (examples: Do the Right Thing, Caddyshack, Jaws, (500) Days of Summer).
16. Pick a "dumb" comedy. While these sorts of movies don't generally hold up as classic literature, they can make us laugh and be fun to watch with a group of friends. However, there is a fine line between funny dumb and stupid dumb. Analyze how well your movie presents comedy that is funny for the audience. What makes a movie like this work? (examples: Ted, Bad Santa, The Cable Guy, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America, The Hangover).
17. Choose a movie that one The Best Picture award. Analyze what makes a movie the best of that year and one of the best of all time. Does your movie have features that most best pictures do? What makes it unique? If it was produced this year, would it win again? (examples: Wings (1927/29-the first Best picture award), Gone With The Wind (1939), Ben Hur (1959), The Sound of Music (1965), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), The King's Speech (2001).
18. Choose a reality T.V. series: Analyze why people like these shows. Why are they so popular and what makes a reality T.V. show good or bad? Do these shows exploit the people who appear on them? Where should we draw the line? (examples: Toddlers and Tiaras, Biggest Loser, Survivor).
19. Choose a popular older T.V. sitcom. Research the current events happening at the time the show was produced. Analyze why the show was popular at that time. Did that shows humor last? Can audiences who watch it now still appreciate the humor? (examples: I Love Lucy, Cheers, M.A.S.H).
20. Examine a popular game show. Explain the history of the show. Analyze how the show works to make the game interesting not only for the contestants but also for the viewing audience. Was the key ingredient the set-up of the game show, the contestants, the host, the audience, viewer participation or some other factor? (examples: Let's Make Deal, Minute to Win it, Jeopardy).