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Anthropology E354, Popular Culture
Fall 2008, Dr. Mullins

Electra the electrocuted lady sideshow banner Your review essay should be a summary of any paper chosen from the list of review essays included on this web page. You may choose any of these essays, but you cannot select your own essay. Your review should outline and assess the paper's research question (i.e., what do they want to know), pertinence (i.e., how does this essay seem to contribute to historical and popular culture research), conclusions (i.e., both what they determine and possible directions for future research), and persuasiveness (i.e., do you find their conclusions cogent, are particular facets of the study more convincing than others, did you perceive contradictions in their conclusion, was it better than sliced bread [and if so why], and so on).

You have likely read many reviews in some form, and regardless of academic or popular format these reviews generally share the effort to provide some summary and critical appraisal of a text, movie, or other presentation. This review exercise paper, though, should not be modeled in expository style or intellectual tone on something like a book review in the Washington Post, where what passes for reviews typically are forced efforts at originality, cynical humor, or obstinate predispositions toward particular ways of writing or personalities. Instead, approach this as a written statement you would provide an academic colleague so that they could evaluate what this paper is about and whether it is pertinent to their own research interests. This sounds a bit more dry, but the review should demonstrate your comprehension of the paper, clearly outline what it is about, and provide some sense of how you personally viewed this research and its conclusions. Of course you can and should be critical of a paper which you do not like, but be specific about the sources of your discontent; i.e., "this paper stinks" is not sufficient, but a review which more or less says the paper stinks because of specific elements of the method, presentation, or conclusions is reasonable.

There are some basic issues to consider as you prepare your review. First, did you basically like the paper? Was the subject of interest to you? Why or why not? Was the paper clear to you? How and why was it clear, and if it was not clear, it what specific ways was it confused? Second, who do you suppose is the intended audience for the paper? What suggests this to you? Does the format and style of the paper work for a wide audience, or does it have presentation details which make it seem particularly specialized? Third, what are the writer's research objectives, what we usually refer to as the research question? How clearly is this question stated? Are there research objectives or methods which are not clear to you? Specifically how might they be made more clear? Did the writer specifically address the paper's stated questions in the conclusion? Do you find the paper's conclusions persuasive? Fourth, how well is the paper written? For example, how does the paper flow from one idea to the other, or from data to interpretation? Does the paper have clear introductions and transitions, incorporation of quotes and technical details, etc? Is the evidence clearly analyzed in the paper? Does popular culture have a prominent role in the analysis?

In all cases, strive to be as specific as possible in your summary, referring to specific passages or elements of the paper to illustrate your analysis. Do not be vague or dismissive; if the paper is ambiguous, be clear about what you find difficult, or simply try another paper for the exercise. I will review drafts or discuss particular papers if you have any questions.

Ground rules

The review must be a minimum of three double-spaced pages in length, printed on one side only, with 1" margins on all sides, and font size no larger than 12 pitch--MOST ESSAYS WILL BE LONGER THAN THAT.  I will penalize papers that do not follow the guidelines.  Most reviews will be around four or five double-spaced pages in length. Unclear grammar, spelling errors, or other stylistic preparation problems will be considered as part of the paper's grade. Please staple the completed exercise in the upper left hand corner; clips and report covers do not reliably stay attached, elaborate origami-folded corners never stay together, and unstapled papers risk being separated in the pile. Please remember to put your name on the first page.

The paper is due on or before OCTOBER 16. Papers will be accepted until the end of the day in my mailbox. Papers turned in late will be penalized a letter grade for each day they are late, but you will receive credit, so do not bag the assignment even if you are late--partial credit is better than no credit.

Readings for Review Exercise

Review readings

You may choose any one of these readings for your review essay. These readings are on Oncourse or are linked directly from the syllabus below. Linked readings require that you log into the IUPUI University Library page with an IUPUI Network ID (i.e., a username and password) when accessing University Library's electronic resources from off-campus.  Try the E-Resource Troubleshooting page if you're having problems gaining access to any readings. You are NOT responsible for reading articles that you do not choose to review.

Bennett, Andy

1999 Subcultures or Neo-Tribes? Rethinking the Relationship between Youth, Style, and Musical TasteSociology 33(3):599-617.

Best, Steven and Douglas Kellner

1999 Rap, Black Rage, and Racial DifferenceEnculturation 2(2).  http://enculturation.gmu.edu/2_2/best-kellner.html

Bielby, William T.

2004 Rock in a Hard Place: Grassroots Cultural Production in the Post-Elvis EraAmerican Sociological Review 69(1):1-13.

Clouse, Abby

2008 Narratives of Value and the Antiques Roadshow: "A Game of Recognitions."  The Journal of Popular Culture 41(1):3-20.

Foreman, Murray

1992 Betrayal and Fear: Press Coverage of Canadian Skinheads.  Canadian Journal of Communication 17(2).

Genter, Robert

2007 "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility": Cold War Culture and the Birth of Marvel ComicsThe Journal of Popular Culture 40(6):953-978.

Halnon, Karen Bettez and Saundra Cohen

2006 Muscles, Motorcycles, and Tattoos: Gentrification in a New FrontierJournal of Consumer Culture 6(1):33-56.

Henry, Matthew

2007 "Don't Ask Me, I'm Just a Girl": Feminism, Female Identity, and The SimpsonsThe Journal of Popular Culture 40(2):272-303.

Kozinets, Robert V.

1997 "I Want to Believe": A Netnography of X-Philes' Subculture of Consumption.  Advances in Consumer Research 24:470-475.

Marcus, Greil

1975 Elvis: Presliad.  In Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock' n' Roll Music, pp.120-175.  4th edition.  Penguin, New York.  Oncourse

McLeod, Ken

2006 "We are the Champions": Masculinities, Sports and Popular Music Popular Music and Society 29(5):531-547.

Schouten, John W. and James H. McAlexander

1995 Subcultures of Consumption: An Ethnography of the New BikersThe Journal of Consumer Research 22(1):43-61. 

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Last updated July 10, 2008