What in these texts intrigues, surprises, or provokes you?

In this assignment, you will bring together all of the skills we have been building in this course to compose a 5-page, argument-driven textual analysis of two media texts that belong to the same genre. In this essay, you will analyze how (and what) meaning is created through these texts’ use of two specific genre conventions. You will support your readings with three scholarly sources, one of which is provided to you below. Your paper should be organized around an argument-driven thesis and deploy specific textual evidence to support your readings of these media texts.

Tom Schatz argues that genres are “ritualistic narrative systems” that express social problem solving operations and explore ideological conflicts; therefore, you may want to approach your argument through an ideological frame common to both texts. After introducing your central framework and the argument you are making about your chosen genre/media texts, you should briefly identify recurring elements or conventions of the genre (such as character archetypes, narratives, settings, props, camerawork, sound, ideology, etc.). Then, narrow your scope to two elements and more thoroughly examine how they are utilized across your selected texts. Because this is a short essay, we don’t expect you to cover everything in 5 pages. The goal is to reveal subtleties or complexities that may have escaped other viewers through your comparative analysis.

Your analysis should draw on specific textual evidence to support your readings of these texts. Focus on an individual scene, sequence, episode (in the case of television), or story mission (in the case of video games) in your media text to back up your argument. If you’re choosing character archetypes, for example, focus on specific actions or behaviors by that character rather than a broad analysis of that character. This will form a more compelling case for your argument than extensive plot summaries.

Below are some guiding questions to help guide the brainstorming process:

What in these texts intrigues, surprises, or provokes you?
What collective values or ideological conflicts are exposed, reinforced, or critiqued within these texts?
How are specific genre conventions contributing to the meaning you are reading in your texts?
Is the text actively manipulating genre conventions, either working within or subverting them?
How does the media format affect how the story is told?
What specific scenes, moments, or examples best illustrate your points?

Your thesis should be provable, specific, and go deeper than a surface level reading of the genre and texts. When crafting a thesis, some questions you should ask yourself include: What are you trying to argue? What parts (specific scenes, elements of mise-en-scène, etc.) of the texts you’ve selected best support your argument? How do genres evolve over time and/or change when they move from one medium to another?
Budget your time, and start early. You will need to watch/play your chosen two texts multiple times, once for comprehension and a second time (at least) to take more detailed notes about particular scenes and genre components. Organizing these notes into clusters (looking for particular overlaps or aberrations) can help you determine your argument and how to best focus your analysis. For longer games, plan to play at least 1-2 hours to get a clear sense of how it is deploying genre conventions.
Writing is a discovery process – sometimes we don’t know the best way to articulate our thoughts until we sit down and start typing. Still, we strongly recommend that you outline your paper before you write. An outline forces you to think about structure and sequence: what idea belongs where, and how each paragraph will build on the prior ones.
There is no set rule for the number of paragraphs in your essay, nor for the number of sentences in each paragraph. However, there must be a unifying idea within each paragraph and this idea should be identified in the paragraph’s topic sentence. Give your reader a roadmap, and be attentive to transitioning between paragraphs and ideas.
Keep your tone objective and scholarly: this is not about whether you personally (dis)liked the texts you’re writing about, or found them to be “good” or “bad” examples of the genre you’ve selected. Assertions need to be backed up by evidence and analysis.
Presume that your reader has some vague familiarity with the media objects you’re analyzing, and your job is to get them to see the texts in a new way or consider particular elements in greater depth (in other words, don’t waste time with plot synopsis, focus on analysis).

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