Sample Papers

Here are links to a few examples of strong papers written by my previous students for the various short writing assignments throughout the semester.    I have also included a brief explanation of why I think these papers are good models to consider when you begin writing your papers for my class.  If you have questions about these papers, or about your own writing for the class, please talk to me in class, visit my office hours, or e-mail me at

Special thanks to the students who were willing to share their papers!

Cult of True Womanhood: Alive and Well In Cosmopolitan Magazine by Corey Hessinger

Corey's paper considers current images in advertising through a historical lens.  She takes specific examples from Cosmopolitan magazine (I have included scans of the particular ads) and explains how they connect to traditional stereotypical images and ideas about women.  The paper is well-organized around her key themes, and makes an excellent historical connection.  If you're talking about specific images, it's always a good idea to include them (or copies of them) with your paper.  In any case, you should provide a clear, detailed description of the images to help the reader understand your analysis.

Making Time for Bernie Mac by Meghan McNamara

Meghan's paper does a great analysis of the Bernie Mac show, which was in its first season while she was writing it.  Note how Meghan uses the first person, talking about her expectations and her experience of the show.  Don't be afraid to say "I" in your papers.  Your papers in this class are very much about your own relationship with the pop culture objects under study.  Meghan's paper is filled with details that help the reader understand her points, even if we haven't seen the show.  Again, I want to stress the importance of detailed description for these responses -- don't assume the reader has seen the show or the image you're analyzing. 

She is Already Dead by Kristen Pearson

Kristen's paper takes a creative approach to writing about Shape magazine.  It reminds me of an episode of Twilight Zone.  I encourage creative approaches -- try using different styles, voices, forms -- to these assignments, as they make for very entertaining reading.  I've provided Kristen's paper as an example of a paper that does something creative, but also covers the basic requirements of the assignment -- she has real analysis and critique here, but she has also had some fun with the paper.

Questioning the Media: Who Owns Who? by Heather Welch

Heather's paper is an analysis of People Magazine.  In the assignment, she focuses specifically on the advertisements.  She doesn't try to answer every question I asked on the assignment sheet, rather, she has a narrow focus that helps keep the paper organized and focused.  I particularly like the way that Heather has integrated our discussion of media consolidation into this essay.  She shares her discovery that People magazine "is nothing but a carefully organized booklet-form advertisement for the enormous media conglomerate AOL-Time Warner" and has done some careful research to track down the "owners" of each product.  Heather also used this paper as a starting point for her final project, which was a deeper exploration of AOL-Time Warner's media ownership.