MDSA01 – Critical Essay Assignment Guide
MDSA01 – Critical Essay Assignment Guide – Summer 2020
Synopsis: For this assignment, you will select ONE mass mediated text (i.e., film, television
show, advertisement, video game, song, literary work, magazine, newspaper, internet site, etc.),
research it, and write a 1,000 word critical analysis (approximately 4 pages) of the text that
utilizes one of the 12 theoretical perspectives explored in class (Marxist, organizational,
pragmatic, rhetorical, cultural, psychoanalytic, feminist, queer, reception, sociological, erotic, or
ecological). Your chosen media artifact should be no more than 2 years old (e.g., no earlier than
Note that there are sample student essays of this sort in the Appendix of your textbook. There is
a sample for each “lens” covered in class, so review to these, if you need inspiration. There is
also an FAQ guide for this assignment included on Quercus.
In terms of structure and general content, your paper should include, at a minimum:
1. A paper that begins by being properly formatted in accordance with APA 7 guidelines,
including a proper cover page.
a. A resource for this style guide can be found here: https://owl.excelsior.edu/
2. A one-paragraph introduction in which you:
a. introduce your media text;
b. comment upon its significance as an object of study;
c. formulate a clear and concise thesis statement (i.e., identify what your text is doing and
how it is doing it); and
d. preview your argument/paper.
A good introduction will orient your reader to the theory you will be using, will offer a claim
to be supported and suggest why that claim matters, and will briefly explain how your
chosen theory will support that claim.
3. A development paragraph that orients your reader to your chosen media text. Do not assume
your reader is familiar with the media you have chosen. Offer a brief synopsis and related
background information to ensure your reader understands what media you have chosen and
why it is relevant.
Note that this kind of paragraph usually follows the introduction, taking a “step back” to
describe or use your words to “show” your reader the media object before you begin
4. An analysis of your text using relevant principles discussed in class and the course text. The
goal of this section is to combine theory and astute critical observations effectively. This is
the body of your paper and should constitute the largest portion.
The body should be a series of paragraphs that are organized around major themes or aspects
of the theory and/or media text under examination. Your essay need not be a “5-paragraph”
essay; rather, your essay should have as many, or as few, paragraphs as needed to address the
major points of your claim. Each paragraph should be constructed around some specific
aspect of your argument, theory, and/or media artifact. Your paragraphs should have a
logical flow, and you are not encouraged “hard breaks” to organize your essay.
5. A critical conclusion in which you briefly reflect on the implications of your analysis. This
might include speculating about the role your text plays in political affairs, processes of
socialization, or North American culture generally. A good conclusion does more than
merely summarize or list what has been said in the essay. Rather, it should be used as a place
to emphasize the points that have been argued in a way that shows the reader why those
points and that argument are important. Ask yourself, “What is at stake in this analysis?
Why does this matter?” Then provide your answer for your reader in the form of a
6. A bibliography formatted in accordance with APA 7 standards. Your bibliography should
contain no fewer than three academic sources (e.g. sources from academic publishing houses
or peer-reviewed journals) in addition to the course text, as well as proper citation for your
media artifact, and any other resources used in constructing your essay. Your academic
sources can focus on the media text you’ve chosen (e.g., many popular films, television
shows, and entertainment genres have been written about in scholarly journals), on the
theoretical lens you have chosen, or on both of these. If you are unclear on what constitutes
an academic source, you are encouraged to speak to a librarian in the campus library, who
can help guide your research.
Grading Rubric: The critical essay will be assessed on comprehension of chosen media
theory (25%), application of theory to a media object (30%), use of scholarly/
academic resources (25%), correct citation in APA 7 format (10%), essay formatting
that conforms to APA 7 guidelines (5%), and overall quality of writing (5%).
Length: 1000 words of text in the essay, plus a separate title page and bibliography.
Format: Please follow APA 7 citation and style guidelines. A comprehensive guide to this format can be
found here: https://owl.excelsior.edu/citation-and-documentation/apa-style/ . Incorrect formatting and
citation will result in a point deduction of up to one full letter grade (10 points).
Saving and Submitting Your Essay: Please upload your essay (file name format: LastName,
FirstInitial, StudentNumber, CourseCode, EssayTitle) in one of the following
formats: .doc, .docx, or .pdf.