Please find below the instructions regarding the essay component of SOC 202. Students are required to read through the entirety of the following document. Please reference this document regarding any questions you have in advance of emailing me. This allows me to continue to respond to emails quickly and keep my inbox from getting too full. Thank you, this really helps in keeping all four sections of the course moving smoothly.
The list of films below has been assembled in such a way that I offer a list of films (choose one) that reflect the sociology of popular cinema, as well as represents a diverse selection of films addressing issues pertinent to SOC 202 including representations and examinations of race, gender, sexuality, youth, age and aging and class and socioeconomics. While I understand you may wish to write on a film of your own choosing you are prohibited to do so. As such you must choose a film from the extensive list provided below (all of which are available on various streaming sites), and I will not read, or grade essays written on films not included on the list. Lastly, the list below is terrifically diverse and includes popular cinema pertinent to the sociology of popular culture while also including films from as far back as 1989 and as recent as 2020. I have assembled a list that I hope allows all of us to select a film that we are enthusiastic to write on.
Film Selection List – please choose one of the following.
The Kids Are All Right (2010) / Molly’s Game (2017) / 20th Century Women (2016) / Fight Club (1999) / When Harry Met Sally (1989) / Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
Keywords: the sociology of popular culture and gender, sexuality, power, feminism, masculinity, consumerism, gender as a performed and visual meaning system, heteronormativity, relationships.
Do The Right Thing (1989) / Crooklyn (1994) / He Got Game (1998) / Queen and Slim (2019) / BlacKkKlansmen (2018) / Love and Basketball (2000)
Keywords: the sociology of popular culture and race, New Black Cinema, the Hood film, power, youth, family, gentrification, employment, the rom-com, critical race theory, Black excellence
While We’re Young (2014) / The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) / Mid-90s (2018) / KIDS (1995) / Booksmart (2019)
Keywords: the sociology of popular culture and youth culture, age, rebellion, class, sexuality, family, deviance, moral panic.
This is a fun assignment and please take some time in choosing your film. I would suggest watching various trailers and then begin choosing your film. I’ve included after each list of films a series of "keywords" that will help you get started in terms of academic research. I will post some more tips on how to best conduct academic research in the coming days. Academic sources are those that are found on the Ryerson Library website (RULA) or Google Scholar. For example, texts in the library that are available online (a great percentage of books found in the library are also accessible online now) and academic journals (The Journal of Popular Culture, for example) are academic sources. Newspapers, film reviews, blogs and entertainment sites are not academic sources and I would begin your research by logging onto RULA and typing in some of the keywords I’ve offered you alongside some of your own.
Format: 4 pages (double spaced, 12-point font, standard margins) minimum and 5 pages maximum. Do not deviate from your spacing. That is, once you begin your essay the entirety of the essay will be in double-spaced formatting only. Please do not triple space etc. between paragraphs. Be sure to indent when beginning a new paragraph. Your essay must have consistent font use throughout your essay. If you must cut and paste be certain it is made consistent with the rest of your essay. Your essay must adhere to either an MLA or APA formatting (be sure to look this up if you are unfamiliar), your essay must include a separate title page (that also includes a word count) and bibliography page, and neither of these are included in your page total requirement. Lastly, do adhere to the page requirements: a 4-page essay is 20% below the required 5, and choosing to not use 20% of the space offered you is a waste of opportunity in terms of scoring marks. For example, students do not lose marks, but rather you earn them. Be sure to use the space offered you to earn as many marks as you can. For example, you start with 0 and then begin earning your marks.
Bibliography: You are required to use, consistently and throughout your essay, a minimum of three academic sources and a maximum of five. This is strict. Part of your score is based on your research, and it is up to you to find, investigate, and determine whether a source is applicable. That is, this is a sociology course and as such you need to find sources that are sociological and/or film studies based.
YES: sources from sociology, criminology, film studies, queer theory, feminist theory, critical race theory.
NO: sources from psychology and/or non-sociological journals such as Sex Roles or Psychology Today, as well as magazines or film reviews.
As I stated above, I’ve included a series of "keywords" next to each list of films to help you get started on your research. Finally, not all of the films listed will have academic writing available (film reviews are not acceptable as academic sources) however every film listed is easily researched through its the themes or issues that are most prominent (the "keywords" I list reflect themes and issues). Informally speaking, the bibliography often separates students who enjoy the challenge of research and producing a critical essay from students who see the course as a "bird class" and simply find whatever sources are most easily located and use them once or twice. Be the former, spend a bit of time on RULA (Ryerson Library) and locate helpful sources: there is NO shortage of sources applicable to each film listed, I just spend the morning on RULA ensuring that. Lastly, I mark your essay objectively and optimistically: if you take the assignment seriously, ensure you follow every instruction, produce a well written essay that communicates to me critical thinking, intellectual curiosity, a competent use and inclusion of your bibliography, and finally, a desire to examine the film while including course content, you will do just fine.
Purpose: You are required to research and write a critical essay examining the film of your choice from a sociological perspective in which you examine the central issues you see as most pertinent. Avoid first-person, avoid flowery celebrations such as "Spike Lee does a brilliant job at _______" and avoid the phrase "I think." You are writing a critical essay that examines the sociology of popular culture through popular cinema.