DETAILS OF ASSIGNMENT: Think of three separate topics that pique your interest. Go to the online library and begin a search of academic articles. A great place to start is the Subject Guide in this course. Share those research topic ideas with your instructor and provide a minimum of 3 separate topics for your instructor’s review and feedback (below). These topics should be explained in 1 paragraph each, by outlining your ideas on the subject matter you’ve selected.
Choose something very narrow and specific (probably dealing with a specific genre within a single medium), focusing in only on magazines or movies or pop music or television, and then choosing a genre within those. For example, the subject of “Women in magazines,” or even “African American women in magazines” could not be dealt with in a dissertation, much less a short paper like this one. However, if you chose “African American models in mainstream fashion magazines”, or “Body type as depicted on teen magazine covers” then you are considering something much more narrow and can deal with it in a more interesting way. Likewise, you cannot consider “teenage girls on television,” but you could write about, “brainy girls on teen soap operas.”
Then, do not try to cover every single example. You should go deeper about a few things. I recommend that you focus on no more than four to six examples, in three to four more-or-less evenly dispersed time periods. So if you wanted to write about how the body types of fashion models have changed over time, you would consider fashion models that appeared on the cover of major magazines in the 1950s, the 1970s, and today, specifically focusing on, say Suzy Parker, Twiggy, and Tyra Banks, and the covers of magazines like Vogue orCosmopolitan, and what their presence means in terms of our culture. If you have a better idea for how to organize your paper than historically, that is fine; this is just a suggestion.
Finally, make sure that by the time you write the paper you will be able to come up with an argument (you do not have to have it fully worked out yet). The point of this paper is not simply to explain how things were, but to point out something that others might not have noticed and explain why it is important to understanding women’s lives, possibly even including some recommendations for changing things. In other words, a lot of people know that fashion models have gotten skinnier (while their breasts have gotten bigger) over time. But why does this matter? What is the cultural impact of that? What would have to happen for these images to be less destructive?