text citations (“ parenthetical documentation ”) W r i t i n g

text citations (“ parenthetical documentation ”) W r i t i n g

  • Social media— a blog, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter site or
  • Fashion— a specific article of clothing or fashion within a specific era

As you analyze, consider some/any of the following questions to help you write your thesis and main points:

  • How does this cultural product contain or promote specific values?
  • How is it representative of wider social assumptions that are reproduced and circulated and/or published, including the scope and method of circulation?
  • How is this cultural product experienced or interpreted?
  • How does it contribute to and actively shape cultural ideals and expectations?
  • How does it support or revise conventional ideas, practices, or expectations?
  • How does it utilize symbolism to create meaning?
  • How does it participate in influencing the formation of personal or group identity?
  • What is its role in society?
  • What essential elements of its form (visual or textual composition, style, presentation) contribute to its meaning?
  • How does it adhere to conventions of a larger genre or category? (the “genre” may be action movies, men’s magazines, etc.)

In the process of considering these questions, you should do some research to become better informed about possible topics. After considering these guiding questions, determine which question or questions lead you to develop an insightful and supported interpretation of the significance of a cultural product. Identify the elements of the cultural product that best support your central interpretation and write a coherent essay presenting and defending that interpretation. You will make an argument in this essay.

2. Genre:

  • Critical analysis of a cultural product (analysis + argument)
  • Structure your essay as an expansion of the five-paragraph theme (used for Essay One and Essay Two).

3. Audience:

  • Your target audience is composed of your classmates and any other student enrolled in ENGL 102.

4. Stance:

  • Your stance can be serious, funny, skeptical, etc., but it must be written correctly in Standard American Written English. If you are not sure, please ask!

5. Medium and Design:

  • Multimedia material: minimum of two (“C” grade standard) graphics and/ or sound, image, and/ or video inserts and/ or links are required.

6. Context:

  • You will need to use research: at least three academically appropriate secondary sources in addition to primary source/s (your cultural product or text) to complete this assignment with a “C” or better. Both print and/or electronic sources are fine to use. Because you will be graded on your ability to select the right kind of sources to support and develop your own ideas (“information literacy”), you’ll want to make the source selections carefully. Use CCBC library databases for research as much as possible, but because you are writing about a cultural product, you may need to use ordinary sources from the internet, too.
  • Your essay will not earn a passing grade (less than a “C”) if it is submitted without:
    • In-text citations, integrated and cited direct quotations from every source, min. of two visual, audio, and/ or multimedia elements and/ or links, and a Works Cited page.
    • These quotations/paraphrases must come from the cultural product(s) you analyze and your three research sources.
    • These omissions will override the rest of the grade rubric assessment. See the grade rubric for Essay Three to see how this essay will be assessed.
    • Ask me if you do not understand any part of this assignment.
  • Your essay must be at least 5 full pages. This page count does not include the Works Cited page, or the room taken up from the inclusion of multimedia elements and/ or links. Anything less will result in a substantial loss of points (below a “C” grade). Development of ideas, with the balance of comprehensiveness and conciseness, is a key element of writing at the collegiate level.
  • You must follow MLA Style 8 format as perfectly as possible, from paper formatting to in-text citations (“parenthetical documentation”) to the proper configuration of the Works Cited page. This material is a review of 101, so errors will result in a significant deduction of points.
  • Errors in grammar and mechanics can and will lower your essay grade significantly (by as much as 40 points on this essay). You may not pass the essay based on these errors alone.
  • At the end of your essay, include the following statement if it is true: “I have abided by CCBC’s academic honor code on this assignment, and I attest that I have neither cheated in any way nor have I failed to give proper credit to all other sources of ideas and materials.”



  • Start with a “hook” (introduction device) to get the reader’s attention and interest. You could ask a question, tell a quick story, define a main concept, quote something memorable, etc., to engage your reader.
  • Give a brief and general summary of your subject matter and topic. Introduce the cultural product you are writing about by title and author or producer (or both).
  • Explain the criteria you will use for your analysis.
  • List your points for the body paragraphs briefly.
  • End the introduction with the thesis statement that makes an argument about your cultural product. Please do not include the points of your body paragraphs in your thesis statement (no “three-pronged” thesis statements).

Body Paragraphs:

For each point, follow the same kind of pattern. A point can be several paragraphs in length: as long as all of this is covered by the end of the final paragraph for each point, everything is fine:

  • Use a transition, and state the point in a topic sentence. (example: First, the history of the cellphone makes it clear why this device became so popular with young and older people alike.)
  • Explain further what you mean by what you said in the topic sentence.
  • “Prove”/support your point by giving examples and explaining. Include specific examples and direct quotations from texts and sources.
  • Show you are fair and balanced by acknowledging other points of view, when appropriate.
  • Return your reader to the conclusion that your interpretation is valuable, because even though you acknowledge other points of view, your reason is valid and supportable by the evidence (support, “proof”) provided in this point.
  • Summarize point: restate it in different words.
  • Transition and introduce the new point/reason.
  • Follow the same pattern for the next point, until you have covered all points.


  • Summarize thesis and points/reasons. Don’t forget this step!
  • Put the ideas in your paper in a larger perspective. This is similar to your textbook’s suggestion to think about the larger context of your ideas, this debate, this perspective, these methods for evaluation, etc., which is extremely relevant to this particular essay assignment. A conclusion device will work well here.
  • Write a final sentence which actually closes the essay and signals the end, without using the phrase “in conclusion.”

Sample Student Essay Three