Monday, May 2, 2011


THIS ASSIGNMENT IS DUE THURSDAY AT NOON. Many apologies for not posting on Friday, thus the extra time. You submit your assignment by posting it as a comment below with your name (as it appears on the roll) on it.
1. Watch these clips the British teen drama Skins (it's been broken into parts):
Skins 1.1
Skins 1.2
Skins 1.3
Skins 1.4
Skins 1.5
*pay special attention to the differing roles of males and females on the show*
2. Write a 2-3 paragraph essay addressing ONE of the following topics. If you write a full 5-7 paragraph essay, you will be given a half letter grade boost. Make sure you refer specifically to scenes from the episode.
-On Skins, what do the concerns of the male characters seem to be? What are the consequences for not living up to gender expectations?
-How are females portrayed on the show? Are all female characters expected to behave the same way or are there different expectations for different kinds of women?
-How do visual components of Skins (how characters look, what the camera focuses on, scenery, etc) contribute to your understanding of the gender relationships on the show?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

EXTRA CREDIT: Do Pink Fingernails Make You Gay/Transgender?

This ad appeared in the most recent J Crew catalog
This advertisement shows a mother painting her son's toenails pink. It stirred up a lot of controversy in the media. Read this article about it:
What do you think about this advertisement? Do you think it could do damage to a growing child's sense of gender roles? Are people making a big deal out of nothing? What does the controversy surrounding this advertisement say about us as a culture? For extra credit in the form of a half a letter grade boost to your paper on SU, write THREE WELL-FORMED paragraphs discussing this issue. DUE MONDAY by NOON.

Toys & Gender

This word cloud was made from listening to tv commercials for boy toys and girl toys. Can you guess which word cloud goes with which gender? Bet you can. The size of the word indicates how frequently it was used. The bigger the word, the more often it was used.
We often think that by buying boy toys for boys and girl toys for girls that we are just helping them "become normal" in a social sense. Watch this video about what is normal in advertising for children.

What do you think about the idea that there should be no advertising directed at children? Do you think that gendered toys and advertising change children's ideas about what is possible for them professionally? Check out this article about the effect of gendered toys on children's education:
Playing Fair?
Do you think it's possible that the lack of technology, science, and building-based toys effects how girls perform in school? Do you think that boy's toys limit their potential? What would happen if the messages sent to boys and girls via toys and advertising were mixed up? Find out by playing this game:
Gendered Advertising Remixer
What is your intuitive response to mixing up these advertisements? Do you find them ridiculous or enlightening?
As a comment below, write TWO paragraphs about what you think about gendered toys. This comment is DUE at the start time of your next class with me. Please make sure to include your name as it appears on the roll.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

MLA Citation

As discussed in class, you will need to know how to use MLA citation. Not just for this class or paper, but generally, for all English papers.
Here is a handbook:
1. Write the citation format for College, The Easy Way as you would cite it in a bibliography.
2. Write the citation format for In Praise of the F Word as you would cite it in a bibliography.
3. Use a quote from either article in a sentence, and use MLA in-text citation format.
YOUR COLLEGE ATTITUDES RESEARCH ASSIGNMENT, whether you are writing a paper or doing a group presentation, is due this week. If you are writing a paper, you must bring your rough draft on Monday/Tuesday, groups you will be practicing. Papers and final projects are due Wednesday/Thursday. There will be no make ups for group presentations. None. No exceptions. If your group tells me that you didn't pull your weight, you will receive an automatic F.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

College: The Easy Way

Read this article in the New York Times:
Respond in one paragraph as a comment. Be prepared to discuss this in class.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Race Paper Topic Options

You have a five paragraph essay due next week. Here are your topic options:

1. Describe a scene in the movie Crash. Does it bring a particular social problem or issue to mind? Argue whether it does or does not do a good job of highlighting this issue and why.
2. Discuss the evolution of a character from the movie Crash. How do we see them change from the beginning of the film to the end? Is their personal change meant to be symbolic of a change that would/should/could happen in society?
3. Compare the portrayal of race in King of the Hill and The Boondocks. Is the subject of race more obvious in one than the other? Does one of them rely more heavily on racial stereotyping to make points and jokes? What is the effect of this difference on the audience?
4. Discuss racial stereotyping in either King of the Hill or The Boondocks. How/when is it used? Does the show use racial stereotypes in order to challenge them? Or does it use racial stereotypes as a convenient way to make a point?
5. Discuss an experience that you have had that challenged your personal ideas about race or racial stereotypes. Warning: Although this option is expository, it must still have an argument and be presented in a well-constructed five paragraph format. Because this is the most flexible topic, I will also be grading it the most critically.
Paper Format
Your paper must be typed in 12 pt. Times New Roman font. It must be double-spaced, except the header, which should be single-spaced on the left-hand side of the paper and contain: your name, the date, your course and section number, and my name. You should have a title for your paper and it should be centered. Your last name and the page number should be in the upper right hand corner of each page. This is called MLA format and you can google it if you need to. It looks like this:
Writing a Five Paragraph Essay
If you aren't completely comfortable with your understanding of what a five paragraph essay is, you should check out these links:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

CARTOONS! And race...

Watch these cartoons!

Now, think about the ways that each race is portrayed in each cartoon. Do these cartoons rely on racial stereotypes to create a plotline, humor, or a point? Is this done in a way that is offensive or inoffensive? Why? What do you think about the cartoon's handing of race? Does it confirm ideas/stereotypes you already have of the mannerisms, behavior, or culture of certain races? I am not asking you if you think that either show is an ACCURATE portrayal of anything. I am asking you to look at HOW race is portrayed in each show. If King of the Hill was your only window into "whiteness" and The Boondocks was your only window into "blackness", what would you think of each of these two races? Post a well-written, well-constructed paragraph as a comment below. DUE FRIDAY BY NOON. Your paper assignment will be posted here TOMORROW BY NOON.

Class Today Canceled!

Class today is cancelled. Please check back here later today or tomorrow for an assignment. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Racism VS Racial Stereotyping

As we discussed in class, it can sometimes be difficult to parse out the differences between racism and racial stereotyping. Here are the Wikipedia definitions of each:
Read the Wikipedia entries, think about what we discussed in class, and as a comment below write one paragraph discussing what you think the difference is between racism and racial stereotyping.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Racial Sterotyping

Watch this video and check out this link:
Stuff White People Like
As a comment, post a link to something you've found on the internet that uses racial stereotyping to make a point, a joke, or sell you something. Make sure to include your name as it is listed on the roll. Also check out at least three other links.
*Be careful about your choices. Blonde jokes, for example, aren't really racial stereotyping. I would say that they are more about gender.

Monday, February 14, 2011

CRASH Review

Check out these reviews of the movie we watched in class, Crash:
Which review do you think does the best job of interpreting the film? Why? What did the reviewer get right, and what did they get wrong? What would you add to the review? Post your response as a comment below.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Class In Television Essay Assignment

Your first essay assignment for this class is to write a 5 paragraph essay analyzing how a class (upper, middle, or lower) is represented in a television show. Use the chart we made in class to organize your thoughts while you are watching the program. Once you have completed the chart, check out these tips for how to get started thinking about a paper. Make an outline. Here are some ideas for how to make and use an outline. When you turn in your paper, you will be expected to turn in your chart, an outline, and the draft. The draft should be double-spaced, in Times New Roman font 12 pt, and your name, the date, your course and section, and my name should be in the upper left hand corner, single-spaced. 
The Writing Prompt
Television shows are a common way that we learn about cultural norms. What class is represented by the television show you watched? Is it represented accurately? (Answering this question may require some research on your part.) What ideas about that class does the show give you, and do the ideas it gives you about one class imply something about another class? Why do you think this television show presents its particular ideas about class? Is it, for example, to make poor people feel better about being poor? To make middle class people nervous about losing money? To make wealthy people feel guilty about their wealth? Make sure you have a solid idea and argument. Good luck and happy TV watching!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Born Rich

Watch at least 20 minutes of this documentary.

(If the embedded video doesn't appear on your screen, here's a link.) This is a film made by Jamie Johnson, heir to the Johnson & Johnson empire. The movie garnered a lot of controversy when it came out, and Johnson was even sued by one of the kids who participated in the movie. Here's a link to Jamie Johnson's articles for Vanity Fair. Read one of them. Think about what the concerns of the ultra wealthy are and how they behave. Does this insider's perspective offer you any new insights into the upper class? Write a paragraph about what issues this video and article raise for you and leave it as a comment. Make sure to include your name as it is listed on the roll.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Poke around Found Magazine. Find a letter or photograph that interests you, and copy it down or print it and bring it to class. Start imagining the person who wrote it, who it was written to, or what's going on in the picture. You will use this as a starting point for your first writing assignment. DO NOT FORGET TO BRING 3X5 CARDS TO CLASS.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Tracey Duncan                                                                       
2027 Harris Hall
Office hours: T/TR 2-330pm
You are expected to come to class. Students who do not come to class will not be successful. You can miss 3 classes, excused or unexcused, with no grade penalty. Upon your 4th absence, your grade will be dropped one letter. On your 5th absence, it will be dropped another letter, and so forth. Students who miss 7 or more classes will receive an F.
If you miss class, you will need to get the assignments from a classmate. No late work will be accepted.
Class Blog
We will be using a blog for collaborative assignments. This is not optional. The url is based on your course and section number. It will be one of the following:

If you are in my Wednesday class, you will need to check the blog every Tuesday by noon for any assignments or announcements. If you are in my Tuesday/Thursday class, you will need to check the blog every Monday and Wednesday by noon for any announcements. You are responsible for anything announced or assigned on the blog.
Daily Quizzes
There will be a short quiz at the beginning of every class based on readings and previously discussed material. If you are late, you will not be allowed to make up the quiz.
Major Assignments
There will be an essay due the first week of every month, beginning in February.
Grade Breakdown
Daily Quizzes      20%
Participation       10%
HW, etc.               10%
Essay 1                  10%
Essay 2                  15%
Essay 3                  15%
Essay 4                  20%
The standard Southern grading scale will be used.
For each class, you will be expected to have paper, a pen or pencil, The Longman Writer, and a 3X5 index card.