Beauty assignment #3: Thematic Analysis

What cultural forces or sources shape our views about beauty? How have ideals of beauty been passed down, rejected, created, and altered? Choose two texts that share a subject or object of aesthetic evaluation (women, youth, wealth, etc.). Develop an argument about the ways in which the two works (either an artwork or a written text and a film or a song) construct, reinforce, and/or undermine standards of beauty/ugliness.

Audience: Members of the class

Format: 1500 words (3-4 pages); MLA style

Advice: Before you begin writing, be sure to analyze each text separately. Identify in a few words the major ideas about beauty/ugliness of each text by answering some of the following questions: what does this text identify as beautiful or ugly? Does the text conceive of beauty in multiple, divergent ways? How does the text’s conception compare to popular assumptions and beliefs about beauty? Is the text responding to popular conceptions in a productive way or is it following the status quo? Compare the texts according to these ideas. Do the texts complement each other? Does one undermine another? Your essay should be organized around a thesis in which you compare the texts according to one key idea.

FOR INSTRUCTORS ONLY

Type: Develop an argument to analyze the tension between two sources.

Pre-Draft Activities:

  1. Several sessions looking at advertisements, poems, songs, music videos, etc. in which the instructor models for students how to identify conceptions of beauty in popular forms, and then subsequent group and individual work on prescribed texts.
  2. Paragraphs about students’ texts and feedback from instructor.
  3. Paper proposals with feedback from instructor.
  4. Peer Review
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