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Formal Essay: Theory Analysis and Response Paper

Select, research, and respond to a piece of theoretical writing that is relevant to tactical media. You may respond to an assigned reading; you may select a supplementary essay (something linked from the class page but not assigned); or you may respond to an essay not linked from the class page (subject to my approval). Take and defend a critical position in response to the theoretical essay, particularly as it relates to tactical media. Your response should show evidence of original thinking.

After briefly stating your own critical position, the first part of your paper should briefly explain your understanding of the theoretical essay to which you are responding (its meaning and implications).

The second part of your paper should restate your position and argue it based on researched examples and logic. Don't simply "agree" or "disagree" with the paper. Formulate a more complex position in relation to the nuances of the theory that the paper proposes. Don't just say what you think is true; convince me that it is true by explaining why and giving examples, facts, and testimonials that prove your point. Consider opposing arguments and address them.

Use the text editor of your choice to write your paper. The paper should follow this general format:
a. introduce the theoretical essay you have chosen and state your critical position
b. explain your understanding of the theory to which you are responding
c. explain and support your own position with arguments and examples
d. summarize your position


  1. The paper is NOT simply a book report where you summarize the main points of the essay to which you are responding. You can assume your reader is already familiar with the essay. Instead, the paper is a reasoned response to the theory, wherein you critique it and offer original insights into its usefulness.
  2. The paper should be as long as necessary to explain your understanding of the theory and your response to it. Five paragraphs won't be enough. Ten pages may be too long.
  3. Don't just tell me what you think, explain WHY and convince me with EXAMPLES.
  4. Credit any sources via footnotes (according to the MLA style). You don't have to footnote your own position or argument, but you do have to footnote historical facts, quotations, and examples that support your argument.
  5. Make sure your response addresses the topic of tactical media.

Ways to do Original, Creative Research:

  1. Radically undermine the generally received understanding of things. (This rarely happens at the undergraduate level.)
  2. Perform a nuanced and original analysis of something. (This often includes original field research.)
  3. Make nuanced connections heretofore unseen. Don't just assert that two things are connected; explain how and why they are connected, and the implications of this connection. (This may be your best bet.)

Grading criteria:

  1. Knowledge and Scope of Topic: evidences a clear understanding of the theory, its cultural implications, and its applicability to tactical media. scope of topic is not overly broad or overly narrow.
  2. Convincing Response: original, clearly stated, sensibly reasoned, well supported, appropriately researched, properly documented.
  3. well written: includes specific details, dynamic introduction and conclusion, continuity of critique, correct grammar/spelling.

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