Expectations of the PSA:

At this point, you have completed the WEx review, spent a lot of time making the implicit explicit, and delved into the world of your primary source. Like in the rough draft, this paper will analyze, and as a result will address real life issues. However, this paper is not about real life issues. It is about a work of comedy that addresses a larger social issue. So, for example, your paper might be about a Louis CK joke about gender. You would want to write about the cultural assumptions about gender at play, but this would all be addressed via your primary source––”CK’s joke about men at a bar draws on stereotypes about male hyper sexuality…” What you do NOT want to do: “CK’s joke about men at a bar is true because men regard sex like this…”

It’s important to think about how cultural assumptions or stereotypes work in your source, rather than merely list different stereotypes that arise. Most of us can recognize various stereotypes in comedy; the bigger question is how they are being employed––are they challenging the stereotype? Are they disparaging a group of people by using the stereotype?

One thing that might be a bit painful is that you are expected to be critical of the source, which means you may need to––gasp––talk about how your favorite comedian/show might be flawed. This is a breakthrough moment, though. Your perspective is not the only, nor the primary, perspective. Your favorite comedian’s perspective is not the only, nor the primary, perspective. By stepping back and trying on multiple perspectives, you will have a more holistic understanding of how your source works. You won’t hurt yourself by understanding other people and their experiences.

Expectations of the PSA:

  • 600-900 words, properly formatted, acceptable file format
  • Demonstrates expertise with the primary source by moving beyond the explicit
  • Addresses the purpose of the primary source, and how rhetoric works toward this end
  • Is focused and coherent. Your PSA will deal with a lot of ideas, and sometimes things don’t feel like they “flow”––this is expected at this point. What we mean by focused and coherent is: are you connecting your claims with evidence (specific examples from the source)? Are you articulating your ideas clearly?
  • At the close of your analysis, end with one or two analytical “research questions” (questions that arise from observations about the source) that you will use to begin thinking more deeply about your topic and to help you find materials for the upcoming Annotated Bibliography and Secondary Source Integration. We will go over how to develop a research question in class to aid you with this last portion of the assignment.

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