Exercise 3.2: Research Homework

Objective: clarify the central question of your scholarly research essay by problematizing your exhibit.

Estimated time: 2-3 hrs

Due by 9:30 a.m. Monday, April 6th 

Part 1—Watch and Read

  • Watch your film OR read the coverage on current event you have selected and take careful notes on patterns and anomalies you observe. You will use these observations and your preliminary research to create a clear, focused research question for your scholarly research essay.
  • Read and annotate Simon During’s introduction to Stuart Hall’s “Encoding, Decoding.” The reading is dense, so remember that you’re looking for ideas and concepts, which are outlined in the videos. One key concept that Hall explores is re-presentation, so think about how groups of people are represented in your film or the media. The reading is in your course pack, but in case you lost that, you can download a copy.
  • Review the five ways of identifying an intellectual or interpretive described in the Identifying Problems writing guide.
  • Review the Strong Research Questions writing guide.
  • Read Functions of Sources writing guide

Part 2—Write a Summary of Your Film (Journal 3.2)

Write a summary of your film as soon as you finish watching it. Doing so will help you to record what you think is important about the film without (accidentally) plagiarizing another summary of the film. OR write an overview that summarizes the media coverage you have observed.

Part 3—Preliminary Research

  • Conduct preliminary research on your exhibit and also analyze it in order to determine the main question you want to explore in your scholarly research essay. Therefore, make sure to look up existing opinions about your film. Find out how the film is categorized as a genre and how that genre is defined.
    Example: A past student noticed that central female characters in the animated film Inside Out seemed to be based on common female stereotypes, yet the film was universally praised as a feminist masterpiece. Therefore, in her research essay, she asked: Do the stereotypical depictions of Joy and Sadness undermine the film’s reputation as a “feminist” film?

Part 3—Draft Your Research Question

  • Write your research question, using the guidelines in the Strong Research Questions writing guide. Post your question as a comment below.

Library Class Virtual Visit

Because our classes are now online, the library has created this guide to help you with your research, which is a required learning objective of our English 110 class. You will complete this work as part of your classwork on Monday, April 6th.

The guide includes a chat box for questions, and a library instructor, Max Thorn, will be available to answer your questions during our class time on April 6, 1:40 to 3:30 p.m. and 4:40 to 6:30 p.m. You can also chat online with a librarian chat online with a Queens College librarian Monday through Thursday 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday/Sunday 12:00 to 4:00 p.m.

And, of course, I will be helping you with the research for this essay.

Exercise 3.1: Selecting Exhibits for Research Essay

Objective: identify a possible exhibit for your scholarly research essay.

Estimated time: 1-2 hours

Due by 11:59 p.m. Friday, April 3rd

Part 1—Reading

Review the Essay 3 assignment guidelines (REVISED).

Part 2—Watching

  1. “The Danger of a Single Story” TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. As you watch the video, consider that it’s not just others who create single stories about us—we all do it too.
  2. “Representation & the Media: Featuring Stuart Hall” (video)
  3. “But Wait: Do We Really CONSUME Media?” (video)

Part 3—Research to Select Your Exhibit

Do some preliminary research to help you to select a film that you’re able to compose a strong research question and make a strong argument about your film. Post your selection as a comment below. The film does not have to be in English, but English subtitles must be available.

You may select from the list below or choose a film of your own. However, if you want to choose a film not on the list below, it must be available in the QC library or on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu,  iTunes, or HBO; you must provide a synopsis of how the film represents cultural identity; and I must approve the film.

Film Selections for Essay 3

  • Bamboozled (2000) African American
  • Beasts of No Nation (2015) unnamed African country
  • Before Night Falls (2000) Cuban LGBTQ+
  • Bend it Like Beckham (2002) British-Indian woman
  • BlacKkKlansman (2018) African American
  • Boys Don’t Cry (1999) LGBTQ+
  • The Breadwinner (2017) Afghan
  • But I’m a Cheerleader (1999) LGBTQ+
  • Dances with Wolves (1990) Native American
  • Daughters of the Dust (1991) African American/Gullah women
  • Dear White People (2014) African American
  • Disobedience (2017) Jewish LGBTQ+
  • East Side Sushi (2014) Mexican-American woman
  • The Education of Little Tree (1997) Native American
  • Ghost in the Shell (1995) Japanese
  • La Haine (Hate) (1995) French immigrants
  • Half of a Yellow Sun (2013) Nigerian
  • Hidden Figures (2017) African American women
  • Joy Luck Club (1993) Chinese-American women
  • Lagaan – Once Upon a Time in India (2001) India
  • Loving (2016) interracial couple/African American and white
  • The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015) Indian
  • Ma Vie en Rose (My LIfe in Pink) (1997) French LGBTQ+
  • Margarita Through a Straw (2014) Indian LGBTQ+
  • Mississippi Masala (1991) Indian-American and African American
  • Moonlight (2016) African American LGBTQ+
  • Mulan (1998) Chinese girl
  • The Namesake (2006) Indian-American
  • Pariah (2011) African American LGBTQ+
  • Persepolis (2007) Persian/Iranian
  • PK (2014) Indian
  • Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) Australian indigenous
  • Real Women Have Curves (2002) Mexican-American
  • The Shape of Water (2017) the “other”
  • A Silent Voice (2016) Japan
  • Sitara: Let Girls Dream (2019) Pakistani
  • Skin (2008) South African
  • Smoke Signals (1998) Native American
  • Sometimes in April (2005) Rwanda
  • Sorry to Bother You African American (2018)
  • Today’s Special (2009) Indian-American
  • Tortilla Soup (2001) Mexican-American
  • Under the Same Moon (2007) Mexican immigrant
  • The Walkout (2006) Mexican-American
  • Whale Rider (2002) Māori
  • Yeh Ballet (2020) Indian

Journal 3.1 (private writing): What is your motivation for writing about the film you chose?

Formal Draft: Essay 2

Objective: produce a revised formal draft of your second essay. To produce your formal draft, you will extensively revise and develop your zero draft using ideas from class and suggestions provided in my feedback.

Estimated time: 3-4 hours
Due at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, April 2nd

Important to Complete Before Proceeding to the Assignment

  • If you did not submit a Zero Draft, do the steps in the Zero Draft assignment before proceeding.
  • If you did not complete the Google Classroom work for March 23rd and/or March 25th, complete the work before proceeding.


  1. Review the guidelines for the Lens Analysis Essay.
  2. ***Read the Model Lens Analysis Essay.***
  3. Revise the paragraph in which you carefully and objectively describe the figure. (1 paragraph)
  4. Revise and polish your summary paragraphs of Williamson and Hall. Explain to your audience how you’re using them as a lens. See the Model Essay for help with this.
  5. Carefully analyze specific aspects of your advertisement using lens analysis to develop and support your argument about the messages of the advertisement and its implicit or explicit bias. “Sandwich” your analysis using quotes from both Williamson and Hall to support your analysis of each element. Download Notes on Theories from Williamson and Hall to guide you in selecting quotes to use as a lens to analyze.
    In each of your analysis paragraphs, identify each component—claim, analysis, secondary sources, synthesis—using strategies from our March 25th class. Label or highlight them as you did for the Google Classroom assignment.
    (1 paragraph for each of the three elements you are analyzing, meaning 3 total analysis paragraphs)
  6. Include a topic sentence/claims at the beginning of each of your analysis paragraphs. Your claim should be arguable, complex, reflect your analysis, and connect to your thesis. It should also be specific about what element from the advertisement is being analyzed in the paragraph and on why and how that element demonstrates bias. Bold your claims. (Developing Strong Claims)
  7. Revise the paragraph in which you introduce the problem in the figure. Your thesis should assert how/why the elements in the ad collectively are implicitly and/or explicitly biased but should not be a list. Bold your thesis. (1 paragraph)
  8. Write a conclusion paragraph that synthesizes your analysis of the ad, rather than one that restates your claims or summarizes your argument. (Effective Conclusions).
  9. Include a Works Cited list on a separate page using MLA style. Your essay must also be formatted according to MLA style. Refer to the Model Essay and the MLA Sample Paper.
  10. Revise the detailed PAS outline you created for your essay and include it on a separate page. (Effective Paragraphing Writing Guide and Model Essay.)
  11. Create a two-line title for your essay.
  12. Include a one-paragraph self-evaluation on a separate page in which you briefly explain what you think is promising in your draft and what sort of feedback you would like in order to continue to develop this draft. Please be specific. This self-evaluation is part of the assignment, and I will not provide feedback if it is not included.
  13. Name your file according to the protocol on page 5 of the syllabus. For example, Beyoncé Knowles would name this essay like this: KnowlesB_E2_FormalDraft.
  14. Submit your Formal Draft to Dropbox by 11:59 p.m. Thursday, April 2nd.
  15. Send your essay to a classmate for peer review. If you need my help with identifying a classmate, please email me. Download the peer review form from Dropbox. The deadline for peer review is April 2nd. 

As always, email me with any questions.

Exercise 2.5: Path of Analysis

Objective: to organize your essay by developing a path of analysis in the remaining two of your three analysis paragraphs (continuing work from class).

Estimated time: 1-2 hours
Due by 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, March 25th

IMPORTANT: If you did not complete the classwork on Google Classroom for Monday, March 23rd, please do so before you begin working on this homework.

Part 1—Writing

Using strategies from Monday’s classwork, develop a path of analysis of your other two analysis paragraphs. Be sure that you first perform a says/does analysis of each of those paragraphs. Paste your response as a comment below.

Note that the theories in this exercise are Williamson and Hall’s, so make sure you’re clear about that.

See Google Classroom for the materials.

Part 2—Private Writing Journal 2.4

What strategies from the Model Essay do you want to use in your own? (This writing is only for you, so no need to post.)

Part 3—Reading for Wednesday’s Class

For Wednesday’s class, please read/re-read the following writing guides:

  • Effective Paragraphing
  • Developing Strong Claims
  • 8 Strategies for Critically Engaging Sources
  • Sandwiching Quotes
  • Radical Revision
  • vocabulary list from Engaging Multiple Viewpoints


Exercise 2.4: Essay Organization and Thesis Development

Objective: to understand organization of an essay by paragraph using PAS and to understand thesis development as a process.

Estimated time: 1 hour
Due by 9:00 a.m. Monday, March 23rd

Part 1—Reading

  • Read the Effective Paragraphing writing guide.
  • Read the Model Essay. As you read, note how the essay is organized by paragraph. As part of our classwork, you will learn how to apply the same principles to your essay.
  • Read “Linking Evidence and Claims” by David Rossenwasser et al.

Part 2—Writing

Using ideas “Linking Evidence and Claims,” discuss the following in a few sentences and be sure to include quotes for each.

  • why we are not using the five-paragraph essay model for our essays
  • why we are waiting until later drafts to finalize our thesis

Post as a comment below.

Zero Draft Essay 2

Objective: produce a very rough draft (a “zero draft”) of your second essay. This will help you find raw material (i.e. potential evidence and rough ideas) that can be refined and further developed in your formal draft. Reminder: this draft should be very messy. I want you to explore *ideas* and not worry about making (or fixing) grammatical mistakes. You can use a combination of English and other languages if you’d like. If this draft is polished and free of grammatical errors, it means you did not follow my instructions.

Estimated time: 3-4 hours

Submit to Dropbox 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 16th


  1. Read the Lens Analysis Essay assignment guidelines and the formatting guidelines described in the syllabus.
  2. Re-read the Visual Analysis Writing Guide, and then revise the paragraph in which you objectively describe your advertisement for a reader who has never seen it before. Based on your research, briefly explain when, where and why the advertisement was published, and who published it. (paragraph 1 of your essay)
  3. Re-read the Citing Sources Writing Guide, then write a summary of Decoding Advertisements by Judith Williamson for a reader who has never read it before. Make sure to include and explain a quotation that best expresses the thesis of the essay, along with Williamson’s explanation of signifier and signified. (paragraph 3 of your essay)
  4. Write a summary of “Discourse and Power” by Stuart Hall for a reader who has never read it before. Define what Hall means by discourse, ideology, and the “regime of truth.” Make sure to include and explain a quotation that best expresses the thesis of the essay. (paragraph 4 of your essay)
  5. Re-read the questions in the Visual Analysis: Explicit and Implicit Bias writing guide. Using these questions, your responses from Exercise 2.3, and the work we’ve done in class, develop your analysis paragraphs on the three specific elements in your exhibit that you believe are crucial to understanding the implicit and/or explicit bias. (1 paragraph for each element) Make sure to include quotes (i.e. lens ideas) from Williamson to help you decipher and analyze the ad’s messages and from Hall to help you analyze the bias in the elements. (paragraphs 5, 6, and 7 of your essay)
  6. Write a rough draft of your introduction in which you attempt to state your hypothesis or tentative thesis. Which three elements of the advertisement do you think are crucial to understanding its message and intended audience? Explain why you chose these three. What is the central message of the advertisement? Who is the intended or target audience for this advertisement and why is that important? (paragraph 2 of your essay)
  7. Include a copy of your advertisement on a separate page.
  8. Include a Works Cited page using MLA formatting.
  9. Include a one-paragraph self-evaluation on a separate page in which you briefly explain what you think is promising in your draft and what sort of feedback you would like in order to continue to develop this draft.
  10. Name your file according to the protocol on page 5 of the syllabus. For example, Charlie Parker would name this essay like this: ParkerC_E2_ZeroDraft.
  11. Submit your essay as a Word document or PDF (no Google docs or Pages files)  to Dropbox by 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 16th.

As always, please contact me with any questions.

Exercise 2.3: Select Possible Exhibits

Objective: identify a possible exhibit for your lens analysis essay.

Estimated time: 1-2 hours
Due by: 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, March 11th

Review the instructions for Essay Assignment 2—Lens Analysis.

Part 1—Research

Conduct some research to find a potential exhibit for your lens analysis essay. Your “exhibit” is the advertisement that you will be analyzing in your essay. It must be a static advertisement (not a video), such as a highway billboard, movie poster, online advertisement, subway advertisement, newspaper or magazine advertisement, or even a flyer. The advertisement does not have to be in English, but you will need to provide translation. Strong advertisements for this assignment are usually primarily visual but also contain text to analyze.

Select from images that I have posted here on our course website (do not require approval) OR from http://www.adsoftheworld.com (does require approval—email link to me by 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 12th.

Part 2—Writing

Identify three elements of the advertisement you think are crucial to understanding the implicit or explicit bias. Using strategies we practiced in class, draft a claim for each element to analyze how/why it indicates implicit and/or explicit bias.

Post your response as a comment below and bring a printed copy of those reasons, along with your image with you to class on Wednesday.

Exercise 2.2: Reading and Identifying Quotes

Objective: to begin to isolate quotes from Decoding Advertisements and “Discourse and Power.”

Estimated time: 2 hours
Due by: 9:00 a.m. Monday, March 9th

Part 1—Reading

  • Essay 2 Lens Analysis Assignment Guidelines
  • “Saying Why It Matters” from They Say, I Say.
  • Decoding Advertisements
    Pay attention to how Williamson applies her theories to analysis of advertisements. Isolate theories to quote in your lens analysis.
  • “Discourse and Power”
    Pay attention to Hall’s analogies and context in which he applies theories on discourse and power. Isolate theories to quote in your lens analysis.

Part 2—Writing

  • Isolate a specific theory in each of the texts that is difficult for you to understand (one for each of the texts). In your annotations, write what you think they mean. What questions remain? Be sure to look up any key terms, some of which you will find on our Key Terms page. Note the link to the Oxford Dictionary at the top of the page.
  • Post your response and remaining questions as a comment below and be prepared to discuss in class on Monday.

Exercise 1.1

Objective: to introduce ideas from “The Question of Cultural Identity” and understand writing as a conversation.

Estimated time: 1 – 1.5 hours
Due by 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, January 29th

Part 1—Watching

Watch the Stuart Hall interview video “Questions of Identity”.

Part 2—Reading

  • Read the Reading (and Writing) for Conversation writing guide.
  • Read Section 1 of “The Question of Cultural Identity.” Make note of any questions you may have.

Part 3—Writing

Pretend that you are in a conversation with Stuart Hall. Describe to him a time when you experienced internal or external conflict due to possessing (or being perceived as possessing) multiple cultural identities. For example, it may have been a situation in which you felt that one of your cultural identities was challenged by or in conflict with another of your cultural identities. Post your response below as a COMMENT to this post.

Part 4—Journal 1.1: Context Research

Spend 15 minutes (only) researching the following context online and bring it with you to class on Wednesday.

  • Stuart Hall
  • Kobena Mercer
  • The Enlightenment
  • Anthony Giddens
  • Ernesto Laclau
  • Jacques Lacan
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Clarence Thomas / Anita Hill
  • Renee Descartes
  • Michel Foucault
  • Ferdinand de Saussure
  • Raymond Williams

In order to post comments on this course website, you will need to set up your QWriting account. Use this QWriting Getting Started document for step-by-step instructions. Once you have set up your QWriting account, you can log into this site to comment on the exercises.

Your first comment will require my approval before it will post to the site. After your first comment is approved, your comments will post as soon as you post them


Exercise 1.2

Objective: to better understand “The Question of Cultural Identity” by identifying main ideas, connections, and rhetorical patterns in Sections 2 through 4 of the essay.

Estimated time: 1.5 – 2 hours
Due by 9:00 a.m. Monday, February 3rd

Note: As we discussed in class, I am aware that Hall’s text is dense and may seem difficult to you. However, as you will learn over the next few weeks, writing about a difficult text is the most effective way to understand it. Remember that our purpose in reading is to respond to the ideas it explores, not necessarily to understand every minute detail. Once you have completed the reading the text, it will make more sense to you—I promise. Just keep reading.

Part 1—Reading and Annotation

  1. Re-read the Reading (and Writing) for Conversation writing guide in your course pack.
  2. Carefully read the Identifying Intellectual or Interpretive Problems writing guide in your course pack.
  3. Using strategies for close, critical reading that we discussed in class Wednesday, carefully read and annotate Sections 2 through 4 in “The Question of Cultural Identity.” Write down ideas and questions that you have in response to specific parts of these sections. Make note of any connections you notice between the sections.

Part 2—Writing

Using the connections you noted when you were reading Sections 2 through 4, how does Hall develop the concepts of the three identity subjects explored in Section 1? What elements of the rhetorical situation of the text can you identify? How do those function to help Hall develop his analysis? Be as specific as possible and include page numbers. Post your response below as a COMMENT to this post.

Part 3—Journal 1.2

Reflect on how reading for conversation differs from reading solely for content and memorization. How did that change your reading practices as you read these two sections?

For our new additions, in order to post comments on this course website, you will need to set up your QWriting account. Use this QWriting Getting Started document for step-by-step instructions. Once you have set up your QWriting account, you can log into this site to comment on the exercises.