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									English 125
Winter 2002
PAPER ONE: The Compare/Contrast Paper

Assignment:
Write a 4-5 page paper that analyzes an advertising scheme using the compare/contrast method.
Drafts are due on Monday, January 28, during our conference. Please remember to bring
THREE copies of your paper. The final essay is due on Monday, February 4. Papers should be
typed in a 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced with 1-inch margins. Please include
page numbers, remember to staple your document, and proofread beyond spell checking.

Topics:
In our discussions of advertising and the ‘art’ of persuasion, we have examined and compared
advertisements for alcohol, cars, and travel destinations. We have compared and contrasted
representations of feminine sexuality. For this paper, I want you to use the compare/contrast
methodology to devise an argument about products and advertising. That is, I want to you
develop an argument that investigates how and why products and advertisements deploy specific
visual and textual messages, and to what end. Please choose a topic from the following:

1. Identity, subversive products, and the mall. In her article “The Signs of Shopping,” Anne
Norton argues that the shopping mall “is the source of those commodities through which we
speak of our identities, our opinions, our desires” (1). She contends that the “pervasive private
authority” of those who own and manage the malls limits the commodities available in the mall,
and thus limits the construction of our identities (1). What kinds of identities are produced by the
mall? Who is the mall designed to exclude, and why? Find one product brand that is available in
the mall, and one that is not. Analyze each brand thoroughly, paying close attention to the ways in
which the product and product advertising attempts to construct consumer identity. Devise an
argument about how and why the mall commonly excludes a particular product while including
another.

2. Gendered Possessions. John Berger argues “publicity is always about the future buyer. It
offers him an image of himself made glamorous by the product or opportunity it is trying to sell”
(132). While constructed for the male gaze, publicity does not exclude women, Berger asserts,
because women are able to be both the viewed, female objects and the viewing, male subjects.
Find one ad that seems to exclude women, and one ad that seems to exclude men. Test Berger’s
theory by close analysis. How and why does the ad include a particular gender identity, while
excluding another? Does publicity ever exclude the male gaze? Why or why not? Develop a
specific argument about how and why a specific advertisement sells to a gendered gaze.

When you cite a specific print ad, please be sure to attach it to your paper. Remember that close
reading of visual and textual material involves careful attention to detail. Please avoid
generalizations—the purpose of close reading is to analyze the material. Simply put: analyze,
don’t generalize! Your workshop group members will be looking for clear writing that offers a
well-organized, thoughtful analysis that uses evidence to support its claims. Make sure you check
for grammatical mistakes before you turn in your draft.

Here are a few helpful questions to ask yourself while you are writing:

    1. Have I offered a clear topic in my introduction?
2. Do I provide an original, compelling, debatable thesis statement? Do I support that thesis
   statement with a well-formed argument in my paper?

3. What is my evidence? Am I writing only summaries, or do I have objective evidence
   from the material that works to support a claim?

4. Do I simply present unsupported generalizations, or do I present specific, concise ideas
   that can be supported by the material? Have I analyzed my evidence thoroughly,
   providing specific reasons why the material works to support my claims?

5. Do I have transitions between my paragraphs? Do my paragraphs seem scattered, or do
   they follow a logical sequence? Do all of my paragraphs relate to my topic?

6. Have I varied my sentence structure? Do I use a variety of verbs and types of sentences,
   or do I use only “to be” verbs? Is my verb tense consistent? Do I overuse the passive
   voice?

7. Have I presented my argument in a style and tone appropriate to the formal writing
   assignment? Have I eliminated all colloquial language?

8. Have I proofread my paper thoroughly?

								
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