English 102 – Unit I Assignment

English 102 – Unit I Assignment.

English 102 – Unit I Assignment

Cultural Artifact Research Project

For this assignment, you will write a researched essay on the connotative values of a cultural or personal artifact of your choosing. You will inquire into the nature and significance of the artifact (what it can tell us about the person and the culture for whom it is significant) and explore its cultural, social and historical contexts. Your research should begin with a question you can ask about this artifact. What do critics and scholars have to say about it? How do their views differ? How do their views affect your understanding of this artifact? What is the significance of this artifact? How does it represent the culture or you? Affect that culture or you? Through your research, you may solidify a claim about your artifact, but you should not begin this project with a preconceived argument.

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In this paper, artifacts can be defined as commercial/retail products (i.e. iPods, cars, clothing), personally meaningful items (i.e. collectibles, knick-knacks, souvenirs), or popular culture items (i.e. Facebook, TV shows, movies). Choosing an appropriate topic is very important and can be challenging. If you choose to write on sensitive, controversial topic, you should tackle it objectively, keeping in mind KU policy on diversity and inclusivity. You will complete this assignment by consulting a variety of credible secondary sources and discovering how your chosen artifact is represented and written about within the culture at large. We will look at popular magazines or blogs in which such a researched essay would be found, and you should format and cite sources in your paper in a similar way. Our in-class activities and collaboration will discuss inquiry-based research and help you generate ideas, but you should start thinking about a topic immediately.

The overall purpose is to ask a question. The goal of this assignment is not to find research to support a pre-conceived argument, but to ask a question and explore the nature and significance of the artifact. Your paper should reflect the research: you should present multiple views of your question, and while you should insert your own experience with the artifact, be sure to give credit to previous researchers, including those who may not completely agree with you. Your new ideas about the significance of the artifact should be the result of your inquiry, and that should be apparent in the paper. Be sure to provide evidence about various social, historical, and cultural factors that influence your artifact. In addition, what conclusions do you have to add to those of previous scholars/professionals in this field?

You will be writing your essay to the readers of one of the sources you have used. You will select which group of readers that audience is. For example, you can choose to write for readers of Rolling Stone, Time Magazine, USA Today, or other similar sources. These are not the only sources/audiences you can select from, but are several examples. Therefore, you will not want to devote large sections to explaining the artifact; the reader is likely already familiar with it. Instead, you will focus primarily on exploring the cultural significance of that object (including if it is no longer seen as influential).

Goals of this Project:

  • To build critical thinking by analyzing the cultural and historical importance and impact of a certain artifact
  • To practice finding and incorporating a variety of appropriate sources into your writing
  • To understand and respond to previous scholars/critics
  • To stress that many simple, everyday use items, when researched, turn to have a deep meaning and great significance throughout history
  • To encourage students to write a research paper on one hand and lessen their fear of this type of writing on the other hand 
  • To engage students with campus activities that will make them critical outsiders


  • 3-4 page essay (1000-1250 words),  double-spaced in MLA format with a “Works 

      Cited” page

  • Use of 4 outside sources and incorporate quotes. This unit will focus on popular sources, while further units will develop our understanding of academic texts. Still, these popular sources should be credible resources you can find about your topic (ie; not Wikipedia).
  • Credit your sources correctly by attributing the information from your sources as they do in the genre you choose (online blogs on the topic or published articles in a popular magazine) and use proper MLA in-text citations
  • 1-2 pages reflection essay

Grading Criteria

  • Fulfill all the requirements of the assignment listed above
  • Analyze primary source and explains its original context
  • Incorporate secondary sources effectively and accurately
  • Support all factual claims with cited evidence
  • Organize content in a way that flows well and is easy to follow
  • Address cultural issues appropriately and thoughtfully
  • Present an overall exposition that is interesting and insightful
  • Your authentic voice is clear, not silenced by over quoting
  • Writing is clear, appropriate, and effective
  • Spelling, punctuation, syntactical and grammatical errors do not appear in the final draft
  • Attend the International Jayhawk Festival and write a coherent reflection essay which will be allotted 3 points of the assignment weighting  

Important dates:

  • Proposal

(In your proposal, you need to identify your artifact, write a specific issue-based question or group of questions your paper will focus on, find and review two popular sources on this artifact and explain how important they are to your research. Finally, write a general expectation of your finding)

[1] This assignment is based on Kenton Rambsy‘s.

English 102 – Unit I Assignment

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