For this essay, you must look at a recent technology of your choosing as an American cultural product; it may be a technology you know well, or one you’re just interested in, but what’s important is you examine the technology as a product grounded in a specific expression of cultural perspective and practice.
This paper will run about 2,500 words. (Title Page, Abstract, and Works Cited go on their own pages and count for your total pages, but not for overall word count.) You’ll need to include all the components of a research paper we’ve discussed in class, and you’ll write in MLA style. The paper should contain the following sections, in this order:
Title Page: The title of the paper and information normally included in the heading (not header) of previous papers. This is its own page.
Abstract: What’s the paper about? A 100-word summary of the paper, probably including information on the research question, type of literature in the literature review, an overview of the technology, its place in American culture, and some indication of what sort of “takeaway” a reader might get from having read the paper. Since you need to know what to summarize, this section should be drafted last even though it comes on the second page of your paper. This is also its own page.
Introduction: Why are you writing this paper? This is the only section where it’s appropriate to tell a first-person anecdote about why you’ve selected this topic. Note how examples of research writing we’ve read lead up to their research question(s). Make sure you indicate where the paper is going and make your research question explicit. From here through the conclusion, this will be one large chunk of writing broken up by subheadings.
Literature Review: What has been written about this technology already? Just as we did with WP3, you’ll need to provide an overview of research about the topic. In this case, that should include summaries of any writing you feel is significant or otherwise noteworthy, a summary of the technology’s history and its connection to other (possibly older or existing) technologies. Also, you’ll want to explore whether anyone has published writing on this technology as a cultural product or influence before.
Cultural Analysis: What components of the American cultural system–in terms of perspectives and practices–have shaped this technology? This will flow from your Literature Review: You need to explain how America’s overall history and cultural systems have informed the field from which your specific technology originates. This is totally subjective, and while you can make any argument you’d like here, I’m going to expect that this analysis be as thoughtful as you can make it. Avoid stereotypes of American culture, and support every claim you make with published, credible research.
Discussion: So how might this technology be a cultural product connected to those practices and perspectives? Once your Cultural Analysis section has explained the overall systems of culture that are relevant, you’ll tie the technology into that. Show how those cultural practices and perspectives make their way into the technology. Of particular note will be the origin of, audience for, and use of the technology specifically, which will make your earlier research even more important.
Conclusion: What more can you say, in a broader sense or looking to the future, about this technology as a cultural product? Pull everything together here: Summarize/paraphrase to make clear the through-line from history to culture to this technology. Here is where you’ll want to make more sweeping statements and broader claims about this technology’s connection to a way of life, sense of history, and so on. This is also a great place to use your newfound understanding of technology and culture to make a prediction about what will happen to this technology in the future.