Download GHUM 1180 Assignments

Essay, due Week 12 30% ESSAY FORMAT


Write a 1500 word critical essay analyzing and critiquing one icon (an extraordinarily famous person or thing) from Western popular culture (e.g. Humphrey Bogart, James Dean, Pepsi Cola, etc.).

1) Try to be unique in your selection:

20 essays/presentations on Madonna or Elvis can be quite boring; try unusual and challenging iconographic studies, whenever possible (e.g. The Pentagon: what does it symbolize in our culture?  What did terrorists who attacked it believe that they were attacking, in a symbolic/iconographic sense?)

2) Of what is your icon symbolic?   What does your icon represent in the culture?   This section should be the largest section of your paper.

(a)  Discuss the semiotics of your icon– what are the signifiers in your icon’s appearance?  What is ‘signified’ by your icon?
(b)  Discuss Maslowian applications with respect to your icon;  on what levels of Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs does your icon involve or “hook” the perceiver, and how/why?
(c)  What would Marshall McLuhan have to say about your icon and the way in which it/he/she has been used in popular culture?   How is the medium actually the message in the various manifestations of your icon?    Can your icon or any of its by-products be seen as an “extension” of humanity (in the way in which McLuhan used this term)?

3) Be certain to discuss your icon’s meaning for all perceivers– for example, to many Americans, George W. Bush is a hero; to some, he is a war-hawk and a poor business manager; to many people internationally, he is an imperialist.  To some, Eminem or Tupac are champions of free speech; to others, they may be offensive; to feminists or pacifists, they may be considered misogynistic or violent.  It is imperative that you present a balanced view of your icon that discusses all aspects of meaning for all potential perceivers.  Be critical, even if you are a “fan.”

4) Be analytical and critical of your icon’s consumer applications– discuss in detail, for example, how your icon has become a ‘brand,’ used to sell posters, t-shirts, and other merchandise (e.g.  “Che Guevara, a revolutionary whose initial cause was a country’s liberation from fascistic oppression, is now a vague symbol of youthful resistance, whose meaning has become diluted and whose image is used to sell everything from t-shirts to vodka”) and how your icon is used as an ideological symbol, to promote a lifestyle or belief system; e.g. The Pentagon ~ defense, American patriotism, secrecy, etc.; James Dean ~ youth & rebellion, resistance, counterculture, etc.

5) Provide brief  historical background on the ‘story’ of your icon only where it is crucial to a study of iconography; you should concentrate more on symbolism, semiotics, meaning, usages, and effects of your icon in the culture.

6) Discuss briefly (in about 200 words) the icon’s impact on your own life and consciousness.  How has this icon been a major influence on your own existence, beliefs, consumer attitudes, etc.   Use the word “I,”  and talk about your feelings.

7) Use 3 hard-copy sources (books, articles, journals, newspapers), and create a bibliography (MLA or APA styles are acceptable).   Be sure to credit individual facts with in-text references, e.g… (Medaglia-Miller 34).  Even if you have not directly quoted from other sources, any ideas, historical facts, or opinions of authors other than yourself must be accurately referenced– at a college level, you must give credit to those who contribute to your essay in any conceivable manner.

You may use some web sources, but these must be included only in addition to your three books, journals, or newspaper articles.  You may not use a web source unless the following information is provided:  author, title of article, web publisher name (organization posting the article), and the date of the article.  In addition, you must, as per MLA/APA format, provide the date on which you ‘retrieved’ the article from the WWW.

If the article that you wish to use does not provide all of these data (ie. author, publisher, date, etc), then it is not an appropriate source to use.  Find another one.

8) Your work must be original– the submission of even a partially-plagiarized paper will result in an automatic failure.   Please write in your own words.

For more info on essay writing, click Essay Format ESSAY FORMAT
Mid-Term, due Week 7 30%
Exam, due Week 15 30%

Both the mid-term test and the final exam will consist of short answer or multiple choice questions.


“Pop Culture” can be a very enjoyable and worthwhile experience.  The class provides immeasurable rewards in many other aspects of students’ professional and personal lives.

The most important thing that we ask you to do, though, is to ATTEND.  Participation is theoretically impossible without attendance.  Interacting with classmates, participating in discussions, and viewing the prescribed films are all extremely valuable parts of this learning experience.

There are 14 classes (7 before Intersession Week and 7 after IW).  Students will be required to sign in for the class in the first half hour and to sign out of the class during the last 15 minutes, at specific times designated by the professor.

Signing in and signing out are very important responsibilities.  It is not the professor’s responsibility to see that you are there, and to record your attendance.

In the end, your participation mark out of 14 will be calculated as a mark out of 10.  Students who have missed MORE THAN FOUR classes out of 14 will relinquish/lose their entire mark (10%) for participation.