Assignment 1: Ad Analysis

Students will choose a political TV ad and write a 3-page (~750 words) analysis using at least one of the authors we've studied so far. In your response, please include a link to the TV spot. We will share a few examples during class. Questions that can help you structure your analysis (please use these as a guideline to brainstorm a well-argued, well-articulated short essay): What emotions does the ad appeal to? What themes and images does the ad use to elicit these emotions? How would you explain the effectiveness of the ad to a person raised outside the United States?

Assignment 2: Imagining a Campaign

Students will create a fake piece of political advertisement for the candidate of their choice. You can create a poster, a press release, a video, or imagine a public event for the candidate. You will also write a 2-page (~500 words) explanation for your ad, specifying who's the target audience, and why the ad's format, wording and imagery are effective to appeal to that constituency. To craft the ad and the explanation, you will use real media sources that describe candidates' supporters. We will discuss in class the imagined campaigns. We'll focus the conversation around media, cultural diversity and the challenges of political representation.

Final Paper: (Mini) Ethnography and Presentations

Students will write a (mini) ethnography of an electoral site. An electoral site can include a polling station, a political rally, a phone bank, a campaign headquarter, a voting rights organization, online campaign fora, or any other public space activated during election season or for the purpose of elections. For this final assignment, you will have to start early in the semester. By Session 7, you will choose your site and share it in class. During Session 11, you will turn in a one-page description (~250 words) of your research questions that will explain why the site of your choice makes sense to study the questions you've outlined. During Session 19, you will turn in a 4-page (~1000 words) paper with preliminary observations. During Sessions 26 and 27, students will present their projects in class. During Session 27 (the last day of classes) you will turn in a 10-page (~2500 words) research paper that includes a central argument, a methodology section, your findings and how these are similar or different to the arguments studied in class, and a conclusion.

Student Example

"On Political Satire: A Humorous Attempt to Subvert the Status Quo." (PDF)

The example above appears courtesy of a MIT student and is anonymous upon request.