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Cultural Criticism: Test 1 (mid-term)

Cultural Criticism: Test 1 (mid-term)


Deadline:  Saturday, October 5 at 11:59 p.m. (upload your essay on Canvas)

Make sure to look through the entire document and read the instructions carefully. 


The point of your essay is to summarize key concepts (and writers’ contributions) for the categories of critical theory we have studied thus far. You should summarize the key points from the Malpas and Wake book chapter and then link that information to the content of specific essays we discussed in class. This test is intended to provide the opportunity to reflect on how well you have assimilated the material. You should, therefore, focus on synthesizing your ideas and analyzing the material rather than compiling an encyclopedic list of random facts—or new research you conducted on the internet. Please make sure to organize your comments within paragraphs and include an introduction and conclusion. 

Your essay should be TWO-TO-THREE pages of typed, double-spaced text (12-pt. font). If you include direct quotes from the reading, please use quotation marks and cite your source using MLA style (in text citations are fine for this assignment). You may use your notes and books/essays to answer the questions. You may also refer to information in the Malpas and Wake introduction (pp. 3-11) to help you structure your comments. 

Possible topics for your essay (write about only ONE topic, ONE textbook chapter and ONE essay in the list): 

1.Structuralism and Semiotics 

Simon Malpas and Paul Wake, Routledge Companion to Critical and Cultural Theory [hereafter Malpas and Wake], pp. 12-22.  

De Saussure, Ferdinand, sections from “General Principles” in Course in General Linguistics, pp. 65-78 ( 

Roland Barthes, “Myth Today” in Mythologies (New York: The Noonday Press, 1990), pp. 109-159. [Blackboard] 

2. Marxism, the Frankfurt School and its Legacy 

Malpas and Wake, pp. 37-50 (on Marxism) 

Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception,” in The Dialectics of Enlightenment (1944)  

3. Feminism  

Malpas and Wake, pp. 96-106. 

Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” Screen v. 16, no. 3 (Autumn 1975): 6-18. [for grads]

Jennifer Stuller, “Second Wave Feminism in the Pages of Lois Lane,” in Critical Approaches to Comics (2012), pp. 235-251. [for undergrads]

4. Gender and Queer Theory

Malpas and Wake, pp. 107-119

Judith Butler, “Imitation and Gender Insubordination,” in The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, ed. by Henry Abelove et al. London: Routledge, 1993. [for grads]

Gareth Schott, “From Fan Appropriation to Industry Re-Appropriation: The Sexual Identity of Comic Superheroes,” Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, v. 1, no. 1 (June 2010): 17-29. [for undergrads]

5. Race and Postcoloniality

Malpas and Wake, pp. 131-143

Aja Martinez, “Critical Race Theory: Its Origins, history, and Importance to the Discourses and Rhetorics of Race,” Frame, Journal of Literary Studies 27, 2 (November 2014): 9-27.

John D. Miles, “The Postindian Rhetoric of Gerald Vizenor,” CCC [College Composition and Communication] 63, 1 (Sept. 2011): 35-53.

Jessie Whitehead, “Invisibility of Blackness: Visual Response of Kerry James Marshall,” Art Education (March 2009): 33-39.

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