The following is a draft only. The final version will be ready the first day of class, in May.
Schedule: Weeks 6-10
Think Ahead to Week 10
Essential Reading: 1. Evaluation - Read this page carefully! Also look closely at Research, which has detailed citation information and examples. 2. Cox. Read Cox's essay very carefully and read the in-class essay instructions under Week 10 very carefully. While you're planning your essay and watching the show, try to answer these questions: What does Cox argue, and where does she argue it? Why is her argument convincing or unconvincing? What outside context supports your evaluation?
Viewing requirements. You must watch the first season of Mad Men, as well as “The Gold Violin” (S2 E7), “The Mountain King” (S2 E12), and “The Summer Man” (S4 E8). In the first season, pay particular attention to “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” (S1 E1), “Babylon” (S1 E6), and “The Wheel” (S1 E12).
Resources. The Douglas College library has a large number of books on Mad Men, such as Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the Television Series; Mad Men: Dream Come True TV; Mad Men; Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style, and The 1960s; Lucky Strikes and a Three Martini Lunch: Thinking About Television's Mad Men. There are also a very large number of academic articles on the series. I suggest applying what you learn in the library right away by finding several articles that you might use in the Week 10 in-class essay.
WEEK 6: Evaluation
Library Visit: 6:30-7:40
At 6:30 go to the instructional room on the left as you enter the library. Meet back in the regular classroom at 8:00.
Readings: Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language,” Smith on Orwell, and Postman’s “Defending Against the Indefensible” (CP)
GROUP WORK on CP “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” (Carr; bring a hard copy).Use two categories from "16 Categories,” “Weak and Strong Argument” (Evaluation), Orwell or Postman to evaluate Carr’s argument.
Readings: Migglebrink's “Serializing the Past.” Take a look at Mad Men Notes and bring a hard copy of Cox's “So Much Woman” to class. We will also look at the CP “The Culture of Violence” (Miedzian) and the sample essay "Were We Really That Bad?" in Evaluation Samples, as well as CP “Canadians: What Do They Want?” (Atwood) and the sample essay "Army Boots and Romans" in Evaluation Samples.
I suggest looking at the this video on the straw man fallacy. In writing evaluative essays, many students misread, simplify, exaggerate, or reduce Cox’s points using straw man arguments. Read Cox very carefully, and make sure to represent her arguments accurately.
Make sure to re-read Evaluation, noting in particular the section about three levels of evaluation. In the following two paragraphs I point out how a larger framework or contextualized argument is made by me in "Army Boots and Romans" (in Evaluation Samples) and by Migglebrink in "Serializing the Past” (in Texts: Mad Men).
In “Army Boots and Romans” I argue that Atwood’s argument is flawed in its own terms (her sexist vision of men and army boots) and in terms of her simplistic placement of Canada in relation to empire. I argue that Canada is less like Roman Gaul than Transalpine Gaul, and that any argument about Canadian attitudes toward empire must take into account the British Empire. Look again at the rhetorical analysis, “The Bristling North,” and notice how it differs from “Army Boots and Romans.”
In “Serializing the Past” Miggelbrink praises Mad Men by advancing a theory about narrative complexity. The article is also an excellent introduction to complex TV narratives and to the recent wave of complex TV serials -- The Sopranos, Deadwood, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Boss, Homeland, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, Magic City, Rectify, Masters of Sex, The Americans, Black Sails, Designated Survivor, Borgia, Suburra, Peaky Blinders, Line of Duty, Happy Valley, Sneaky Pete, Ozark, Maniac, etc. Try to keep in mind the narrative arcs and larger themes in Mad Men, and make sure your points and arguments take them into account. You don’t want to make an argument about one aspect of the show that is contradicted by another. We may have time in class to look at how history is personalized in "Meditations in and Emergency" (S2 E13 - YT version). We will certainly look at Rachel and the theme of isolation in "Babylon" (S1 E6). This episode also contains the Belle Jolie scene which Cox uses extensively.
Your Argument For Week 10
In Weeks 7-9, I’ll develop two arguments — one evaluating Migglebrink’s argument about history, and another evaluating Havrilesky’s argument about the American Dream. You can use aspects of my arguments, yet you need to come up with arguments of your own. I will occasionally touch on Cox, and suggest some directions you might take in evaluating her, yet I’ll spend most of the time creating model frameworks — that is, creating larger frameworks about history and the American Dream that serve as models for your own creation of larger frameworks. If you still aren’t sure what I mean here by larger frameworks, take another good look at the three levels of evaluation I discuss in Evaluation.
"Meditations in an Emergency" (S2 E13: 13:00-21:00)
“Babylon” (S1 E6: 19:30-47)
- the focus here will be on Migglebrink’s argument about media and personalized history; references will also be made to Cox and feminism
"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (S1 E1: 22-49)
"The Wheel" (S1 E13: 31:00-41:00)
"The Gold Violin" (S2 E7: 24:30-47:00)
- the focus here will be on Havrilesky’s argument about the American Dream; references will also be made to Cox and feminism
NOTE: For essays # 2 and # 3 you must use outside sources and you must document these according to APA or MLA conventions. For bibliographical information and format, see the EAA sections or Purdue University’s OWL interactive site — the general “Research and Citation” section (screen grab below) — and the APA section. I strongly suggest familiarizing yourself with documentation format immediately, so that you’ll be sure to collect the necessary type of information as you go along. The "Using Research" and "Conducting research" sections are very helpful in this regard.
Pay particular attention to the following sections in "Using Research":
Texts: Havrilesky's “Stillbirth of the American Dream.”
In Week 7 we looked briefly at Migglebrink's argument about history and complexity in Mad Men, and touched on key aspects of Cox's article. In Weeks 8-9 we’ll look at the arguments of Havrilesky and Cox in terms of the American Dream, feminism, and the related concepts of inclusion and complexity.
I suggest answering the following questions before looking at my arguments about inclusion and complexity (immediately below). Is Havrilesky’s definition of the American Dream accurate? What other definition might not work so well for her? How scholarly is her article, compared to the articles of Migglebrink and Cox? What proof from the show does Havrilesky use? What proof from the show might she have used? Keeping in mind Migglebrink’s idea about story arcs, which arcs does Havrilesky include and which does she leave out? What type of context could you use to evaluate Havrilesky’s argument?
In class I’ll argue that Havrilesky’s definition of the American Dream is too limited. Omitting the Dream’s ideal of inclusion, she ignores one of the show’s main strategies — to create sympathy and anger by dramatizing exclusion. These emotions move the audience to desire inclusion, especially for women (Peggy, Betty, Joan, Rachel, etc.), gays (Salvatore), African-Americans (Sheila, Dawn, Hollis, etc.), and Jewish-Americans (principally Rachel).
I’ll also argue that Havrilesky misreads the complexity of Mad Men. Focusing on the superficial aspects of the show, she misses the psychological depths and nuances of the characters, as well as the type of sociological and historical complexity Migglebrink explores in “Serializing the Past.” Havrilesky argues that the show reflects a 'stillbirth,' that is, a death of the Dream before it's even been born. Yet she leaves out the history of the Dream, and ignores the idea of inclusion. She fails to appreciate the complexity of the characters, who are in the process of supporting or tearing down the barriers that keep American society from realizing its collective Dream.
WEEK 10: In-class evaluative essay (30%)
In-class evaluation of Fiona Cox’s article. You’ll have three hours to write the essay. You can write on the author’s overall argument or on a part of it. If you write on a part of it, establish in your introduction why the part you chose is crucial to the success or failure of the author’s overall argument.
You MUST bring in a typed bibliography and a typed 200-300-word full outline. You may also bring in 100-150 words of quotes. Provide a word count for the outline and quotes. You can have the quotes on a separate sheet of paper or you can insert them into your outline. In the latter case, highlight your quotes (or use a clearly different font) so that I can see them easily.
You must hand in a full outline. Make sure to follow the format of the sample full outlines for “Target Audience” (on Lord of War), “Turning the Tables” (on Gandhi), and “Army Boots and Romans” (on “Canadians”). Use complete sentences in your thesis statement and topic sentences, yet point form for the bulleted points.
You cannot bring in an Introduction or Conclusion. The outline must consist of a one-sentence thesis statement and one-sentence topic sentences.
You can’t use your computer, and should therefore bring in a hard copy of the article. There can be no writing on the hard copy, although you can underline and highlight as much as you want (I suggest colour-coded highlighting).
You MUST use at least
- Three specific references to Cox
- Three specific references to episodes of Mad Men, seasons 1. You’ll need to show a clear understanding of the first season as well as “The Gold Violin” (S2 E7), “The Mountain King” (S2 E12), and “The Summer Man” (S4 E8).
- Three specific references to different scholarly sources (which can include Migglebrink and Cox, but not Havrilesky)
Bibliographical Formation: For Cox, Migglebrink, or Havrilesky, don’t supply bibliographical information; simply supply the paragraph number in parentheses. Don’t give bibliographical information for Mad Men; instead, supply the episode title, the season, and the episode number, using the following format: (“Babylon,” S1 E3) or “Babylon” (S1 E6). If you're looking in detail at a very specific moment in the show, it may be helpful to indicate the exact time — as in (“Babylon,” S1 E3, 23:15-26:30) — although this isn't a requirement. Make sure to cite all other sources according to MLA or APA.
There's no word limit for this essay. The average paper is about 800 words. Those who have grammatical problems should write less and proofread more. Excellent papers tend to contain detailed analysis and tend to be longer. Don’t, however, pad your paper or repeat yourself — this will just lower your mark.