American Popular Culture

Moral Panic: A moral panic is an intense feeling expressed in a population about a “thing” that appears to “threaten” the social order. Popular Culture is literally “the culture of the people,” and popular culture texts (text just means something we can analyze) can include a variety of things including advertisements, popular fiction, graphic novels, television, film, popular music, magazines, videogames, and increasingly, the internet with sites like Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to name a few. Occasionally with popular culture texts that are new and different comes a moral panic of sorts about how that text threatens society in general or a particular aspect of society – sometimes they’re deemed to possibly cause the downfall of society (to state dramatically). This assignment requires you to find out about a moment in popular culture history when a public scare surrounded a popular cultural text of phenomenon. Remember, it can’t just be a disease or an event in American culture – it must be a popular culture text. You need to find something that has not yet been discussed in the course. For this assignment, you need to find a newspaper or magazine article from the time that your moral panic was happening and then to report about the popular culture production that caused the scare, the circumstances of the scare itself, and then the attitude that the newspaper or magazine seems to be taking about the controversy. There are five major steps to successfully completing this assignment: 1. Using the BSU library’s online resources, you will use keyword searches to locate an article that was written at the time of your “scare” you are researching. Your article can be from a newspaper or magazine published anywhere in the US (but it MUST be from the US.) 2. Save an electronic copy of the article to hand in (or if you have found your article on microfilm, make a printout. Ask a librarian if you’re not sure how to do this.) Upload your article in the appropriate link titled: Moral Panic Article Upload only. If you do not upload your ARTICLE you will lose 15 points from this assignment. 3. Answer the questions on the Moral Panic Assignment sheet to help you get thinking about this assignment. Linked above. 4. You will need to write a 250-400 word short essay that explains the popular culture production that caused the scare, the circumstances of the scare itself, and then the attitude that the newspaper or magazine seems to be taking about the controversy. In your introduction you should explain where you got the article (so you can use “I,” but the rest of your assignment should have a more historical/college writing tone.) Please make sure you upload your paper to the correct link. 5. Your discussion board post for Week 5 will be dedicated to your findings on this. You will do a primary post on your findings and a student response post.

Moral Panic: A moral panic is an intense feeling expressed in a population about a “thing” that appears to “threaten” the social order.  Popular Culture is literally “the culture of the people,” and popular culture texts (text just means something we can analyze) can include a variety of things including advertisements, popular fiction, graphic novels, television, film, popular music, magazines, videogames, and increasingly, the internet with sites like Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to name a few.

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Occasionally with popular culture texts that are new and different comes a moral panic of sorts about how that text threatens society in general or a particular aspect of society – sometimes they’re deemed to possibly cause the downfall of society (to state dramatically). This assignment requires you to find out about a moment in popular culture history when a public scare surrounded a popular cultural text of phenomenon. Remember, it’s can’t just be a disease or an event in American culture – it must be a popular culture text. You need to find something that has not yet been discussed in the course.

For this assignment, you need to find a newspaper or magazine article from the time that your moral panic was happening and then to report about the popular culture production that caused the scare, the circumstances of the scare itself, and then the attitude that the newspaper or magazine seems to be taking about the controversy. Your sources should NOT be schoarly or peer reviewed but rather materials for lay people (every day people, not doctors, scholars, or academics who would be considered writing from high culture.) 

There are five major steps to successfully completing this assignment: 

  1. Using the BSU library’s online resources, you will use keyword searches to locate an article that was written at the time of your “scare” you are researching. Your article can be from a newspaper or magazine published anywhere in the US (but it MUST be from the US.)
  2. Save an electronic copy of the article to hand in (or if you have found your article on microfilm, make a printout. Ask a librarian if you’re not sure how to do this.) Upload your article in the appropriate link titled: Moral Panic Article Upload only. If you do not upload your ARTICLE you will lose 15 points from this assignment. 
  3. Answer the questions on the Moral Panic Assignment sheet to help you get thinking about this assignment. Linked above.
  4. You will need to write a 250-400 word short essay that explains the popular culture production that caused the scare, the circumstances of the scare itself, and then the attitude that the newspaper or magazine seems to be taking about the controversy. In your introduction you should explain where you got the article (so you can use “I,” but the rest of your assignment should have a more historical/college writing tone.)
    1. Please make sure you upload your paper to the correct link.
    2. Your paper must include a complete bibliography or works cited at the end for the article you used. 

*Please note, riots themselves are not moral panics. In the examples where we discussed riots in class, it wasn’t the riots that were the popular culture thing. The riots were the result of a society’s or group of people’s reaction to or translation of tensions in a society (the zoot suit, or hip hop/rap music that suggested the racial tensions experienced by a community).

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