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
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? 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.
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).
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
Meet back in the regular classroom for the second hour.
Reading #1: Evaluation
We’ll go fairly quickly over “Guns Are Evil. Everybody Should Have One” (Dargis, in Evaluation Samples), “The Culture of Violence” (Miedzian, in CP), "Were We Really That Bad?" (in Evaluation Samples), and "Army Boots and Romans" (in Evaluation Samples).
Reading #1: George Orwell - “Politics and the English Language”
Reading #2: Ed Smith - “Don’t Be Beguiled by Orwell”
Reading #3: Neil Postman - “Defending Against the Indefensible” (CP)
GROUP WORK on reading #2: Carr - “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” (CP). Evaluate Carr’s argument using two categories or ideas from "16 Categories” (Evaluation), “Weak and Strong Argument” (Evaluation), Orwell, Smith, or Postman.
I suggest looking at the this video and this video on logical fallacies. Also, I suggest taking another look at How to Write Essays and Research Papers More Quickly.
Reading: Migglebrink's “Serializing the Past” (in Texts: Mad Men). This is an insightful article that you may find quite useful in your own analysis of Cox. You don’t need to pre-view the following clip that we’ll examine in class:: "Meditations in an Emergency" (S2 E13: 13:00-21:00).
Viewing:“Babylon” (S1 E6). Watch this episode carefully. The focus here will be on Migglebrink’s argument about media and personalized history, yet references will also be made to Cox and feminism — especially in regard to the Belle Jolie scenes.
Make sure to look at Mad Men Notes and bring a hard copy of Cox's “So Much Woman” to class during Weeks 7-9.
3 Models For Your Evaluative Essay
In Evaluation I explain the importance of developing a larger context for your argument about Cox. In Weeks 7 to 9 I supply three specific examples of larger context arguments. Because these examples deal with history, feminism, marginalization, TV serial narrative, and American culture, they can also be helpful in contextualizing Cox’s argument about feminism in 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. She also says some very interesting things about the structure of the TV serial and about the relation of fiction to history. 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.
3. On Havrilesky
In Weeks 8-9, I’ll evaluate 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.
Reading: Havrilesky's “Stillbirth of the American Dream” (in Texts: Mad Men).
Viewing: "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. Rferences will also be made to Cox and feminism
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. While I will touch on Cox, and suggest angles you might explore, I will principally be giving you an example of how to provide providing context for an argument. What l do with Migglebrink and Havrilesky, you will need to do with Cox.
I suggest answering the following questions before looking at my arguments (immediately below) about inclusion and complexity in Havrilesky. 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 — 90 minutes on Tuesday and 90 minutes on Thursday (I’ll collect your Tuesday work and give it back to you on Thursday). 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, 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.
REMINDER: 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.