Paper #2: Genealogy


Mass-media arts (e.g., the western, the soap opera, or rock 'n' roll) and mass-media artists (e.g., Bing Crosby or Marilyn Monroe) do not spring full-grown from the head of some electronic Zeus. They have genealogies; they bear traces--recombine and extend features--of their ancestors. This assignment requires you to graph (in the form of short essays) the antecedents of a mass-media art(ist)


Write an essay composed of four, approximately 250-word mini-chapters. Its overarching subject is the genetic material that converged to produce a particular work of art, artist, or art form in electronic culture. Title your essay something along the lines of "A Genealogy of Triphop," but also supply each of your four sections with a title of its own and a date that indicates when the topic you are discussing started. Construct your paper so that it resembles a more theoretically informed version of the short entries found at alt.culture or Robert Christgau's "The Prehistory of Rock n' Roll" (distributed in class).

Your essay should, in effect, declare: "Without this or that development, you couldn't have this mass media art(ist)." In both its parts and as a whole, it should simultaneously entertain and teach. And it should accommodate either "linear" or "spatial" (asynchronic) styles of reading. Concentrate on making your essay snappy and creative--a model of clear, intelligent writing.

Your goal here is to create a document that we, together as a class, can easily convert into hypertext and post on the W3. So along with your genealogy, submit graphics that could be scanned to accompany the electronic version of your paper. The plan for this paper has four phases.

1. Submit a printed copy of your completed paper. (You should save a back-up copy on disk for yourself).
2. After I have responded to your work--made comments and suggested possible revisions--use this template, which you can modify as desired, to create a basic, hypertext version of your paper.

3. Read all of your classmates' papers. In conference with your classmates, determine where you might create hyperlinks in your own work--hyperlinks that connect your research that of classmates and other web sites of interest. Build those links.
4. Post "A Genealogy of Mass-Media Art"--the cumulative essay created by our class--on the W3.


Ultimately, your grade on this project depends on completeness (put negatively, on a lack of gaps or errors in plotting out the genealogy of your stated subject) and on cleverness (demonstration of creativity in describing, conceptualizing, and displaying your subject). A paper that isn't publishable on the Web or that details a historyof some mass-media art(ist) will receive an "F" as its grade. (By the way, what's the difference between a history of you and your genealogy?) "A" and "B" papers are informed by data made available by utilizing a library. They're well written and publishable.

Throughout your paper, as you rely on the work of others, you should make attributions. For instructions on citing a printed source, click here.