Sample Cultural Studies Paper on Asian American Popular Culture

Asian American Studies 4: Introduction to Asian American Popular Culture
Term Paper Assignment
The term paper must be 6-8 double-spaced pages, a minimum of 1800 words,
exclusive of endnotes and the bibliography. You may write on any topic within the
purview of this course on Asian Americans popular culture. Papers must be doublespaced, with normal margins, typed and uploaded to the course website and a paper
copy must also be submitted (double-sided printing is encouraged). Include your
name and discussion section at the top of the page in a single-spaced block. Add a
title and insert page numbers. Non-sexist language will be used.
The paper must be original writing with research using primary source material, like
historical documents or oral histories, supported by secondary source material. The
papers must include course concepts and if applicable, connect course material
(readings, film, lecture) to your research paper. Primary sources are original
documents created at the time of the event, such as diaries, speeches, letters,
newspapers, photographs (or participants’ memories created at a later time, as in
memoirs and oral histories), poetry, art, music, online blogs, and even tweets and
other forms of social media. Note that the assignment asks for a written document,
not a photograph or painting, though these certainly could also be included in
addition to the written document(s).
If possible, try to get archival documentation. For example, the UCSB Library has
special collections which can be used for research, the Japanese American National
Museum in Los Angeles has access to internee records. You may also consider
looking at archives of AAPI community newspapers and blogs. Otherwise, try to
locate the records by searching in our library, the internet, or other relevant archival
collections, like the UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library; the Vietnamese Oral History
Archive, the American Research Project Collection at UCLA; and Online Archives of
California,, among others. Primary sources serve as “raw
data” to interpret the past. Please integrate your primary source(s) into your paper in
a relevant and coherent way and analyze what makes Asian American popular
culture important. Tell the reader the significance.
Your paper must argue a thesis, be grounded in analysis, and supported by evidence.
This is not a summary about a person, film or event, but rather an argument-driven
paper with your analysis and interpretation of the topic given the evidence provided.
You may use a person, film, or an event (or anything within the purview of the
course) as the central topic of your paper, but the paper must have an argument. It
could analyze how the making of art or music fit into a particular historical period,
how those events shaped the artist’s worldview and how they responded to or
changed those events. Some questions to consider are: What were the major laws,
policies, or wars that affected this person’s life? Does the person’s story (e.g., dates of
immigration) make sense in light of contemporary Asian American popular culture?
Do aspects of the person’s gender, culture, economic background, religion,
geographic location (e.g., racial composition of the neighborhood) influence his or
her responses? Did they perceive any discrimination? How did they respond? If
applicable, what makes the cultural product significant in the context of Asian
American popular culture?