Gender And Kids’ Culture

*Scroll to the bottom for links to source documentation and example materials

English Composition

In each assignment, you will use selected readings as background and for reference inside the paper. Keep in mind that these readings serve as secondary sources; that is, they serve secondarily, essentially as mere validation of your original analysis. Secondary sources function only in a supportive role to your own thoughts and work.

Usually much more interesting to write about and to read about are primary sources: items or materials which you look at and analyze directly. Here is where you can be most impressive in the writing process: by selecting unusual subjects that have been neglected (until your keen senses took heed), by considering them closely, and by conveying in writing their surprising importance.

Primary sources this time will come from children’s culture. Turn to toy store shelves for your fieldwork, or possibly to children’s TV (a.k.a. kidvid). Zero in on a specific item: a cartoon show, advertisement, board-game, coloring book, line of action figures, magazine, album, video, or line of food products marketed for kids. The secondary sources, or readings, address issues of gender conditioning. The objective of your paper is to demonstrate analytically how your game or toy conveys certain gender-specific values to children in this culture. Your subject must be current (older subjects like The Flinstones or Smurfs tell us nothing about contemporary culture and smell like file papers) and unusual (Barbie and G.I. Joe have been done to death; Beavis and Butthead and The Simpsons are not children’s culture, and little can really be said about Trolls).

First, take thorough notes including excruciating details about your chosen item: phrases on the packaging, physical description, significant rules of play, and so forth. Next, consider what values are being conveyed to the potential young consumers–and be precise and clever here. Read teh articles assigned, looking for key passages that relate in specific ways to your actual toy or game. Most crucially, develop a thesis statement about your “cultural artifact” concerning the issue of gender in some specific respect, one that conveys an important commentary on the values apparently conveyed through the toy or game, one that you will “prove” or illustrate with examples (the details you have noted).

Here are a few helpful links:

Text and source documents
Sample papers and revisions
Examples for primary sources
Judy: The Birthing Doll