Finding a topic: Try to consider more than one topic to start by considering the events of your birth year and your existing interests.
Consider the following:
What European region is most interesting to you?
Do you have the language skills for that area?
What topic has potential for primary research?
Do you want to have a relationship to your major?
Keep in mind that instead of a general topic like "European advertising," it helps to be more specific by locating a particular region and particular event as a focus point.
Example selection process using the year 1974:
General interest in media coverage of events
1974 Portuguese Carnation Revolution
1974 Turkey invades Cyprus and Cyprus retaliates
1974 Venice Biennale closed for a "Freedom for Chile" event to oppose Pinochet
I decide to focus on the Venice Biennale.
Title: Try to phrase your topic using “media,” in the title. Or you may include a specific aspect of media in the title such as "television," "internet," etc.
The Media Coverage of the Venice Biennale
Then frame your topic with a when and where.
The North Atlantic media coverage of the Venice Biennale in 1974 and 2003.
I am choosing North Atlantic media because it is in English. I am choosing those specific years to narrow the topic and because both years involved a closure of the Biennale, in 1974 for political reasons and in 2003 for artistic reasons.
1974, all pavilions closed for “Freedom for Chile” media event
2003, Spanish Pavillon closed by artist Santiago Sierra
Google your topic: Once you have decided your exact topic, check to see if there is a major book or journal article that has already been done on the topic. It does not mean you cannot do the topic but that you will need to own your angle.
Interest & Intention: Before you start researching and writing it is helpful to write out your interest and intentions. If you can understand why you are interested in the topic it will help you develop and angle. Find out about your own a priori values and biases.
What is my bias?
A love of the topic?
A preferred conclusion?
Do I hold the majority opinion?
Point of View: Try to consider your topic differently to understand your initial opinion.
•State your topic from a positive point of view:
The North Atlantic media coverage of the Venice Biennale in 1974 and 2003 functioned as good diplomacy.
•State your topic from a negative or critical point of view: The global media spectacle of the Venice Biennale in 1974 and 2003 expanded controversy.
•State your topic neutrally:
The North Atlantic media coverage of the Venice Biennale in 1974 and 2003 offered a forum for global political issues.
You will start with a neutral point of view with the goal to gain an informed opinion.
Starting: The North Atlantic media coverage of the Venice Biennale in 1974 and 2003 created a forum for global political issues.
Concluding: During 1974 and 2003, the Venice Biennale played an active role in engaging the North Atlantic media in global political events.
Primary Research: Can you get to the actual object or material you are researching? Can you get to a replica? Consult photos, television broadcasts and quotes. Consider an interview. If the most important person is inaccessible (dead or too famous) then you should try to contact someone as closely related as possible. Doing an original interview for your research is ideal, even if it means interviewing a publicist, news reporter or someone secondary. You may be surprised to realize how many people will kindly respond to an email from a serious student. It is acceptable to contact people by email for quotes, you may also consult autobiographies and other books of testimony if an interview is impossible.
Scholarly Research: People sometimes claim “there are no scholarly articles on my topic.” It may be true that no scholar has researched “The history of graffiti design in Ibiza,” but you should be able to find articles related to larger issues (graffiti in general). Newspapers like The International Herald Tribune can be helpful but are NOT scholarly. The first places to look for material are the textbooks and suggested reading used for the class. You should consult academic journals and can use Google Scholar.
Read scholarly articles: Once you find a scholarly article, you should read it and decide how it relates to your topic. It is not enough to find A source online and put it in references. You should try to understand the method of the article, the point of view and the conclusions. Does this research support or go against what you want to say? That is the most basic way of understanding it.
Quote & Cite Scholarly Articles: In your paper and presentation you should reference scholarly articles by the name of the researcher and the title. You should include a quote or main idea from at least one scholarly article in your paper.
New Media, Politics and the 1968 Venice Biennale
Francesca Franco, Birkbeck College, University of London
After reading it this author also discusses 1974.
Media Research: Have you done a Google image search on the topic? Have you searched your topic in You Tube? What about music related to your topic…have you listened to it? Screened films or related television? You can submit a cd of images, portfolio, playlist or other material for extra credit worth 5 %.
General note about media searching and website authenticity – please always check the original website for your material. Blogs and some group run websites are obviously not the same as educational site, general databanks or Wikipedia.
Terminology: When describing your topic in the paper, include the terms in our book or in class discussions
The “political parallelism” of Italian media is evident in their coverage of the Biennale.
The “professionalism” of journalists was high at the 1974 Biennale.
The “North Atlantic” press did not emphasize the Spanish pavilion in 2003.
-The topic is directly related to this course: Media at the Venice Biennale
-The title is clearly stated “The North Atlantic Media Coverage of the Venice Biennale in 1974 & 2003”
- The paper is clearly organized. Work with an outline or use headings to sections.
II. Tell the story: The Biennales in 1974 & 2003
III. Summary of primary evidence
IV. Accepted opinions
V. Alternative opinions
VI. New point of view
-The intention is clearly presented at the beginning of the paper
“Since 1895, the Venice Biennale has served as a forum for global media and political issues. I will examine the North Atlantic media coverage of the Biennale in 1974 and 2003.”
- You have conducted primary research on the topic
- You have conducted scholarly research and quote it in the paper
- You have conducted media research and cite it in my paper
- You use the terms from our books and/or class discussions
- You have an informed point of view in the conclusion (can you state it in a sentence?)
- You follow the style guidelines and meet page requirements and if time allows, you have given the paper to someone just for a typo check
-If desired, you have created a CD, portfolio or other format of images or other supplementary media material for extra credit of 1-5%