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Embedded Resources: SNC

MCST 4050: Media & Popular Culture


Greetings! I'm honored to be your personal librarian for MCST 4050.

I can help you pick a topic, find articles, or answer any other question.  Seriously.  I got you!

I share office hours with an awesome team of librarians, so if you'd like some one-on-one help click here to book an appointment or let me know a time that works for you We're here for you!

Sarah Naomi Campbell| | 401-598-5019

Did you know you can also chat or text with a librarian?  It's anonymous, free, and super fast!  Simply click the Ask a Librarian button below, or look for it on our home page!


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On campus? Visit the JWU Writing Lab at either the Center for Academic Support at Downcity or Harborside for fast and easy help with assignments. Whether you're just getting started or need final editing advice, peer-to-peer and professional writing coaches are super kind and trained to help you at any stage of the writing process. For in-person tutoring, help with accommodations for students living with disabilities, and study-skills workshops, contact the Center for Academic Support, via USucceed in jwulink, Academics tab.

Top Tips for Working with the Writing Lab:

  1.    Walk-ins welcome; appointments strongly recommended.
  2.    Book an appointment by phone: 401-598-1309
  3.    Book an appointment online via USucceed: in jwulink, click Academic tab.

Did you know you can also submit your paper online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to Smarthinking for seriously awesome feedback within 24 -48 hours?  It's FREE!  Look for the link in jwulink, under the Academic tab, under Tutoring.

Citation chaining means searching backwards and forwards in time for materials that are cited by and also that cite an article or resource that you already have.

Backwards chaining is the process of looking at an awesome article(s) you've already found and searching for items in the works cited of those sources, which could be relevant and amazing for your research paper.

Here, you are looking back at past research in an attempt to track the development of the concept you are researching. As you find more resources, and use the citations listed in those reference lists, your network of resources will expand very quickly.

To access the resources you found by backwards chaining, simply copy the citation titles from the reference lists you have and paste them into the library's databases

Forwards chaining is the process of finding sources which have cited the awesome articles you are already using.

Here, you are looking forward at research conducted after your existing article, tracking the development of the concept you are researching.

Forwards Chaining

Using Google Scholar  we can also view a list of publications in which the authors' have cited this same article in their work. 

Open Google Scholar and paste the most intriguing article title into the search box from your original search

Underneath the article details, you'll see a Cited by link.  Simply click this link to access those titles/authors which have cited your title in their new research.

Let's start!

Activity: Practicing backwards and forwards citation chaining

  • Using the handout, write down a few search terms on your specific topic.  You might have to try a few terms before you find a good hit.
  • Next, head to the Databases & Journals tab in ulearn, under Library & Resources
  • Choose one of the databases from the list provided, or click the Everything tab on the library's homepage
  • Enter in your keywords, choose Full Text, choose Articles and limit date range to 2005-2019.
  • Scroll through your first page of results, and choose an article that "pops" out at you.
  • Open the red PDF Full Text to read the article
  • Scroll to the last page of the article, until you get to Reference List or Works Cited
  • Choose an article or book from the works cited that "pops" at you, to start your "Chain"
  • You've got your first article on the chain - now let's practice Forward Citation Chaining, using Google Scholar.
  • Choose the best article (the one closest to your dream topic) and copy the title
  • Paste the title into Google Scholar
  • Click the "Cited by..." link, to see all of the articles that have cited this article in their research.
  • Choose one of the articles listed, and POW! You have your second link in the chain.
  • Repeat as needed, until you've found your 6-8 articles.

Tip: articles published in the last few years might be too recent to have any other articles citing them. 

Backward and forward citation chaining

 Backward Citation Chaining:

Resources cited in the article

  Forward Citation Chaining:

Resources that cite the article

  • will be older than the article
  • help you identify past resources on the same topic 
    (such as theories or classic articles)
  • will be newer than the article you've already found  
  • help you identify more recent, relevant research  

There are two possible formats for this research project: a paper or an audio/visual file.

For the draft, submit a 1-2 page outline (paper format) or a 1-2 minute file (video or podcast format).

For the final project, submit a 6-8 page paper or a 6-8 minute video or podcast. The paper must be written in 12 point Times New Roman font with standard margins. The file must be emailed to the professor as an attachment or a link.

For whichever format you choose, cite a minimum of six scholarly sources, not including any interviews, trade, or popular news sources that you may wish to add. Be sure to include at least one article from Popular Communication; (18 month delay) New Media & Society; Celebrity StudiesJournal of American Culture (limited time range) European Journal of American Culture; Critical Studies in Media CommunicationCommunication/Critical Cultural StudiesCommunication, Culture & Critique; or the Journal of Communication.  

Start by exploring articles in the Everything tab on the library's homepage

Need help? Reach out for a Research Appointment with a librarian.

Need help? Reach out for a Research Appointment with a librarian.

Genre Analysis: This paper asks you to synthesize how genres structure and are structured by popular culture. Possible genres include television (e.g. comedy, drama...), music (e.g. rock, blues...), film (e.g. science fiction, foreign...), books (e.g. cooking, romance...) or others. You may also wish to consider how the cultural industries use genres for marketing purposes or how genre borders change over time. This option may take the form of a theoretical piece or a research study. At a useful point in the paper, you must demonstrate how scholars have synthesized genres.

Cultural Event: This option situates your research in a popular setting and requires you to learn the craft of the ethnographer. You will place yourself in a specific scene for the purpose of description and documentation (e.g. concert, festival, play, performance, protest). You should take copious notes and construct a thick description of what you observe. Pay attention to the event as a whole and the messages of the text in the broader context of an industry or audience. At a useful point in the paper, you must demonstrate how scholars have described similar events.

Genealogical Analysis: This paper asks you to construct and analyze the genealogy of a popular phenomenon. Your paper might trace the history of a subject (artist) or object (art), analyzing the breaks and identifying the ruptures related to a particular idea. Examples abound, from the story of animal rock bands to the lineage of telenovelas. At a useful point in the paper, you must demonstrate how scholars have analyzed the phenomenon or approached genealogical analyses in general.

Media Criticism: This option requires you to critique a topic related to popular culture. You can choose to read any book, film, television show, album, etc. that is not assigned for the course; if you choose a book, consider one that is historical, biographical, autobiographical, etc., such as the life story of Marilyn Monroe, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ellen DeGeneres, etc. You may critique one text or compare and contrast two or more texts. At a useful point in the paper, you must demonstrate how scholars have critiqued the text or a similar class of texts.

Lyrical Analysis: This option focuses on song lyrics, emphasizing how lyrics are messages sent by messengers. Papers can interpret a single song or several songs within the context of a particular album. At a useful point in the paper, you must demonstrate how scholars have interpreted the song or a similar class of songs.

Personal Narrative: This paper should emphasize how you or another have found pleasure in popular culture, or struggled against it, perhaps in terms of identity, ideology, community, race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender and so forth. You may also elect to write a fictional account. At a useful point in the paper, you must demonstrate how writers have approached an issue in popular culture from fictional, narrative, auto-ethnographic, personal, or otherwise creative angles.


Each paper will require at least six scholarly sources, defined here as book chapters or journal articles; this requirement is in addition to any popular or trade press articles that you wish to use. Be sure to include at least one article from Popular Communication; New Media & Society; Celebrity Studies; Journal of Popular Culture; Journal of American Culture; Critical Studies in Media Communication; Communication/Critical Cultural Studies; Communication, Culture & Critique; or the Journal of Communication

Attach a complete works cited page and cite all sources parenthetically in either MLA or APA style. Check out the OWL for help, or reach out for an appointment with a Writing Coach, submit your paper to Smarthinking, or make a Research Appointment with a librarian.

Did you know you can copy and paste citations if you use the library's databases?

1. Save time -  look for the "Cite" Button or " " icon.

2. Scroll to the style you need (MLA, APA)

3. Copy and paste the full citation into your paper

Ta Da!  You're done!  Well, almost.  Sometimes weird formatting issues happen, so always double check your work.



Need help with in-text citations or more complicated citations?  Use the OWL It's super easy, and totally simple. This is also a really good time to make an appointment with a writing tutor to make sure your paper is totally perfect and all your citations are good to go.

Citing Images 

Image label (If including image in your written work):

Fig. 1 New York Sunshine. (WGSN Denim Team, [Sept. 2018]).

In the text:

WGSN Denim Team [Sept. 2018].

In your list of figures or references (omit figure number if you haven't included the image in your assignment)

Figure 1. WGSN Denim Team. [Sept. 2018] New York Sunshine. WGSN. Denim Forecast S/S 20: Empower Up! [Online image]. available from