3690: A Journal of First-Year Student Research Writing

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Overview: The power of the media is remarkable. What we see on TV has the potential to shape our future and how we perceive others, as well as ourselves. Whether we are conscious of this phenomenon or not, we are the very byproducts of what television and other forms of entertainment present to us. With this in mind, we are able to see the flaws that are embedded in our society as a result of the media's influence. Today we see a growing number of children and adults coming out in the world identifying their gender as non-binary. The flaw that comes with this empowering movement is that there is a backlash from the public based on these gender non-conforming individuals. A primary way to improve this dilemma is for the media to incorporate non-binary characters into current television programs. By incorporating this concept into the everyday norm, genderqueer and gender variant individuals will feel better represented in a world they felt restrained in for so long. We have seen the benefits of having gender expansive representations in the media through television shows like Steven Universe, The Riches and Ugly Betty, and it is critical that the media creates more gender expansive characters for children.

Professor Cunningham's Reflection: Brandon's essay is impressive as a finished product that offers a polished and articulate argument on the necessity of providing nonbinary and gender-expansive youth with compelling media role models whose characters enable them to both imagine their own identities as possible and to see their lived realities reflected on the screen. His paper stands out for the complexity of the argument he constructs against a binary gender system, for the strength of the evidence he uses to support it, and for his skillful integration of source materials. Beyond this, Brandon's work is impressive for the invisible labor that remains unseen in the final product as he switched angles through the writing process, refined and strengthened his thesis multiple times, and came to better understood how to communicate the need for role models who were not yet fully present in media but also not yet fully reflected in the critical sources he initially utilized. Ultimately, Brandon's essay is an example of 199's research-based writing at its best.

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