This worksheet will help you to define and focus your topic and provide examples of how to do so. For example, let's say that you are required to write a six- to ten-page paper on films of your choice on a topic of your choice.  Below is an example of how to define and focus a topic using the example of "gender stereotypes.” Use the work space on the left to work on your own topic.

 

 

YOUR WORK SPACE

 

EXAMPLE

 

Step 1

 

Step 1

 

 

Carefully Read Your Assignment and answer the following questions.

What type of assignment is this? _____________________________________________

 

How long is your assignment?
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What kinds of resources are required?
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What do you think your instructor wants you to learn from this assignment?
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What do you hope to get out of this assignment?

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Carefully read your assignment.

For example:

-A paper on a controversial issue.

 

 

-Assignment is 6-10 pages long.

 

 

-I have to use at least 4 scholarly resources, including books, book chapters, and scholarly journal articles.  In addition, I may use up to 4 articles from popular magazines.

 

 

 

 

 

-This class is my basic writing course.  I think my instructor wants me to learn how to use various sources of information to write an original paper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-From this assignment, I hope to gain experience using scholarly resources to back up my own ideas and to help me make a strong point.

 

 

Step 2

 

Step 2

Write down everything you know or want to know about your topic.


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Write down everything you know or want to know about your topic.
-Gender often plays an important role in movies.


-The issue of gender is often expressed on film as issues of men and women breaking gender stereotypes or taboos, i.e. a woman doing “a man’s job” or a man doing “woman’s work.”


-How does the portrayal of gender in films relate to gender roles and issues in the real world?


-I need to decide on a few films that explore the ways in which people try to overcome the narrow strictures or expectations of gender roles.


-What is the role of society in the construction of gender roles, and how is this societal role played out onscreen?


-Gender roles are more malleable than they were in my parents’ and grandparents’ generations.  How do the films I’ve chosen reflect, deflect, or reinforce changing societal mores?

 

 

Step 3

 

Step 3

Write a topic statement.
Look at the list you made of what you know and want to know about your topic. If the list reveals a common theme or area of focus, use it to help write your topic statement.

 

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Gender stereotypes play an important role in Legally Blonde, Daddy Day Care, and Flashdance. In all three films, notions of what is and is not “woman’s work” are explored.