University of Michigan Alcohol and Addiction Paper


American Addictions – Paper #1 – Prompt
Paper #1: Context
This term, you will complete two papers on an addiction of your choice. Both will discuss the
same topic, so pick one you find interesting. It can be anything that fits under the umbrella of
“addiction.” Your topic does not have to be an acknowledged addiction or disorder—in fact, many
of you will pick topics precisely because their habit-forming potential is contested!
For your first paper, you should find a pair of recent sources from the last ten years on your
chosen topic. (Note: if you pick a topic on the syllabus, it can’t be a source that is on the syllabus.
Find something new!) These sources can be any number of things: a scientific paper, a newspaper
story, a first-person account, a YouTube video. The idea is to pick two different types of sources
so you can flesh out how your addiction is understood or experienced today. So spend some time
Googling, on PubMed, or elsewhere to assemble a pair of sources that will give you some space
to say something new and interesting about your addiction as it exists in the present day.
Once you have your two sources, your task is to analyze them in context. The way I would do
this is to connect each of them to an overarching theme of the sort we discuss in class. Examples
include morality, productivity, economics, and gender. There are tons of other options, too! The
goal for Paper #1 is to make an original point by arguing about how your sources speak to one
another and/or your overarching theme. It is not enough to summarize both; rather, you want to
ask yourself some questions: are there embedded assumptions in either source that need
unpacking? Moral judgments just beneath the surface? Some way they disagree that is interesting
or sheds light on addiction overall? Give us a sense of what’s at stake in your sources, similar to
how you read things for discussion and/or how you argue in your collaborations.
Your ability to offer an interesting interpretation by using a course theme determines your grade
for the paper, which is worth 20 points and thus 20% of your overall grade. Think of this
assignment as a chance to start thinking about your chosen addiction and to flex the analytical
muscles we’ve been bulking up. You can adopt any perspective you want, but it’s important to go
beyond summary and into analysis. We’ll discuss this more in class, including by using a handy
worksheet that will ensure you are getting off on the right thematic and topical feet!
● Format: 8.5×11, 1” margins, 12pt Times New Roman font, double-spaced
● Use in-line author-page citation (e.g. Cowles 43) with works cited at bottom
● Length: Between 950 and 1,050 words (excluding title/works cited section)
● Due: Friday, 27 May at 11:59pm via the Modules/Assignments tab on Canvas
● Logistics: Your name, a title, link to source, proper formatting, length, &c. [5 point]
● Analysis: Do you make an interesting point and tie it to a course theme? [5 points]
● Evidence: Did you back it up with specific references to the source? [5 points]
● Composition: Clarity of presentation, structure and organization, style, &c. [5 points]

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