thesis must go beyond stereotypical statements H u m a n i t i e s
Essay 3: The Psychogeography Project
In Essays 1 and 2, we examined how
texts can help us better understand our
sense of “place” by asserting or
challenging dominant narratives, and
by representing a certain
neighborhood, culture, or community
After reading Thompson’s “Corporate
Sociability,” our task is to conduct our
own study of a particular neighborhood
in Los Angeles. You will research
independently in order to create a
scholarly essay that analyzes the effects of the geographical environment
(built or natural) on the emotions and behaviors of the individuals who live
or visit there.
Choose a neighborhood somewhere in Los Angeles County and analyze the
effects of the geographical environment (built or natural) on the emotions
and behaviors of the individuals who live or visit there.
The geographical environment may involve the landscape, architecture,
types of stores or restaurants, language on signs, presence of freeways or
public transportation, or other elements that give us a sense of “place” or
the personality of a neighborhood. In
essence, you are studying the
psychogeography or “psychic space”
of your chosen neighborhood.
The Thompson article is an example of a psychogeography study of
consumer spaces and how IKEA, the Apple Store, and Starbucks designed
their stores to have particular effects on the customer. You can use this
studies the effect of
the geographical environment on the
emotions and behavior of individuals.
: What do the palm trees on
this street tell you about the neighborhood?
What about lawns or lack of lawns? What
would a view of the Hollywood sign or
downtown communicate? Graffiti? Chain
stores? The number of cars? Are there any
physical indications or reminders of the
social or economic history of this street?
article as a model of how to write a psychogeography essay focused around
a main claim or idea. Your essay will also be focused around a complex
claim (your thesis) that offers an original idea or theory about the
personality of your neighborhood. Your task, as a writer/scholar, is to move
readers into a deeper understanding of the elements that characterize place
and how those elements affect us.
Choosing a Neighborhood
Start by considering a neighborhood that you
find interesting or unique, or one that you want
to learn more about. This might be a
neighborhood that you are already somewhat
familiar with or a neighborhood that is entirely
new to you. Remember that your goal is to add
original insights to a conversation about this
place, so even if you choose a neighborhood you
are familiar with, you will need to dig beneath a
surface understanding and deepen your
examination with thorough research.
This essay project will build on writing moves and strategies that we’ve
used in Essays 1 and 2. Your job as a writer/scholar is to lead readers
through an analytical and well-researched examination of your
neighborhood. You may set up this essay as either a deductive or inductive
argument. In either case, you will continue working with selecting and
using strong evidence, developing logical analysis, conducting research,
introducing and concluding the essay, using transitions, and citing sources.
Start by choosing a neighborhood that you find interesting or unique, or one
that you want to learn more about. This might be a neighborhood that you
are already somewhat familiar with or a neighborhood that is entirely new
to you. Remember that your goal is to add original insights to a
conversation about this place, so even if you choose a neighborhood you are
familiar with, you will need to dig beneath a surface understanding and
deepen your examination of the geographical environment with thorough
: Before you say, “That’s
easy! I’ll choose my own
neighborhood!” remember that
it can be very difficult to set
aside our ideas about a
familiar place and view it
through a new lens. For that
reason, it may be a good idea
to consider a place that you
are not intimately familiar with.
Keep in mind that the geographical environment may involve the landscape,
architecture, types of stores or restaurants, language spoken and/or on
signs, presence of freeways or public transportation, or other elements that
give us a sense of “place” or the personality of a neighborhood. In essence,
you are studying the psychogeography or “psychic space” of your chosen
Your analysis of this geographical environment may be focused through a
specific lens; for instance, you may want to analyze the neighborhood
through the lens of economics, architecture, psychology, social justice,
history, science, etc. Do not try to use too many lenses through which to
view your neighborhood. Remember that a strong essay maintains a clear
and specific focus throughout, so it will be your job to narrow your focus
and use a lens that offers the strongest or most original commentary on
Getting a Visual
Because this essay will analyze visual elements of a place, it is essential to
capture your visual text for the reader. Therefore, this essay will include a
visual component. This may be in the form of photographs that you have
taken of the location, a map you have created, or an infographic. The visual
should be relevant and serve to enhance the reader’s understanding.
In Essays 1 and 2, you conducted basic research in order to write about
your chosen narratives and songs. In this essay, you will build on those
research skills by conducting in-depth independent research. Your research
will likely take a variety of forms, which may be primary and/or secondary
Primary Sources include direct first-hand accounts, observations, and
evidence about an event, object, person, place, or work of art. This
document involves information that was created during the time that
is being studied and serves as an original source of information about
a topic. Primary sources may include:
o Historical firsthand accounts of important events
o Fieldwork, which may be: interviews with people who live in or are
the neighborhood, data such as building codes and demographics, and
personal observations/evidence from a visit to the neighborhood
Secondary Sources include scholarly books and articles relating or
discussing information originally presented elsewhere, information
about events that were not directly experienced, or analysis of works
created by others. Secondary sources may include:
o Scholarly articles analyzing your neighborhood (look in library
databases) o Historical research not written during the time period
Keep in mind that your essay is not simply a summary of facts about a
place or an historical overview. Instead, you will use the ideas that
you find in your research to develop your original analysis of the
neighborhood. Wikipedia may not be used as a source.
In this essay, you’ll want to set up a thesis early on in your paper. This
thesis should be a complex claim that offers an original idea or theory about
your neighborhood. For a deductive essay, you will state this complex claim
in the introduction, support it throughout the essay using evidence and
analysis, and return to your evolved/developed thesis in the conclusion. For
an inductive essay, you will begin with a hunch, idea, or question in the
introduction that you explore, develop, or answer throughout the essay
using evidence and analysis, and you will arrive at an evolved complex
thesis in the conclusion.
As you lead readers through your discussion, you’ll need to provide a
variety of evidence used throughout the essay, in the form of primary and
secondary sources. Avoid bringing in a source only to briefly mention it
once. Consider how you can use your sources multiple times, in different
ways, throughout the essay.
Your original ideas and insights will be a fundamental part of this essay.
Instead of merely repeating what others have said, your analysis should
discuss the deeper meanings of your evidence, and what it tells us about the
neighborhood. Ask yourself,
“So what?” Doing so will help you develop an argument about how your
evidence offers a unique understanding of this neighborhood.
Your essay should be a minimum of 8 full double-spaced pages with 1”
side margins, 1” header and footer margins, Times New Roman, 12 pt
Your essay should attempt to engage in analysis that goes beyond a
superficial understanding of your neighborhood. While stereotypes
may be discussed, your essay should not rely on stereotypes in place
of analysis, and your thesis must go beyond stereotypical statements.
Analysis should be driven by your research findings and your own
insights about your neighborhood.
Early on in your draft, you should form a working thesis to give your
readers a main complex claim or theory that explains how elements of
the neighborhood lead to certain attitudes, emotions, or behaviors.
Your essay must integrate and cite at least five credible sources from
your research. For your readers, you must accurately summarize the
ideas, theories, terms, or concepts you are using from your source
(making sure your summary is understandable to a reader who is not
familiar with the source you’re introducing, but that summarizing
does not take over your essay).
Use your sources as a springboard for your own claims, questions and
analysis. You cannot just incorporate sources to just add “facts” to
your essay. For this essay assignment, you must add to and help
develop the ideas from the source you bring in to offer your own
thinking about the neighborhood you are writing about.
Cite all sources in MLA format (in text), in addition to a Works Cited
page. Use Purdue OWL (linked on Canvas) to look up proper MLA in-
text citations and Works Cited formatting.
Proofread for mistakes and edit for clarity. Consider paragraph
organization and appropriate transitions to lead your reader through
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