Reading Papers Forum Mercy Gresham on Internet Pornography and the Teenage Brain

This is the second forum in which you’ll comment extensively and analytically on a paper written by a student. This paper is a paper written by one of my own students from two semesters ago.

Please remember: there are three primary ways that writers get better at writing: 1) they write often, 2) they get honest reactions from readers of their writing, and 3) they read a lot, especially of the kinds of writing they want to do well. This activity is where you aim to do focused practical reading of an example of a research paper by Mercy Gresham entitled “How Pornography Affects the Brain.” This paper can be found as a PDF in Module 3 and found as an attachment at the bottom of these directions.

The questions for this activity are what exactly is this paper doing? What is its design? How does it work?

The goals of this activity is a) to practice close analytic reading from the perspective of a writer, b) to see what a paper can look like, and c) to sharpen your analytical reading of academic argument.

  • Always aim to use paragraphs (Note: paragraph = 5-8 sentences), complete sentences, and well-developed thoughts.

1. A well-executed academic paper generally begins with a problem it wants to tackle. But Gresham’s introduction seems to have more than one problem. So what’s the best way to understand how she structures her introduction? And what exact problem is she addressing (and what’s the other problem)?

2. Surely, if pornography is bad, it’s bad for everyone. So how exactly does Gresham justify her focus on adolescents? Is it convincing? Why or why not?

3) She uses the words of Ted Bundy, a serial killer, as support for her argument. Why should we trust the view of a serial killer? Does Gresham take Bundy at his word? How does she want us to take Bundy’s claim?

4) How is Judith Hill’s position supposed to support Gresham’s argument? What does Hill’s idea do for Gresham? Be VERY specific here. Do you agree with how others characterize how Hill supports Gresham?

5) How do the results of the study on the ”Massive Exposure Group” support (if it does) or challenge (if it does) Hill’s position? Explain in detail. Do you agree with what others claim about this relationship between the study and Hill’s view?

6) Gresham notes, in her concession, that the psychoanalytic position offers a kind of “defense” for pornography. What is that defense and how does Gresham refute it? Is Gresham right about the psychoanalytic view being a mistake?

7) Where do you see really good uses of the “They Say, I Say” technique for using sources? Do you see places she’s especially good at it? How about points in her paper where the technique doesn’t work very well?