(developed with much gratitude and the help of Ida  Ferman, Lisa Coletta,

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and Donna-Mae Villanueva)



Many or most of us become stuck in one place:  a particular city, neighborhood, or mode of  life.  This is a place where we continue to live, work, shop, go to school, and make friends.  The most common element about these places is that they are familiar, and when something or some place is familiar, it is safe and comfortable.  Travel, of course, takes us away from that comfort and forces us into strange, compelling, yet possibly disconcerting situations which can make us feel like aliens.  For this paper, I want you to feel that alienation.


“LOUD MUSIC.  That was my first impression of the Whisky-A-Go Go.  Scratchy, raunchy, techno, but always very loud.  I stood outside the front door in the smoggy Sunset Boulevard air and let the music surround me, grab my shirt tail and pull me inside . . . The Whiskey is a Barn.  A big, ugly barn.  There’s not a       square inch that hasn’t been puked on.  It’s not unusual to find blood smears on            the wall and old, wild-eyed drunks asleep under the tables . . . ”


“Bouncing at the Whiskey”

Jeffrey Shore


Like Jeffrey Shore, for this assignment you will be examining, exploring, and immersing yourself within another culture.  To do this you must first decide what place is an “Alien Territory” to you.  Simply put, an “Alien Territory” is a place that is unfamiliar to you–in short, alien.  We have been and will continue to examine through our readings and discussions various alien cultures as well as our own.  But this remains activity in the vacuum of a classroom.  For this assignment you will actually visit online the place you choose as your “Alien Territory.”

Below are some suggestions (please note – you are not limited to these):


  • Try a new hobby: this could be online or in your own home.  For example, you could experience online poker or try cooking a new type of food.
  • Explore another city or country Find out more about a city or country you have never been to – but would like to visit one day.
  • Attend a church service of a religion new to you.   This could be online or in person (whatever you feel most comfortable with).
  • Explore a new form of music online. For example, if you always listened only to Jazz music, explore Country music.
  • Try a new sport. For example, you can try swimming, hiking, bicycling…


Since I am giving you this assignment at the very start of the semester, you should experience your “Alien Territory” more than once so you can properly saturate yourself in the culture of the area.  Make your brain function as a video camera and take in all the sights and sounds. Be aware of your feelings and attitudes.  Are you uncomfortable?  Are you judgmental?  Are you attracted to the place/situation?  Repelled?  Why?


I am also giving you this assignment well in advance, so you will have enough time to complete the research required for this paper.


Within this paper you must discuss what thoughts, ideas, and preconceptions you had about your “Alien Territory” before you went there, and also what perceptions you were left with after you visited your “Alien Territory.”  You will also want to discuss what preconceptions stayed the same and which ones changed.  The way you structure the rest of your paper and incorporate research will be left up to you.  Develop your own topic but use the guidelines set forth in this paper.  You must follow the requirements listed below.




  1. 1. This paper must be 8 typed, double-spaced pages of essay.
  2. 2. You must research this paper in the library and use at least five reliable sources. From these five at least three must be from different types of sources (for example:  books, magazines, newspapers).  The information you decide to use must be applicable to your topic, main point, and purpose.
  3. 3. You must quote from at least three of these sources within your paper and document them according to the MLA style.
  4. 4. You must include a “Works Cited” page (which will count as a separate page from the eight pages of essay).
  5. 5. You must interview at least one person in your “Alien Territory” and incorporate this interview within your paper and within your “Works Cited.” This will count as one of your five sources.  Note – you may do a phone and/or email interview.
  6. 6. You must also do a short oral report (5 minutes) on your essay and research (see schedule in syllabus). This will count as 1/3rd of the overall score for this project.




Be sure to find a clear focus to your ideas–do not write a series of unrelated facts and incidents that will not create a coherent meaning.  You will be evaluated on how well you synthesize and analyze your research and ideas.



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