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English Library Instruction: 2. Topic Development

Topic Development Slides

Street Harassment & Research Questions

From Silvia Lin Hanick 


Frame: Research as Inquiry

Activity time: 25 minutes

Prep time: 20-30 minutes



Start by watching the viral video titled “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” commissioned by Hollaback, an anti-street harassment organization. This two-minute video shows a woman being followed, propositioned, and harassessed.

After the video ends, we ask students two questions via anonymous poll:

  • What do you think the makers of this video used as their research question?

  • What racial patterns did you see in the video?

Next, show excerpts from a blog entry written by Zeynep Tufekci titled, “Hollaback and Why Everyone Needs Better Research Methods and Why All Data Needs Theory” published on Despite purporting to represent a walk all over NYC, 59% of the interactions that made it into the short video took place in Harlem. And, as many viewers pointed out, only men of color are shown harassing the woman. In fact, the filmmaker admitted to editing out the caucasian men captured on film for various reasons, like unclear audio.

Class discussions can cover whether the filmmaker was justified in his decisions, whether the criticisms of the video were fair, and students’ own experiences with street harassment. Bring it back to the assignment by revisiting students’ answers to the first question about research questions. Having a good research question is key, and their suggestions were good research questions. But, when evidence is flawed, skewed, or biased, the argument will be weak. From here, transition into finding and evaluating sources.

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