I use T.C. Boyle's short story "Greasy Lake" (which makes heavy use of contemporary allusions) in a mini-unit on how allusions in literature can be a path to a deeper understanding of/appreciation for whatever it is that we're reading.
The assignment asks that the students do 'quick and dirty' research on approximately 15 allusions in the story (Bruce Lee, Andre Gide, '57 Chevys & The Battle of Khe Sanh to name a few). Then, in multi-media documents, they explain how the allusions color the events and characters of the story.
Also included is a rubric to grade the project.