Final writing assignment

This longer paper is a close analysis of how  a certain technique, film device, theoretical idea, or conceptual scheme is deployed in film in order to present a theme or drive home a point. You need to choose 1 critical technique or scheme, discuss and explain it using secondary literature (appropriately cited). Be sure that you define the term carefully. You may want to say something about how the term came into being, who used it first and in what context, and how and when it was first applied to film criticism. Then you should explore how it is used in one or several films we viewed, finally making an argument about the message of the films you selected.

To find your technique or scheme that you are going to investigate, you can consult the list of key terms, figures, and ideas on the blog. The ones in the top half marked with an asterisk are ones you could use. I’ve also started a list of further terms below a section break on that page. These lists are hardly exhaustive. You are welcome to choose something else, but I suggest if you do you run it past me first.  You need to know that your idea here has to be a kind of concept that can be defined and expressed in theoretical terms. You have to be able to find  some secondary literature on the topic. In other words, it can’t just be “loyalty” or “honor,” without further analysis of what these terms mean. (But if you were able to find an interesting theoretical discussion somewhere on what “loyalty” is, then it might work.)

To investigate your key idea further, I suggest you may want to consult the book Film Art (by Bordwell) for some ideas on film technique (on reserve at the library). Note, you are required to use secondary literature. I suggest consulting the databases Project Muse and JSTOR.

Let me give you an example of how you might go about this paper.  Better, look at the blog post by one of your colleagues, Emily Darst, on Metatheater. Note how she uses some secondary literature on the topic, citing Lionel Abel (but be sure you give an actual citation of where he says this…). She then explores how it is used in Inglourious Basterds.  There is a third step I want you to do on this paper too that Emily doesn’t do here (which is fine, since her post was just a blog entry): what is the bigger point the film is trying to make by engaging with this concept? Emily could have argued something about how Tarantino trying to say something about the role film plays in constructing history and in making moral determinations about the past. Is Tarantino saying something about our penchant to enjoy the violence we see on screen, especially if it is directed at those whom we think deserve it?

BASIC REQUIREMENTS: about 2500 words, double-spaced. You do not have to incorporate image in this one, but can if it is useful for your argument. If you are discussing a particular film technique, it would be very valuable if you incorporated images that illustrated it. If you do use images, cite them the same way you did on the first paper, with time-stamps.

GRADING: See writing assignment 1 post (point 4). I will accept a written prospectus (1 page max) that outlines your argument for extra credit on this paper, provided you meet with me for a few minutes to discuss it.



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