Depend on material. Depend on material. PAPER ASSIGNMENT #3 (and Extended Office Hours)
Posted on: Sunday, November 8, 2015 11:53:07 AM EST
Hi everyone, I’ve posted the full description of the assignment for Paper Three in the space below. Please read through the assignment sheet as fully as possible before we meet for lecture tomorrow afternoon–just so you can ask me or your TA any questions you have about it. Apart from that, have a good weekend and remember: we will have lecture tomorrow but will not meet for tutorials, so if you have questions about the reading or paper assignment make sure to consult the schedule of extended office hours that your TAs will be offering to make up for this missed time in the classroom–especially since the first round of extra office hours will be offered tomorrow morning.
All the best, Professor Sutherland
CIN 101: An Introduction to Cinema Studies
Paper Three Assignment Sheet: Analyzing Cinematic Worlds
Professor Meghan Sutherland
Due on Monday, 30 November (Week 12). Submit an electronic copy to turnitin.com no later than 12:00 PM (noon); no hard copy is required this time.
Turnitin.com Log-In Information: Class ID = 10788733 / Password = 1012015
Assignment Description: The final unit of this course explores two well-known methodological frameworks for the analysis of relationships between cinematic texts—namely, genre studies and auteur theory. For this paper you will adopt one of these two frameworks—or devise a topic of your own in consultation with either me or your TA—to analyze a film and/or television show.
More specifically, your task is to write a short essay geared toward one of the three essay prompts that follow this description and explanation of criteria. Whichever essay prompt you choose, though, your goal should be to continue practicing, refining, and expanding the skills you’ve built in the first two paper assignments for the course by adapting them to the analysis of one film or TV show in relation to a larger body of works (such as a larger genre or a body of works “created” by one “author”). However, this assignment will also require you to cite and briefly discuss an idea from at least one scholarly text that was not assigned for class, so make sure you read all of the assignment criteria in detail and let us know if you have questions.
General Assignment Criteria:
All papers should be 1000-1450 words in length, not including references and/or notes. Use standard margins, double-spacing and a 12-point font; omit large gaps or spacing from the text.
All papers should refer to at least one source of peer-reviewed scholarly research that was not assigned as part of course readings to support and/or explain the concepts, terms, or ideas it is exploring, so make sure to leave lots of time for research—and to get help with finding and citing scholarly sources in advance if you need it. Also make sure you use MLA or Chicago style correctly in order to cite this and any other sources appropriately.
All papers should focus on at least one stylistic element (such as mise-en-scene, sound, camera movement, or editing) and the latter’s relationship to one thematic or narrative element that indicates an ideological concern (such as the use of a character type, a certain social structure like marriage, or the narrative trope of the unresolved ending, etc).
All papers should present a clearly articulated thesis supported by the descriptive analysis of evidence from relevant film(s), TV shows, and readings, and should demonstrate a strong understanding of the terms and concepts it uses to advance its argument—in particular, the methodological framework on which it relies (e.g., genre studies, auteurism, ideological analysis, etc.).
Papers should not repeat a close formal analysis performed in class. If you want to discuss a scene or a topic we went over in lecture, make sure you bring your own original perspective to the details of the scene you analyze.
Essays will be evaluated according to the same criteria that informed previous assignments: the strength and creativity of the thesis; the organization and quality of supporting evidence and arguments; the quality of writing and citation style; and the demonstration of your understanding of relevant concepts and terms. This time the relevance and quality of your engagement with cited sources will also inform your grade too.
There are no requirements concerning which film, genre, or auteur you discuss. As long you pick something that allows you to respond to the spirit of the assignment, and meet the basic criteria for it, you can choose any film you want. So pick something that really interests you and provides lots of room for interpretation, even if you find it challenging; you’ll likely write a better paper.
Keep in mind that very close descriptive analysis of stylistic elements should still make up the bulk of the evidence that supports your thesis and argument, just as it did in previous assignments. Also keep in mind that the goal of this assignment is to help you develop a clear, compelling scholarly analysis of moving image media—rooted in evidence, critical interpretation, and examples drawn from both visual and written texts. To this end, you may want to review the general tips I’ve offered for ensuring the quality of these elements of the paper, and revisit feedback from previous work you’ve submitted.
The quality of your writing will also inform the grade you receive on this paper, so refer to the tips and resources provided in prior assignments for this element of the assignment as well. And most importantly, take time to copyedit and proofread your work for errors in grammar and spelling before submitting it.
Last but not least, remember to take interpretive risks and be creative; as long as you can explain how an example, quotation, or performance of stylistic analysis supports your claim, you are making a valid analytical argument.
Essay Prompts (Select One):
1. Choose one film and/or television “author” and watch at least three different shows or films that he or she has made. Then write an essay that analyzes the “author’s” distinctive use of one stylistic element (such as editing, mise-en-scene, sound, color, narrative structure etc.) and its relationship to one thematic concern that indicates an ideological problematic of special interest (for instance, the institution of marriage, the importance of individualism, collectivism, or the nature of gender roles) that recurs in two or more different works. Be sure to develop a larger thesis and supporting argument about the significance of these features for interpreting the films or shows themselves, as well as the central preoccupations of the “author’s” work in a broader sense. In the process, you should be able to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of auteur theory, as well as its critical uses and drawbacks (which we’ll discuss more in class). Also keep in mind that as long as you meet the criteria for the essay you can use this paper as a platform to argue that a figure other than the director per se should be considered the “author” of the works you discuss; just make sure you have the evidence for doing so. Refer to at least one unassigned scholarly source on either auteurism or on the work of the filmmaker/producer in question in order to enrich your argument.
2. Choose a film or television show that uses or revises a set of generic conventions (such as character types, iconography, stylistic gestures, or ideological problematics) in an intriguing way and familiarize yourself with the genre in question (through scholarship and/or screenings of major examples). Then write an essay analyzing how this particular use or revision of genre conventions allows the film or TV show to establish, affirm, challenge, or shift a set of hegemonic ideas about social reality—especially as they contribute to ideas about “typical” people, beliefs, social problems or ideals. Most simply put, this prompt asks you to analyze how at least one scene from a film or television show employs at least two generic conventions in order to critique, revise, or historicize a social problem or issue associated with the genre in question—with the stipulation that you must discuss at least one stylistic element (such as mise-en-scene, editing, sound, or narrative structure) and one thematic concern of the film or TV show (such as gender roles, the relationship between truth or fiction, or ideas of justice, the family, or good and evil). Along these lines, one could explore how a specific genre of film or television programming uses a “typical” set of plot lines, problems, or character types to establish a particular set of values and/or ideas as “typical” or “natural,” or alternatively, how a particular film either adapts or revises these same structures in order to critique, update, or transform the “typical” values and ideas at work in given genre. For instance, you could ask: How does the TV show Mad Men use the film noir genre to make a point about the relationship between gender roles, capitalism, or contemporary social values today and in 1950s America? How does the TV show The Office use documentary conventions to parody corporate culture? How does the film Far from Heaven use melodrama as a platform for contemporary social critique? You have lots of room for creative interpretations. But this is important: In order to help ground your argument in evidence, refer to at least one outside scholarly text on the genre you discuss.
3. Write a thesis-based essay that meets the basic criteria of this assignment—and deals with the sociopolitical valence of style and theme in one film or TV show—but does not respond to either of the other two prompts. Students who select this option are required to meet with me or their TAs by the end of Wednesday, November 18 to discuss a rough draft of their thesis statement and any research informing their proposed plans—just to ensure your plans are viable before it is too close to the due date for the assignment.
Additional Tips & Resources:
If you have questions about grammar, constructing a good thesis, or proper citation and reference styles, consult the style manual mentioned in the syllabus or the Purdue Owl website, which offers helpful tips on these matters and can be found at https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/. You can also consult the resources I mention in the syllabus: The UTM Visual Studies Grammar Workshops, which will appear under “My Organizations” on your Blackboard page, has online workshops and quizzes you can complete to improve your skills.
If you anticipate needing help from a writing specialist, book an appointment in the Academic Skills Centre as soon as possible and plan to start a draft of your paper early for the appointment. The same goes for meeting with your TA or me during office hours: we cannot offer substantive feedback on paper ideas or drafts by e-mail, so start working early to ensure that you have time to contact us, get the help you need, and use any feedback we give you at the meeting.
If you think you’ll need help from an ELL specialist or peer-tutor, make sure to get a flyer about the new ELL support resources available in the Annie Smith Centre.
Feel free to use metaphorical language and write with style. Also feel free to be creative and take risks more generally in the claims you make about the scene. As long as you provide persuasive evidence of your claim you have written a successful analytical essay.
Make sure you understand the university’s policy on Academic Honesty. Plagiarism will not be tolerated, so make sure you familiarize yourself with the information provided on this matter in the syllabus, and let your TA or me know about any questions you have on the subject.
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