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ENG 2300 Spring 2006 Assignments
Film Analysis: Through the Eyes of a Child

Major Assignments

All assignments must be completed and submitted at the beginning of the class period on the due date assigned and in the assigned format. Each assignment will have specific features; however, essay assignments must be typed in Times New Roman and double-spaced on white 8 1/2" x 11" paper with one-inch margins on all sides. Essays that do not fit the required format will automatically be considered late and be deducted one letter grade. You will turn in BOTH a hard copy and an electronic copy. The hard copy will be taken up at the beginning of class and the electronic copy should be emailed to me before the class period the assignment is due.

These assignments are due in class and in my inbox, at the beginning of class, on the dates indicated. Your assignment grade will be dropped by one full letter grade for every day it is late. Also, there will be additional assignments and materials not indicated on this sheet (all changes will be posted on our class schedule on my webpage), and both this schedule and individual assignments are subject to change AND WILL CHANGE.

Some assignments are individual, while others are group based. If the group assignment is late, everyone in the group is penalized. However, it is not an absolute that everyone in the group receives the same grade. I will conduct both self and group peer evaluations as a means of monitoring the work load balance within the groups.

If you are going to be absent on the day that an assignment is due, email the assignment to me BEFORE our class period and it will not be considered late.

Professionalism, Participation, Attendance 10%

You are expected to regularly attend class and vigorously take part in class discussions. You should be prepared with questions and comments for every lesson, engage the materials that we cover, and actively employ critical thinking skills. Thus, while our "feelings" and personal responses to a text or rhetorical suggestion are a useful place to begin a discussion, you will be expected to go beyond these sorts of "gut reactions" and like/dislike responses. In other words, you will not only be expected to converse about the primary and secondary texts, but to test (via class participation) your critical thinking and interpretive skills. You must also take part in peer review workshops, in-class assignments, and various other group activities. Failure to regularly participate in class discussions, as well as missing any workshop or group project day, will negatively affect your participation grade.

NOTE: Screenings are REQUIRED! I will be taking role and you are expected to attend and take notes throughout the screenings.

Three Outside Viewing Reports 10%

Critical Dates
• Outside Viewing Report 1
• Outside Viewing Report 2
• Outside Viewing Report 3

Please note that there will be NO Peer Review Analysis accompanying these Reports. The 1st draft IS the final draft. There will be no rewrites.

Assignment Format
• Standard 81/2”x11” white paper with 1” margins on all sides
• Double spaced
• Typed in black ink, Times New Roman, size 12 font
• MLA style with your name, the course title and section number, my name, date in the top left hand corner. Put the location of screening, date of screening and the movie title at the bottom of the your last page. The title of the report (something more interesting than “A Report on Chicken Little”) should be in the center of the page. The heading and title should NOT be repeated on subsequent pages.
• Page numbers with your last name in the upper right-hand corner of all subsequent pages
• Stapled in upper left-hand corner

You will also turn in an electronic copy via email attachment in either .doc or .rtf. These should be emailed to me at before the class period that the assignment is due.

Assignment Description and Specifications
• At least 2 FULL pages (which means at least one word on the 3rd page along with the location of the screening, date of screening, and the movie title at the bottom of the final page. There is a 4 page maximum limit.
• A ticket stub, program, or some other indication that you did indeed see the movie stapled to the front.

To expand your film viewing experience, you will be expected to view at least 3 theatrical-release films (or, in the case of the CMC and some film festivals, a movie that isn’t readily available to the public) outside of class and in a variety of venues. You must watch at least 1 film at the Hippodrome, a film festival, the Harn, or other "alternative" viewing space (such as the CMC) and 2 films at standard cineplexes. For each film you should submit a report briefly describing the film and your response to it and making connections to class readings and screenings. You may also choose to illuminate how your viewing experience was influenced by the space in which you screened the film.

Plot summary should be limited to no more than a short paragraph. Instead of copious amounts of summary, you should attempt to analyze one or two key aspects of the film in terms of what you have learned in this class and how they work to define your overall response to the movie. Because these reports are intended to measure your experiences, I will expect your responses to become more sophisticated as the class progresses and your knowledge of film form and criticism increases. Thus, you should be able to cover the following topics by the report indicated:
1. Issues of audience and viewing space, narrative discourse, development, narration, and mise-en-scene
2. Cinematography, editing, a bit of film history, the star phenomenon, notions of counter-cinema and auteurism
3. A more comprehensive notion of film history, genre, ideological critique, and theoretical frameworks

Of course, you are by no means expected to cover all of these topics in a short 2-page report; just try to incorporate one or two formal and/or critical concepts in each paper. You are very much encouraged to express your personal response to the film; nonetheless, your opinion should be thoroughly supported by what you have learned in this class.

Grading Criteria
• Clearly articulates the viewer’s response to the film
• Demonstrates a knowledge of course material and how the film can be illuminated by the concepts, theoretical gestures, and formal issues covered
• Displays familiarity with whole film through an analysis of a few key aspects
• Utilizes concrete examples from the film in order to support the chosen aspects
• Limits plot summary
• Exhibits an engaging and professional voice
• Correct grammar and word usage

Reading and Viewing Journal and Blog10%

In a separate notebook designated only for this class, you will keep a journal over the course of the semester, to be turned in twice (around the semester mid-point and near the end of the semester), in which you respond to the class readings and films. You may keep this journal electronically through either the main class wiki, or on your group wiki. All of the films we view in our screening period must be discussed, and you need to refer to at least one class reading per week. Relevant comments from class discussion may also be incorporated, and illustrations are also welcome (such as sketches that might help you to think about a visual idea under discussion), if you find these helpful. Entries might be organized in many different ways: by date written, film title, more general heading, etc. How regularly you write in this journal is up to you (I’ll only see it twice), although I would say at least once a week will probably help you to keep a handle on it, and such regularity will also help to make it a more useful space for you to work out ideas. The easiest way to use this journal is to keep it with your class texts and write notes as you do the class reading and then bring it to screenings and take notes either while viewing the films or directly after watching them. Consider this a workbook of cinema (This is, in fact, the literal translation of the title of the New Wave journal, Cahiers du Cinema), a space within which you can think about ideas, argue with the readings, synthesize critical texts and films, and begin processing the material you will work through more formally in your papers.

I may call on you to read selections from them to the class from time to time to facilitate discussion. Consequently, you should avoid writing "filler" or "b-s" just to meet the minimum writing requirements, AND you should bring your journal to class every day.

As part of your journaling grade you will also be required to post responses to our blog throughout the semester. As in classroom discussions, messages on the blog should be thoughtful, but these will not be graded on grammar or mechanics. The blog should act as an informal space in which students can expand on points made in class, discuss films, and generally think through any filmic issues. Be aware that the blog is on the internet and is not password protected. While it is not a public blog and only linked from my webpage, it is still on the internet. You may include items from your journal in the blog. The blog post will be due each Sunday by midnight.

Formal Scene Analysis Essay 10%

Choose a scene or sequence from a film of your choice (which you will post to the wiki and have approved) and do an analysis and interpretation of it. How does the scene utilize mise-en-scene, cinematography, and editing? Why is this scene important to the film as a whole? In this paper you are moving from the details of the scene to the film as a whole, taking one part of the film as representative of its entire aesthetic or thematic meaning or perhaps in opposition to what you see as the film’s meaning. If a film is indeed, as we have posited, a powerful form of argument, how do the formal considerations enhance or perhaps undercut the argument you think the film is making? You will need to use detailed support for your argument and fully explain why the specific elements in the scene are significant. You will use at least one of the class reading selections to support your analysis. The essay should be 3-4 pages.

In-class Discussion Pairs 10%

Pairs will be responsible for leading one discussion presentations of 20-30 minutes on the readings assigned for that day (this will begin the second week and continue throughout the semester; pairs will sign up on the wiki). Your panel must pre-read the assignments they are presenting; I will meet briefly with the groups prior to presenting, to answer questions and provide assistance. Each panelist will receive an individual grade for his/her part of the presentation, so everyone must have a chance to speak (how you coordinate or divide up the material is up to you).

However, this is not a formal presentation, this is a chance to lead discussion. You should not dominate the conversation, instead your pair should facilitate discussion. Notes, overheads, charts, visuals, etc., are welcome, but do not just read an essay. Experiment -- the purpose of the presentations is to clarify class readings and discuss them. Assume that the class has done their homework and read the material; therefore, rather than regurgitating the material, panelists should think of how they can play with the ideas discussed and perhaps expand on them (think, not of re-presenting the material, but representing it). Don't be afraid of games, exercises, and humor. Incorporate relevant films or clips when necessary. Try not to be too repetitious -- coordinate the materials with your group. Finally, don't be afraid of pointing out confusing parts of the text(s): if something's confusing or unclear to you, chances are it is to the rest of the class, too. Use this as a starting point for useful exploration and discussion.

This is also a time to get to know other people in the class, their work habits and styles, and their thinking about the readings before your final group project.

You are welcome to use your group wiki with the discussion:

Auteur presentation 15%

Who is the director? What do they bring to the film? This presentation asks you to consider the concept of auteurism that we've been discussing in the most recent unit of the course. For this assignment you will closely examine the work of a director of your choice, which you will sign up for on the class wiki. Sign up early because two students can not have the same director. You will present your director to the class with a handout and clips. These presentations should be 10-15 minutes in length and give the class an overview of your director. In this way the class will be exposed to more movies and directors then possible in our screening times. In addition to your presentation, you will post a discussion of at least three films from the director, address specific scenes within those films, and a works cited page on the class wiki. This will create a database of directors. Pay close attention to mise-en-scene, cinematography, music, etc., to support your argument about your auteur. Does your director constitute an auteur? Why or why not? Again, pay close attention to various technical elements to support your position. Be sure to quote from readings and give examples from the films to support your argument.

Our class reading Citizen Bickle,or the Allusive Taxi Driver: Uses of Intertextuality by John Thurman in Senses of Cinema makes a persuassive case for auteurism summed up in the final two sentences of the article: "Scorsese, for his part, by his conscious use of intertextuality, underscores the validity of the concept of authorship, and the importance of authorial intentions. Contrary to one Frenchman's notion, the “auteur” is not dead." You can use this article as an example for singular case of auteurism through intertextuality.

Theory and Ideology Critique 15%

Film Pick: sign up on Wiki
Peer Review Workshop and Rough Draft
Peer Analysis
Final Draft

Two choices
a) Combining what you have learned from formal analysis, historical movements and genres, and theoretical frameworks, develop an in-depth analysis of one film of your choice (preferably that deals with children or childhood in some respect, but that is negotiable). What kind of critical practice have you developed so far? How can you use what you have learned to write about a particular film and to formulate a theoretical approach? Focusing on a detail, incident, character, scene, shot, or directorial signature from the film, examine formal, institutional, and ideological questions relating to the film's historical context, the conditions under which it was made, general questions about audience and reception, and how all of these elements interrelate. Use this essay to raise ideological questions about both film and film analysis. You may make an argument about the propagation of cultural ideologies in a film, investigate the critical implications of the particular kind pleasure we receive from a film, or utilize a particular theoretical approach to help you discern "meaning" from a filmic text.
b) Students who choose may consult with me concerning web and "creative" options in lieu of a standard essay; however, these alternatives must consist of an equivalent amount of work to a 5-6 page research paper. I highly encourage students to consider this option. This could include such creative works as making your own short traditional film, creating a film using the video game The Movies, creating a webpage, or whatever creative aspect you come up with.

Sample Creative Web Project By Bobby Eagle

Regardless of form, you will use at least 2 sources from our class texts and 2 outside sources.

Historical Movements and Genres Group Project 20%

Critical Dates
• Historical Movement or Genre pick (this is 1st come-first serve posted to the class wiki)
• Group topic proposal
• Peer Review and In-Class Preparation
• Peer Review Analysis
• Final Drafts with Handouts and Presentations

Note: The final project will be due on the last day of class, not on the day that you present.

Assignment Format (for the Group Project)
Each group will be assigned a wiki for their group project. The project can be written as a linear paper, or it can use more of a webpage design with the wiki.

Assignment Description and Specifications
• A group topic proposal in which the group briefly outlines its proposed thesis, the films it will be examining, and the individual assignments.
• Each group member will write 3-5 pages concerning her/his specific section of the group paper, which should total 10-15 pages. This does not include the cover page, works cited pages, or plot segmentations.
• Each individual section must include at least two different sources that are correctly cited and that directly support your thesis. One of these must be selected from your Film Theory and Criticism book, and one must come from some reputable outside source (ex. Scholarly film journal—i.e. NOT Entertainment Weekly—book of scholarly criticism on your film, director, movement, historical period, or theorist you are working with). Film Art DOES NOT count as one of your sources, but you may cite it.
• Each section must include a separate works cited page with correct MLA citation.
• Plot segmentations of the two films covered in the project—this should be done as a group
• A group handout (with enough copies for everyone in class) that gives a clear timeline of the major moments in the historical movement or genre, the political, theoretical, and ideological influences, and the group argument concerning the two films and how they are related to their contemporary movement or genre and each other.
• A group presentation in which EVERY MEMBER participates equally. This presentation should be creative in nature, include clips, some sort of class interaction, and take roughly 30 minutes.
• Finally, each group project must include a self and peer evaluation.

Group Work and the Paper
For this assignment, you will have a chance to experience a collaborative learning and research process that evokes the collective work that is cinema. Focusing on one particular historical movement or genre, as part of a group you will conduct research into its history, theoretical foundations, stylistic techniques, and narrative, formal, and generic characteristics. In particular, your group paper will briefly address a historical movement or genre and compare and/or contrast two films, emphasizing how they relate to that movement or genre. The paper should be divided into 4 major parts with 2 members in charge of sections 2 and 3, and 1 member taking up sections 1 and 4; in other words, 1 person will be responsible for the introduction and conclusion, and 2 people will flesh out the evidential body. The 4 sections should be roughly divided into:
1. Establish the historical movement or genre and its main tendencies, with an introduction of the two films to be analyzed and the group's thesis concerning the relationship between the films and the particular movement or genre. This part of the paper should introduce the group's argument and situate it historically. (2-3 pages).
2. and 3. Analyze how the two films relate to the historical movement or genre introduced in section 1. These two sections should focus on how the films adhere to or depart from an historical mode and what those adherences or departures might suggest for the significance of your films or the movement as a whole, OR the convergent or divergent aspects of the genre that are represented through the two films and what these similarities and differences signify. These sections should consider the possible material and ideological influences of the historical period and context that inform the films as well as various theoretical arguments about the nature and purposes of film. Of course, these sections should clearly relate back to the thesis introduced in section 1 and have a topic sentence that acts as a mini-thesis for the section. These two sections can be organized according to the contrasting films, particular stylistic elements, theoretical trajectories, etc. (3-5 pages each).
4. A conclusion that ties all of these concepts together (1-2 pages)

Your group will find that examining a few key sequences in relation to their overall structure and meaning rather than attempting to explain everything about the films will best serve your argument. Do not attempt to cover every possible meaning and element of the films. Instead, strive to focus on what you feel are several of the most significant elements and fully develop them in relation to the larger movement or genre. In doing so, your group should construct a strong argument for what you feel are the functions, effects, and meanings of these significant filmic elements within your films and within the movement or genre as a whole. What is the nature of the difference within the films? Is it merely stylistic? Does it indicate an historical shift? Ideological shift? Etc.

Your group should take 30-40 minutes to teach the class, in a creative and engaging way, about what you have learned throughout your research. You should show clips (limit these to 10-12 minutes), have a handout, and provide an interactive presentation that gets the class interested in the historical movement/genre and films you are showing. Each member should participate and NO ONE should read the paper. You are teaching the class, and the presentation should reflect your knowledge of the subject at hand.

Your final project is not due on the day you present, but on the last day of class.

Grading Criteria

• A clear and powerful thesis statement (or “topic sentences”)
• Adequate evidence that clearly supports your thesis and includes concrete details/OR, if you are doing the introduction and conclusion, clearly establishes the historical framework in a critical context and supports this with concrete details
• Direct quotation from at least 2 sources that support your thesis and are well incorporated into your argument
• Avoids lengthy and unnecessary plot summary
• A professional and engaging voice and tone
• Correct grammar, mechanics, and word usage
• Adequate organization, depth, creativity, and clarity of argument
• Evidence of extensive revisions and improvement from rough draft

• Presentation is creative, engaging, and thoroughly covers the points in your group argument
• A good use of clips—uses them economically
• Each member contributes equally
• Class handout is detailed and useful to class members

Possible Historical Movements and Genres
*Film Noir
*Postwar Era Avant Garde
*French Impressionism
*Solviet Expressionism
*Italian Neorealism
*Silent Comedies
*Socialist Realism
*Hong Kong Action
*Screwball Comedy
*Iranian New Wave

**Note: GreenCine has an excellent series of “Movie Primers” that might help you in your research and selection choices: