Examine a film made between 1963 and 1979
Examine a film made between 1963 and 1979. One online site makes this comment about the external forces that had an effect on films of this period:
As [Norman] Mailer implies in The American Dream, after the trauma of the assassination [of JFK] the “dream” turns to a vision of violence and murder. At the end of the ‘60s and in the early ‘70s, American society was being shaken by riots in the black ghettos, the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the growing opposition to the Vietnam War, higher crime and unemployment rates, Watergate and increasingly vociferous demonstrations of counter-culture discontent. . . . The early ‘70s saw bitter confrontations between Government and unions, the collapse of the boom in the stock market and the property market, rising unemployment and inflation.
In the midst of these conditions sexual, feminist, Civil Rights, gay, and Native American revolutions occurred, along with a massive anti-war movement. Keep in mind some of these conditions evolved starting in the ‘70s, so not all apply equally to all films. Locate the film you choose in its social environment. Explain its politics. Is it a critique of the establishment? Of American history? Of US policy? Of traditional morality? Is it a backlash against the protests of the period? Note that some films may express ambiguity on their issues. Films which we discussed in class which lend themselves to this question include Little Big Man, Medium Cool, The Graduate, Dr. Strangelove, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Midnight Cowboy, In the Heat of the Night, and Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice. Use at least two sources which in a meaningful and relevant way contribute to the quality of your argument.
Keep in mind you need a sense of the historical moment, which is supplied in class, to understand the ways in which a particular film interacts with its era. Use MLA conventions for citing sources.
An A work is excellent or close to excellent in all respects. It shows a depth of inquiry, formal command, and solid evidential support. It is sound in its mechanics. A B work is strong in most respects. At the least it must be well organized and sufficiently supported. A C work must at least contain all elements of the criteria. It may suffer from a degree of impreciseness in its presentation. Or it may suffer from formal problems. A D paper or speech definitely suffers from some lack: in precision; thesis definition; the quality or lack of evidence, the appropriateness of evidence. It may be plagued by mechanical errors. F works may be off topic, may use evidence which fails to connect to the central argument, may suffer from insufficient development, or may suffer from a surfeit of mechanical errors. Both D and F efforts may suffer from combinations of the problems listed here. Plagiarized work will receive an F.
Checklist for Writing a Research Essay
1. Know the text you are analyzing
a. Do a close reading/analysis of the text (whether essay, film, or book)
b. Understand the internal unity
c. Identify any problems with unity
d. Know what the individual parts are doing in the larger text
e. Understand images, title, metaphors, use of sound, (etc.), all parts of the text
f. What are the rhetorical features of the text? Visual, written, aural [pertaining to sound]?
2. Understand the historical period of the work’s creation
a. What are the dominant trends of the period?
b. What is the relationship between traditional thinking and emerging ideology?
c. Where does your text fit into the period?
d. Who is dominant in the period?
3. What ideas are foregrounded in the text you are analyzing?
a. How are the ideas presented?
b. As attractive?
4. What is the ideology of the text?
a. To what special interests is the text connected?
5. Does the text leave lingering questions?
a. Is it possible to answer those questions by looking outside the text to its ideological environment?
b. Is the text in tension with its environment?
c. Do the questions exist because of the text’s ideas or is there just a problem in the composition of the text?
d. Are any facts disputed? Who disputes them?
6. Determine what questions about your text lead to a significant thesis
a. Avoid a “straw man” thesis (meaning avoid the overly obvious)
b. Consider your thesis in connection to the text’s time period
c. Make sure you have taken a position
7. Does the text have an overt message?
a. Determine your view in comparison with that of the text
b. Decide why you agree or disagree with the text
c. Locate evidence in the text to support your view
8. What ethical issues are at stake?
a. What consequence follow from someone being ignorant of your argument?
9. Evaluate other accounts of your text
b. Critical articles
10. Evaluate accounts of the time period (essays, newspaper articles, documentaries)
11. Determine the best evidence choices for your essay
a. Evidence may come from the time period (primary evidence)
b. It may be critical account of your text or the period (secondary evidence)
12. Think about the placement of your evidence in your essay to maximize effectiveness
13. Consider how to achieve internal unity in your essay
14. Chose a meaningful title for the essay
15. Be aware of MLA formatting for paper appearance and research conventions for citing sources
16. Review your punctuation and spelling