Research Paper: 8 pages in length. This paper will count for 30% if your grade. Late papers will be penalized 2/3 of a letter grade per day.

Research Paper: 8 pages in length. This paper will count for 30% if your grade. Late papers will be penalized 2/3 of a letter grade per day.

These papers will be analytical/research essays in which you explore one African American film from the pre-selected list in relation toits Type or Genre.  Your analysis should explore the film’s historical, socio-cultural, and industrial context, and may touch upon aspects of film style, studio style, auteur style, star persona, film genre, “independence” from Hollywood (or not), film technology, etc.


Please include at least 2-3 (outside of class) references throughout your paper, and engage with ideas from the class about the type or genre of Black film you have chosen. These essays are thus analytical essays that place the given film text within (at least some of) its various contexts. Your analysis should all be organized around a thesis of your own devising, which might be something as simple as “Film X is a good example of [Film Type Y] because it does/embodies these elements.”  Close textual reading of you chosen film will produce a better paper.

Papers will be uploaded to before or during Week 15, end date May 6.

Films: Choose one of the following options


1. “Race Films” ​​​Body and Soul (1925, dir. by Oscar Micheaux)2. “Blaxploitation” ​​Shaft (1971, dir. by Gordon Parks)3. “Black Queer Film” ​​Tongues Untied (1989, dir. by Marlon Riggs)4. “Black Auteurs” ​​Crooklyn (1994, dir. by Spike Lee)5. “Black Horror” ​​US (2019, dir. by Jordan Peele)6. “Black Women’s Film” ​Waiting to Exhale (1995, dir. by Forest Whitaker)

Caveats and Helpful Hints

This assignment is NOT about summarizing the story, NOR is it about describing the film in a shot by shot manner.  You should assume your reader is familiar with the film in question and any story synopsis should brief.


*​Make sure you have seen the film you are going to write about.  Consider watching it twice and taking notes on its form and style.

*​Make sure you understand the assignment. If you have any questions or doubts, contact the teaching assistants or the professor.

*​You may want to prepare an outline before you start to write.


*​Use one-inch margins on all sides of each page. DOUBLE SPACE your lines.

*​Underline, italicize or CAPITALIZE the titles of the films you discuss. Do not place them in quotation marks. Note that underlining the titles is the preferred method since it allows you to use italics for emphasis.

*​Number the pages in the top right corner, and place your last name on the word file.

*​An original title is not an absolute requirement. However, try to provide one if you can.

*​Put your name, the instructor’s name, the course title, and the date on the title page.


*​Do not use regionalisms, slang, or colloquial language (“kind of,” “sort of,” “like,” etc.)

*​Structure your sentences clearly and precisely. Any claim you make has to be supported with convincing evidence.

*​If a sentence becomes too long, split it into two before it gets out of control.

*​Avoid sentence fragments.  Every sentence needs a subject and a verb.

*​Do not overuse pronouns (he, she, they, etc.). When you do use pronouns, make sure it is clear to what or whom they refer.

*​Avoid repetition.  Don’t make the same point over and over.

*​Avoid contracted forms (use “it is” not “it’s,” “they are” not “they’re,” etc.).


*​Make sure your opening paragraph contains a specific and precisely formulated thesis that anticipates the main points of the argument of the essay.

*​Your paragraphs should reflect a logical development of the thesis.

*​Make sure your argument flows smoothly, with clear transitions between paragraphs and sentences.

*​Support general observations with concrete examples.


*​We are not interested in your personal opinions about the quality of the film you are analyzing.  Whether you enjoyed the film or not is irrelevant to the assignment. Try to be as objective as possible.