As outlined on the syllabus, this course is about analyzing films. When we start to look closer at the content of films, the context of their production/distribution/exhibition, and how viewers’ perceive them…we may start to see them in a new light. We may start to understand people and society better.
To this end, throughout the semester you have been reading about learning about the film industry, and how films have historically represented certain groups and issues. You have practiced analyzing films each week in concert with the other students in the class through discussion boards. Now you have a chance to do your own more in-depth analysis.
Option #1: Genre Paper (Fantasy Genre)
This paper is an analysis of a film genre or subgenre. (You will probably have an easier time writing the paper if you pick a subgenre because your topic will be more narrow.) You are required to watch and analyze 3 movies that are all part of onegenre. You are required to find literature on this topic. In your paper you need to outline the important claims made in the sources you read, clearly explain the results of your analysis, and contrast the two.
What is a genre? What am I analyzing these films for:
“Genre, a term notoriously difficult to pin down, refers to a type of film or other art object where instances of the type share similarities in form and style, theme and content, as well as communicative function. A film genre is thus based on a set of conventions that influence both the production of individual works within that genre and audience expectations and experiences. The concept of genre has been important since the beginning of the history of film, as a category for the industry and thus for the production, marketing, and distribution of films; for film critics and the academic, esthetic, historical, and theoretical analysis of film; and for audiences as a framework for the selection and experience of films…Rather than defining film genres as sharp, distinctive, and essential categories, modern genre theory tends to define genres as prototypes, and to see the establishing of genres as processes related to institution, text, and audience, and historical changes” (p. 5640-5641). [from I. Bondebjerg. 2001. “Film: Genres and Genre Theory.” From The Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Oxford: Elsevier Science. 8:5640-5646.]
In other words, films that belong to a particular genre share some characteristics. Genre is more than some theoretical concept with little practical value. Think about how you pick what movie to watch at the theater. Knowing what genre a movie belongs to (horror versus romantic comedy!) can help us figure out what movie we want sit down and watch.
Every film in a genre is not exactly the same. Further, audiences do not all interpret films exactly the same way. This makes sense if you think about how we commonly categorize data in the world. For example, take the category of “shirt.” Many pieces of clothing can be called a shirt but they are not all exactly the same. Every film that fits in a genre will not necessarily fit into it in exactly the same way. Therefore, this paper is your chance to explore what a genre is. You can watch the three films of your choosing, exploring what makes them similar and different. You can watch the films on your own first, trying to come up with your own defining characteristics of the genre. Or, you can read how scholars and popular critics conceive of the genre first, and then assess what ways the filmsyou watch fit into or diverge from these conceptions.
What to look for? As indicated above, what elements are used to conceptualize what makes up a genre vary, and include:
*Institutional, social, and cultural context
*Style (e.g. cinematography, editing, sound design)
*Stories and characters
Therefore, you can look at any of these elements in your paper(see America on Film for more information about these elements). Most likely you will examine stories and characters and style. Please see your other class texts for more information about genres. America on Film defines what genres are and their relevance. Dying to Belong provides an example of an analysis of a genre.
• Films: Watch 3 films at minimum. You can earn bonus points for watching and discussing more films in your paper.• Sources: Find, read, and cite 4 sources; at least three of these must be scholarly sources (peer-reviewed journal article or book (chapter) from a university press). The fourth source can be a scholarly source or a critics’ review. You can use the textbook or any additional sources in the paper for bonus points. A(Note that peer-reviewed research articles are just that: they are reviewed by others who are considered knowledgeable in the field. The quality of work is relatively more thorough and scientific than the review of a popular critic, and the readership is different. Reviews by popular critics and on blogs can help us get a better sense of what the general public is reading and/or how different viewers are interpreting the film (especially when a site allows the general public to comment on a review).) You can earn bonus points for citing more articles.• Length: Paper should be
words not counting references • Formatting: Use any readable font. You can double space or single space the paper. You do not need a title page.• Citation Style: Use any widely recognized style guide to cite your sources, but you must tell me what style you are using. Note what style you are using at the end of your references. Examples of widely recognized style guides are APA, MLA, ASA, and Chicago Manual of Style.• Audience: Write your paper as if your audience is the general public. This means you should expect the audience to have little knowledge of sociology and/or film, so explain any sociological or technical terms you use. Everyone should at some point in their paper define what a genre is. Also, do not assume the audience has watched the movies you are analyzing.• Organization: While I expect all the parts of your paper to flow together, I do not expect every paper to be organized in exactly the same way. Each paper must include an analysis of 3 movies. It must also include an overview of how the genre has been conceptualized by scholars. It must also somehow link the two. However, the way you organize this material in your paper is up to you. Don’t forget to give examples; for instance, to make claims/arguments about a film, reference examples from that film.