Your first three assignments helped you develop some of the most fundamental skills of writing and critical reasoning: creating a strong thesis, developing an argument based on that thesis, achieving cueing, development, and resonance at both the paragraph and paper level, and effectively engaging with outside sources. For your fourth assignment you will be asked to further apply those skills to an analysis of the representation of professions and relevant social issues in a particular film or TV show. Because you will base your research of the social issues on the film or TV show of your choice (following my approval), this assignment encourages your appreciation for analyzing and integrating both textual and visual evidences.
Films and television have long provided a compelling glimpse into a society’s dominant views on particular social issues, many of which govern the working place and work ethics such as class, gender, and race relations, the distinction between professional and personal lives, immigration, inequality, legality, etc. From Charlie Chaplin’s silent classic Modern Times (1936), to the indie hit Clerks (1994) and the television series Mad Men, popular culture on screen has captured our changing relations to the work force. At the same time, these shows prove that what we do for a living are always more than simply remunerative activities as our working lives often set the standard of how we ought to behave in society. Overall, regardless of the intent of their creators, films and TV shows exist as cultural products, granting us a compelling (if not conclusive) glimpse into the attitudes and values that we associate with the professions.
Gocsik, Karen. “The Challenges of Writing About Film.” Darmouth College. 10 Oct. 2005. <www.dartmouth.edu/~writing/materials/student/humanities/film.shtml>
Goldberg, Michael. “Some Suggestions How to Read a Film.” 14 Sept. 2000. http://faculty.washington.edu/mlg/students/readafilm.htm
* * At least three independently researched sources, two of which must be academic, that analyze the film/TV show in question, the representation of the chosen social issue in film and TV, and predominant attitudes / norms regarding that social issue (that may or may not be related to the film/TV show). * *
1) Choose a film or TV show (see list of suggested films below; though you can also pick your own with my approval) 2) Choose one of the social issues portrayed in that film or TV show that is related to the represented profession 3) Research on the film / TV show in question, the representation of the chosen social issue in film and TV, and predominant attitudes / norms regarding that social issue. Then, in a 5-7 page, thesis-driven essay, respond to the following prompt:
How does your chosen film or TV show subvert or reinforce established norms related to the profession and the social issue in question?
If you choose a TV show rather than a film, naturally you are not expected to discuss every episode. Rather, try to discuss the show’s overall portrayal of the social issue in question, or if the portrayal is limited to one or two episodes, focus primarily on those episodes.
Avoid the plot summary / scene summary trap—while your audience needs to know the basics (if they’re not common knowledge), don’t fill the paper with lengthy and detailed plot summaries and scene descriptions. Remember also that this is not a movie / TV show review—the point isn’t necessarily whether your chosen film or TV show is “good,” but how it reinforces or subverts norms. Your argument about the film needs to be grounded in a detailed analysis of particular scenes and characters – things you may wish to discuss include plot, cinematic devices, characters’ actions, appearance, language use, body language, etc. Refer to Gocsik and Goldberg for more details.