- All papers written
outside of class are to be typed - 12pt type, one inch margins, double spaced,
stapled, no plastic binders, to be turned in by start of
class on the due
date, unless Prof. McBride explicitly states otherwise.
Make sure you meet
the minimum page requirement.
- Because you may be
working in groups or dealing with ideas from lectures
in your paper, you must be extremely careful to develop your
own unique and
insightful ideas and to give credit to every idea that is
not your own.
If you are caught plagiarizing, even if it is unintentional, you will receive an
"F" for the paper. If you
repeat any ideas brought up in lecture, use them only to advance your own
points, and then write the word “lecture” in parentheses. If you are writing a paper with another person, make sure
your paper makes its own unique points, and that you write the last name of your
cohort in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Always discuss sources you use in your paper, put quotation
marks around any words that are not your own, and provide page numbers or a full
web address and a works cited page. Consult
MLA documentation rules if you are uncertain.
- There are not necessarily right and wrong things to do in your
paper; some readings are stronger than others and some ways of
analyzing lead to better papers than others. The best arguments
are those that are well-supported with specific evidence accompanied by an
insightful discussion of that evidence.
- Grading will alternate. Whoever graded your first paper, either Chris McGee or Professor McBride, will grade your third paper. The
other person will grade your second and fourth paper.
All of the information below is advice, and is subject to change given
assignments; consequently, pay very close attention to
due dates and
requirements discussed in lecture. Frequently check the
web page for prompts
or information. Requirements
for these papers may be subject to alteration.
Also, while we will make every effort to discuss these assignments
thoroughly in class, it is your responsibility to be familiar with these
requirements, even if they are not specifically discussed by Prof. McBride
during lecture. Feel free to ask
any questions you may have when it is appropriate during class time, but PLEASE,
consult the guide below to see if the question has already been answered!
- 3-5 pgs. (May be in-class) 20 points
The first stylized moment
paper will be due February 15th in the first part
of the semester.
Professor McBride will choose a scene from a movie (the shower scene from
Psycho) we watch
in class and ask you to watch it repeatedly and attentively,
either by renting
your own version, watching it on the sixth floor of
Milner Library, or
watching the digitized version on the Web page. It
responsibility to locate this scene and study it.
Plan ahead for this
paper, as it becomes increasingly difficult to locate the scene the night
before, and there may be unexpected difficulties in downloading the digitized
version. This first paper will be
written in class, on Thursday, February 15th. On Tuesday, Prof. McBride will discuss Orson Welles'
That evening, however, we will watch Hitchcock’s Psycho,
which will provide you with yet another opportunity to view the scene.
By the Thursday of the exam, you must purchase a regular sized Blue Book,
available at either of the bookstores. Bring
this unmarked essay exam booklet to class on Thursday, as we will ask you to
exchange your Blue Books before you begin writing.
You may also bring a single page of notes, which will form the basis of
what you write, but you may not bring a completed essay.
Use this page of notes to remind yourself of essential stylized moments,
and perhaps some of the arguments you intend to make.
Prof. McBride’s Web page provides a concise prompt for the essay, which
you should consult.
of the scene will
consist of three parts:
1) Describe the scene in
film terms employing
the technical language of cinema - camera technique, mise en scene, lighting,
etc. Read Chapters 2 and 3 carefully in Gollin and
appropriately use as
many of these terms as you can, such as close-up,
etc. Remember to
discuss all aspects of the scene;
2) Discuss what meaning
these film techniques reasonably
confer via style. You may employ Gollin to support your
points. For example
"This scene is shot in a canted angle, meaning
that the camera is
off of its vertical axis giving us a slanted view of
the scene. Typically,
this angle implies `a world awry and out of plumb'
(Gollin 31)." Then go beyond this to provide your own unique and
keen insight to what
this means in the scene. For example "The canted
angle here tells us
that we cannot trust any of the characters."
3) Analyze this scene in
terms of the entire movie. Discuss both large themes
in the movie - coming of age, sexuality, evil, etc. - and
specific parts of the
movie - the opening, the climax, the ending - in
order to ground your
ideas in the movie itself. Make sure you discuss
the entire movie.
Your grade will be based
upon how accurately and consistently
you use film terms to analyze the scene, how thoroughly you
attend to every
aspect of the scene, how specifically your interpretation
follows from the film terms, and finally how insightful and
smart your overall
interpretation is. You may go point by point through
the scene and then
analyze the techniques in turn, or you may combine
parts 1 and 2 as you
write. Students often
feel overwhelmed that they cannot possibly ‘read’ all of the deep meanings
in the scene, but if you concentrate on analyzing specific stylistic techniques,
you will do well. We tend to be
more lenient on this first paper as we understand this is your first attempt at
analyzing style. You should be
creative and speculative, but be specific
and thoroughly prove your interpretations by discussing the
scene in film
Paper 2 - 3-5pgs. (25
The second stylized
moment paper will be due sometime before spring
break (March 8th). This
paper is exactly like the first paper, except that you
stylized moment to analyze. You are encouraged to use the films we
have watched, or will
watch (if you find yourself repeating many of the points raised in lecture you
may wish to write about a film yet discussed in class,) although you can also
use any movie of your choice.
The only exception is
that you cannot write on Caddyshack. You must clear a decision to write on a non-syllabus film with the
person who is grading your
paper. Do not
write the paper and assume we will accept it.
Your paper must discuss something that we have seen, or would be willing
to see if we have the opportunity. It is important that we have seen the film you have chosen.
If time permits, you
may bring a videotape or DVD to class to show the appropriate one of us
the scene, but make sure it is at a convenient time.
Consider using a
movie you own, have
guaranteed access to, or one that you know very well, as you will be able to
discuss the film in detail. Watch the movie several times
and look for moments/scenes that use the camera in significant ways, or
for things that can only
been done in a movie rather than say a play or novel of the same story.
Pay attention to any
moment that sticks out, that breaks the illusion that you are watching a film.
Look for moments in the film that use style to make a point or develop a
theme. Ask yourself why the film
chose to use that type of technique.
Keep in mind the
difference between plot significance ("This is when we
find out Darth Vader
is Luke's father") and stylistic significance
uses a canted angle and quick editing to convey Luke's feelings. Darth is filmed
from below to show his stature"). Most casual viewers
can talk about plot,
but a film student will attend to style,
and that should
be your field of inquiry. Some
casual viewers might even be able to talk about what a film is saying ‘beneath
the surface’ or what the director was ‘trying to say,’ but keep in mind
that we are also teaching you oppositional and critical reading strategies in
this course. You should, in other
words, not exclusively worry about what the director was saying, but rather be
open to issues and concerns that are on the screen nevertheless.
Also, keep in mind the
difference between a shot that
is just filmed "cool" (i.e. the fight scenes in The
shots that are neat to look at, but don’t really have anything substantive to
scenes that use style
to convey an explicit meaning (the use of P.O.V.
shots in HalloweeN
to encourage you to identify with certain characters). It is
much more productive
to analyze the second kind of cinematic moment than the first.
Try to locate a scene
that is about 1 to 3 minutes long so that you will
have enough data to analyze, but that is manageable enough, allowing you to
remain on topic.
Students who do poorly on
this paper often ‘list’ shots, such as several cuts in a row, but never say
anything about why those techniques were employed in the film.
Avoid listing shots, and instead have patience.
Spend time discussing what every choice confers in the sequence, and what
it contributes the film as a whole.
- 3-5pgs. (20 points)
The third paper is
typically due after spring break (April 10th), near the end of the
semester. This paper
asks you to analyze John Berger's Ways of Seeing.
book is short and has lots of pictures, it is also difficult and dense.
Often Berger develops a complicated idea in a single sentence.
The syllabus for the course stipulates that you should read this book
over a series of weeks, and we recommend that you do so.
Although you may not understand all of Berger’s points, we expect that
you will read the book slowly and closely and that you will think how his ideas
relate to how each of us views cinema.
important that you closely read the book and ultimately demonstrate a keen
understanding of the
entire book. You
cannot possibly fulfill this assignment satisfactorily unless you demonstrate in
your paper that you have thought about the book as a whole.
Those students who have done well on this paper typically discuss
examples that Berger himself uses, and use those examples to say something
insightful about concerns in this particular class.
In other words, use aspects of the book to concisely demonstrate your
understanding of his ideas, and how those ideas can be imported into this
This assignment has four
requirements that you should follow in order:
1) Consider what
part of the book, having specifically to do with the visual, that you
felt you understood
really well or what part seemed particularly interesting, controversial, or
you. You might also
look for a section that seems particularly relevant to a film that we are
watching. Choose one or
more of Berger's sentences that conveys the overall idea
of the section, or a
sentence(s) that you feel warrants some discussion.
You may choose one
sentence, or several, but you must be careful to
limit what you are
analyzing so that you can discuss it in detail.
the top of the paper
rewrite this sentence or sentences word for word
with quotation marks
and a page number in parentheses. Your
paper MUST start in this way. Pick a sentence
that is specific
rather than very general.
"Men act and women appear"
or "Advertising uses sexuality to sell products" or, worse yet,
“The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe” (8), as
these generally lead to the worst papers for they are far too
generalized statements which are jumping off points for Berger, typically allow
students to talk about things entirely unrelated to Berger’s book.
Remember this as a good rule: anything
you could say in your paper that you could have said without reading Berger is
not a good approach to the paper. We
are concerned with your reactions to the things Berger taught you.
Consider finding sections that talk about specific art pieces or media,
although you are not restricted to these.
and paraphrase Berger's sentence or sentences in your own
words. A typical way
to start is, "In this part of the book, Berger is
saying . . ." or
something like that. Make sure you discuss all of the
parts of the quote,
and perhaps some of the surrounding ideas that have
led up to this one,
but make sure it is clear that your paraphrase follows reasonably from the
sentence you have chosen. Strong
papers often use some of Berger’s specific examples to demonstrate the
paraphrase. It should be clear that
your paraphrase deals directly with the quote you have chosen, and it should
also be clear that your paraphrase reveals something about the quote.
3) Illustrate the quote
by taking it out of
the context of the book and applying it to at least one aspect of at least one
film from the syllabus. Discuss the illustration in detail, as
carefully as you have been discussing a scene from a movie.
Clearly demonstrate how Berger's
ideas relate to the example and how Berger provides a unique
interpretive lens for
discussing the illustration. Remember
to discuss actual moments from the movie; describe particular moments that
demonstrate your point.
4) Put the sentence
back into the context
of the book by discussing the relation of this specific
idea to the entire book, again paying careful attention to the
this section of the paper you should discuss the entire book.
Be concise, but specific enough to show that you can talk about how
aspects of the book fit together.
Talk about the complicated ideas regarding ways of seeing
the book discusses. Relate
specific media, such as oil painting or advertising, to general
ideas about seeing.
Analyze the book by discussing why you agree with
his points, or why
you don't find them to still be true, or points you
felt Berger missed,
or what they have to do with movies, or new ideas the
book made you think
of. This paper, perhaps more than any other paper
in the class, asks
you to be creative and analytical, while also demanding a discussion in great
depth about Berger's
The restrictions and
recommendations above should help you avoid the weaker papers that we have seen
in the past. Ultimately, your goal
is to discuss your response and reaction to Berger’s book in the 4-part format
we have outlined here.
- 4-7pgs (25 points)
Your final paper is due
the last Thursday of class (May 3rd); there will be no
final exam other than
turning in this final paper. Note that this paper IS NOT due during Finals week, but
rather the last class meeting. We do not meet during Finals Week--this final
paper is your Final Exam. It is important for you
to attend this last meeting and turn your paper in on time so that
you can fill out
course evaluations. Only one paper per student will be accepted, that is, you
can't blow off class and have a friend hand in your paper.
This paper is exactly
like your second paper, except that you are asked to write a longer
and more detailed analysis, and that you are required to include a
literary component to your paper in order to address the "Literature" part of the
course's title as Professor McBride has been attempting all semester.
Choose a stylized moment or moments from a film in the
class, or a film of
your own choice (if so, clear your decision with the
person grading your
paper) and analyze the scene, using film language,
with respect to the
entire movie. Use a literary component as additional
support for your argument; this is not a book report, you
should use the book
to analyze the movie. You can use the novel or play that accompanies one of the films we
have watched in the class (in that case it would most likely be one of the
assigned novels), or you can use a different novel with one of the films in
class, or you can use a different novel and a different film than those included
in the syllabus (you would need to get such a thing approved, of course).
You can even connect a literary component (say Catcher
in the Rye) with a film that does not accompany it (say American
Beauty). In that case you
might discuss how, say, the theme of disillusionment that we find in Catcher
in the Rye appears stylistically in American
We are asking you to
analyze a stylized sequence, just as you did with the shower scene in Psycho,
and then to discuss an aspect of your chosen literary component to help you with
the final part of the paper, the final analyzing of what it means.
You may choose the novel,
play or short story that corresponds
to your movie, or you may choose any literary work as a
point of analysis.
You may compare and contrast the moments in both
the movie and the book, or you may use the book as a source of
ideas for talking
about the movie. If you do the first, carefully
explain what is
significant about the differences (don't just point out
how the book is
different and leave it at that; what does this tell us
about the meaning of
the movie?). If you do the second, you can use the
book in any way you
see fit, discussing characterization, mood, tone,
interpretations. One could talk about the theme of innocence
lost as it is
portrayed in Catcher in the Rye, or even Alice in
Wonderland, and then analyze a scene in Taxi Driver looking at
how the camera portrays innocence. Be specific, prove your points with film
language, and demonstrate that you have learned something from the
course. We will of
course grade this paper more rigorously than the others as we will expect that
you have become proficient at analyzing style by this point.
Feel free to contact Chris McGee (firstname.lastname@example.org 438-2718) or Professor McBride (email@example.com 438-7998) any time via e-mail, office phone, or during office hours (T&R 1-2p) with any concerns about the assignments, as well as any concerns with attendance (McGee only).