English Composition


This time, analysis of the subject will be a bit complex, even if the subject does prove to be only a cheesy dinosaur movie. Our readings will involve various disciplines--including scientific, political, and ethical perspectives. You will be expected to sharpen your skills in reading and in making your own connections between abstract theory and expression of cultural attitudes (in film). I will show video clips in class and we will practice applying the perspectives to help explain the workings beneath the surface of the filmic examples. Then we will watch a film in its entirety and you will find your own connections and write about one of them.

The Assignment: Your job is to watch the film shown two consecutive days in class and, armed with your textual tools, to analyze the film politically, drawing carefully from the articles for quotation, paraphrase, or summary of ideas in order to illuminate your points about cultural attitudes. Consider the role of a traditional Western cultural attitude in its interaction with all else it encounters.

When watching the film, be prepared to take notes and jot down any quotations that seem even remotely relevant for use in the essay, even if you're not sure how they'll come into play. When writing up your analysis, select one specific angle. Don't try to tackle too much, or you will end up with pockets of generalizations, and don't summarize the film at length. In writing up your interpretation, go for precision and depth, not just "coverage" of film and articles. Illustrate points you want to make with quotation from the film and articles, and give readers just enough explanation of the context as is necessary.

Reading List: The following articles and excerpts will lend a variety of possible critical perspectives to your analysis.

Chief Seattle. "Environmental Statement." In Writing About the World. 2nd edition. Ed. Susan McLeod. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Pub., 1995. 42-44.

Darwin, Charles. "The Action of Natural Selection." In Writing About the World. 1995. 44-46.

King, Winston L. "Religion and Nothingness." In Writing About the World. 1995. 516-518.

Mead, Margaret. "Warfare: An Invention--Not a Biological Necessity." In Writing About the World. 1995. 87-92.

Memmi, Albert. "Racism and Oppression." In Writing About the World. 1995. 250-257.

Russett, Cynthia E. "Darwin in America," In Writing About the World. Ed. Susan McLeod. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991. 100-103.

Simpson, George E. "Early Social Darwinism." In Writing About the World. 1991. 97-99.