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February 9: Close Analysis Assignment due in class (typed, double-spaced, and printed)
February 17: Optional workshop for Paper 1; bring typed draft to class for discussion after the film if you wish to participate.
February 24: Paper 1 due in class (paper copy) and by 9 p.m. (electronic copy)
Your first two writing assignments in this class are a short (500-750 words) close reading of an element in a film and an extended analysis paper (5-7 pages long). These writing assignments are linked in that your close reading paper may be integrated into your longer paper, if you wish.
The purpose of this paper is to investigate a theme, motif, or pattern of symbols within a film through a close reading of the techniques of film (shot length and sequences, use of color, use of framing and composition, and so on) or narrative (character development, use of setting, use of symbolism, and so on). Chapters 3 and 4 of Corrigan’s A Short Guide to Writing about Film provide some good discussion and examples of the kind of writing you’ll be doing for these papers, and we will be discussing those chapters in class. Also, the class’s analysis of the image from All that Heaven Allows on January 26 is a good example of close analysis.
You’ll want to see the film(s) you discuss at least once more before you write about them. The films are available on reserve in the Holland-Terrell library; go to http://griffin.wsu.edu/search/r and type in engl 339 to see a list of the films. Also, most of these can be ordered through Netflix, and a few are available online; see our course blog for links.
Close Analysis of a Film Element
Due date: A printed copy of this paper is due in class on February 9.
Write a brief (500-750 words, about 2-3 pages) close reading of an element in a film: a theme, a symbol, a motif, a structural element, a relationship, and so forth. If you have written about one of these features in your weblog, you can adapt a weblog post for this purpose, if you provide a closer analysis than you might have done in your blog post.
The choice of what you analyze is yours, but here are some suggestions. For example, you might want to analyze the chase sequence at the end of Redskin, or compare the setting of the Navajo sections of that film with the Pueblo sections, or discuss the film’s use of color, clothing, or some other element. Similarly, you might want to analyze the use of interior and exterior space in Ramona or in Within Our Gates, or to analyze the director’s use of various kinds of transitions between shots. You could also discuss the use of contrasting shots, settings, movement, or the composition of individual scenes in A Deal in Wheat or the use of sound and image in The Public Enemy or another gangster film.
This close reading of a film element can be incorporated into Paper 1, if you wish, but you are not obliged to make use of the close analysis in your paper if your topic changes. See the examples and questions in Chapter 3 of Corrigan’s A Short Guide to Writing about Film for help in formulating your topic.
Paper 1 Topics
Due date: A printed copy of this paper is due at the beginning of class on February 24. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time before class time to print the paper, since sometimes printers run out of ink, computers break down, and so forth. You also need to send me an e-version (in Word or .rtf format) by 9 p.m. on February 24.
The suggestions for the close analysis paper will give you some ideas for paper topics, but here are some others.