Film Present Conventional Concepts California And
Part 2: Course Films and Concepts
Write an essay that responds to one of the following prompts. Your essay should be 1000-1500 words long. It should have an introduction with a thesis statement, body paragraphs that use descriptive analysis of course films as evidence for your argument, and a conclusion that brings your argument to a close without re-stating major points. (See my “How to Write for Me” handout in bCourses/Files/Syllabus and handouts for more.)
- Choose one of the following films and write an essay analyzing how it makes an argument about the relationship between appearance and identity. Does this film argue that appearance and identity are the same — that we are what we seem? Does it argue that appearance and identity are mutable? Does it argue that appearance influences identity — that by changing our appearance, we are altering who we are “underneath” — or, instead, that identity persists in spite of changes to our appearance? Films: Go West, San Francisco, Dark Passage, Vertigo.
- Choose one of the following films and write an essay analyzing how this film constructs and/or critiques the idea of family. Does this film present conventional concepts of family, or does it challenge and extend traditional family structures? Does it argue that family is a strategic and temporary affiliation, or a stable and enduring institution? How does it complicate and/or undermine its own arguments? Films: Go West, The Grapes of Wrath, Rebel Without a Cause, The Exiles, How the West Was Won.
- Choose one of the following films and write an essay analyzing how it constructs California and the American West. How does this film cast California (and/or specific city-sites like San Francisco and Los Angeles) in its characters’ dramas of mobility and metamorphosis? Is California a destination for positive transformation, for painful discoveries, for re-writing or redeeming history? How does this film complicate or problematize cultural idealizations of California and its role in the American dream? Films: Go West, San Francisco, The Grapes of Wrath, Dark Passage, Rebel Without a Cause, Vertigo, The Exiles, How the West Was Won.
I will assess your responses by how carefully you use descriptive analysis of the film’s narrative, cinematography, mise-en-scène, editing, and sound (including dialogue) to describe both the film’s superficial arguments and its more subtle, complex, and at times contradictory ideas. I will not review drafts in office hours, but I can talk to you about the films.