Term paper is for my Art of Cinema class, and is an essay on the Coming of Age genre, comparing the movies Lady Bird (2017) and Dead Poets Society (1989). The thesis needs to explain how these 2 movies suceed in being Coming of Age      films. I’ve attached the assignment file with specific instructions. 3 specific sources are required which is explained in     the file. I’ll copy and paste a shortened version of instructions below in case you want to read it here 🙂 Thank you so     much!!

Art of Cinema Fall 2020

T.A. DONGWON OH

Paper: due 12/1

Format:

7-8 full pages, typed, double-spaced, 12-point Times Roman font, 1-inch margins all around. This is the equivalent of about 2100-2400 words. 

Choose one of the following pairs of films, representative of a particular genre, to write a 7 to 8 page paper, using both original analysis and outside research.  You will be expected to devise your own thesis and argue that thesis with a coherent and organized discussion on the topic. Your thesis MUST engage with the class concepts on genre and the historical/cultural context of your respective films. Be sure to use the terminology and concepts provided by Dr. Banks in lecture and/or those used by the course readings.

At least one combination of these films will be made available online, but those that are not can be accessed through online sources (Netflix or amazon)

Options:

Coming of Age

  • Dead Poets Society (1989) – Prime, AppleTV, Vudu for $3.99
  • Ladybird (2017) – Netflix 

How to Begin Writing:

Consider each genre’s formulas, conventions and/or iconography and how they apply to each film.  In order to construct a strong argument, compare and contrast both films and take into account the historical period that each film belongs to in relation to the ways in which a particular approach to genre is utilized to convey meaning (classical, post-classical, modernist, postmodern).  Don’t focus on whether or not the film “fits” within the genre listed on the assignment sheet, and don’t base your argument on how the two films show a change or evolution in genre – that’s the assumption of the assignment.  Go beyond that and look closely at how the historical period affects the way the genre conveys meaning or the way in which different approaches to the genre are utilized to convey meaning. 

Keep in mind that the purpose of this paper is to compare two films of the same genre from different periods. Considering the ways in which the films are similar, as well as how they differ is a good place to start in the development of a thesis, but you want to make sure that the analysis in your paper ultimately reflects a historical understanding of genre (although this does not mean that you should be summarizing the history of your genre for this paper).  Ask yourself how your films work within generic formulas, conventions and iconographies.  Within this analysis you should be examining the generic formulas, conventions, and iconography at work in the films, as well as the ways in which the style (or formal elements) influence the ways in which the audience understands and interprets these various generic elements.  For example: how do we understand a classical Hollywood western to be different from a contemporary Science Fiction western? What does this stylistic shift communicate about the respective cultural contexts/historical periods?  These are the types of questions that you should be thinking about in relation to your films.  Having a clear understanding of your genre will help you answer these questions.

You should also consider the era of each film.  In which period would you categorize each film, and what are the implications of the era in which this film is made? Be sure to draw on concepts from lecture, discussion, and the course readings.  Keep in mind that although you will need to historicize your films, your analysis needs to be more sophisticated than simply categorizing your films, and not all films will be easy to clearly categorize (just because your film was made in 1980 does not mean that it is a Blockbuster film).  If you are having difficulty categorizing your film, consider the historical or cultural contexts of the films as a possible means of relating their differences.  Also consider that you may have a film or films that seem to correspond better to the traits of another period—this might be worth discussing in your paper.  

Furthermore, be sure that you are drawing on appropriate formulas, conventions, and iconography of the genre you are discussing; that is, don’t assume that just because you’ve seen every slasher film of the ‘80s and ‘90s, you know the horror genre.  This assignment requires that you have a clear understanding of how genres develop and change over time –so please make sure that you are adequately addressing both films in your final paper.   If you are basing your knowledge only on postmodern examples, you do not have an adequate understanding of the genre, and this will probably be a good place to direct the bulk of your research. 

Research:  

This paper requires you to incorporate your own original analysis with the work of other writers on film.  You must include and respond to at least three (3) outside sources.  This means that you will have at least three (3) sources cited in your paper.  

At least two of these sources must be e-books or journals you accessed through LMU library that addresses the genre under examination.  A third source can be a newspaper or magazine article that addresses the film (or films), the filmmakers, or the historical context in which the film was made.  This third source can be a review or other commentary on the film(s). 

The three kinds of scholarly sources you must use are:

1) Genre Theory – These sources should deal with general theoretical frameworks regarding genre theory and specific writings on your particular genre choice (Some good examples include: Film Genre Reader, edited by Barry Keith Grant, Genre and Hollywood, by Steve Neale, and Film/Genre by Rick Altman).  Our libraries offer books on all of the genres covered by this assignment, so you should be able to find sources easily.  The LMU library also has a plentiful selection of film periodicals that often include work on genres.

2) Historical context – In order to explore more detailed information on the history of a particular period as it relates to film, you should consider looking at David Cook’s A History of Narrative Film, Pam Cook’s The Cinema Book and Robert Ray’s A Certain Tendency of Hollywood Cinema 1930-1980.  (NOTE: Film Art does NOT count as a source, although you are welcome to use it otherwise).  

Film/Filmmaker—This should be fairly self-explanatory.  The library’s resources on some filmmakers and films will be better than others, but don’t hesitate to ask the library staff for help if you are stuck.  If you are having trouble finding resources related to a particular film or filmmaker, contact me.

3) Textual or Cultural Analysis of a specific film – Many of the films I’ve assigned have been written on extensively.  As the purpose of this assignment is for you to come up with an original thesis and then use research to support your thesis, I’d warn you against letting prior scholarly writings on your film shape your thesis.  That said, it can be helpful to see how the film has been addressed by various scholars in various cultural contexts, and is a good jumping off point if you’re feeling stuck. 

Make sure that all three sources are incorporated with your own ideas and help to prove your thesis.  A quote about how good (or bad) a film is, for example, does not help prove your thesis.  Quote material that critically engages with the film or genre and quote material that helps your argument.  

Websites, DVD commentaries and interviews, works of fiction, book jackets, DVD boxes, fliers from Best Buy, and the like are not sources which critically engage with films or film genres.  These DO NOT count as sources.   Internet sources like Wikipedia, Turner Classic Movies, IMDB, and Rotten Tomatoes; DVD commentaries DO NOT count toward the research requirement.

Essays will be graded on the basis of the following criteria: 

1 | The quality of your argument or thesis 

2 | Your grasp of the key terms or issues 

3 | Your ability to analyze ideas and texts in meaningful ways 

4 | The effective use of research—when necessary (and it IS necessary here) —and examples to support your points, and 

5 | The structure, transitions, and overall cohesiveness of the piece 

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