The purpose of this assignment is to recognize and evaluate how arguments about the film are constructed, and how elements of a filmed act as evidence for these arguments. This assignment emphasizes the strategies and importance of close reading – both in the act of watching a film and in reading an essay – as a component of the analysis. The assignment has three parts:
PART ONE: CLOSE READING
Your assigned essay is below.
Nachbar, Jack. “Doing the Thinking For All of Us: Casablanca and the Home Front.” Journal of Popular Film & Television 27:4 (2000): 5-15.
After you have screened Casablanca read it carefully. It constructs a critical argument about the film: Rather than summarizing or evaluating the film, the author looks at specific components (thematic, formal, social/historical) and draws from evidence both inside and outside of the film to act as support for their stated position. Read through the article, several times, with a writing utensil in hand, until you have a sense of its thesis, argument, and evidence.
PART TWO: IDENTIFICATION
Identify and mark five components that contribute to a successful argumentative essay. Either:
print out and underline or highlight and label a physical copy of the essay, or
use Adobe editor to annotate a PDF, marking each of the components below.
Use color coding, shorthand, or another appropriate method to designate each of the components, but your system must be clear and recognizable.
Introduction: This is sometimes the first paragraph, but not always. When does the author focus on context that is important to his argument? In what ways does the author provide clues for what the essay will be arguing? What is the reader expected to know about the film (or anything else) in order to understand the essay?
Thesis Statement: What (and where) is the thesis statement? How does the author define the purpose of the essay? What will he be arguing?
Argument: Where does the author make his argument(s)? Where does the author draw conclusion(s) from his evidence? Do these arguments restate, or further complicate, the initial thesis?
Evidence from the film: What specific evidence from the film does the author use to support his or her claims? Consider what form this evidence takes (dialogue, editing, plot points, etc.). What parts of the film are not mentioned in the essay at all?
Evidence from outside the film: What evidence does the author draw from outside the film? From where is this evidence drawn, and what form does it take (essay, book, historical/archival record, newspaper, etc.)?
PART THREE: RESPONSE
Finally, write a response that provides an overview of the argument and evidence for the essay. Your response should be 1 full page (standard 12-point font, double spaced, 1” margins, approximately 300 words).
In your response, use your own words to summarize the major argument of the essay, as well as the key evidence that is used to support that argument. Upon what elements of the film does the author’s argument rely on? What is the key evidence from outside the film that is necessary for the argument? You might consider some of the questions from the previous page to prompt your thinking. You are encouraged to reference (but not copy & paste) specific passages from the essay – and be sure to cite all that you do use.
You will submit on Blackboard:
Your annotated article as either:
A PDF scan of your marked physical copy (all pages merged into one document), or
an edited PDF
Your 1-page article response
Pro Tip: most students lose the most points on this assignment because they don’t mark the whole article. Read the rubric carefully and be sure to cover the whole article.
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