DPD Essay Project Overview and Contributor Guidelines:
The capstone project for ENG 223 is an 8-10 paragraph research and analysis essay exploring the representation of DPD issues such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic class, and/or ability in your choice of a single film, television episode (or show), video game, comic book or other visual media. I am excited to share that thanks to the support of an LBCC Faculty Innovator Grant, you will have the option of publishing your completed essay as part of a non-profit Creative Commons web-based ebook that will be published by Spring 2021 similar to this book – Culture and the Sitcom – created by students at Wake Forest University. You will have the option of submitting your assignment privately on Canvas if you do not wish to participate in the publication project. Your essay will include an analysis of the film’s visual and sound techniques and use research from the LBCC library website (and the internet) to provide background and contextual information about your film. Movie reviews, books, and essays by scholars who have analyzed race, gender, etc in other films can offer guidance on how to explore your film and a wide range of sources to learn more about the writer, director, cast, and crew.
- For Part 1 of this project, you will choose your film or television show from the list of free movie websites below or from your own streaming services or DVD collection and use the Film Analysis Guide developed by Yale University to take notes like a film studies student over a short sequence of shots to help you establish patterns of editing, cinematography, visual design (also called mise en scene), and sound in the film or other visual media you are analyzing. Your entire essay does not have to focus just on the scene you examine for these notes but your notes will be a key starting place and help you practice visual analysis to generate ideas for your essay. You are welcome to use portions of your notes directly in your essay. Note, if preferable you may swap the Part 1 and 2 deadlines.
- For Part 2 of this project, you will use the ENG 223 Library Research Guide created for us by research librarian Richenda Hawkins to create an annotated bibliography of 6 potential sources you might be able to use in your essay to provide supporting research and evidence and offer additional context for your analysis. Note, if preferable you may swap the Part 1 and 2 deadlines.
- For Part 3, you will write a complete first draft of your 8-10 paragraph essay for workshopping, peer review, and required submission to the LBCC Online Writing Center for feedback.
- For Part 4, you will submit your final draft for assessment and (with your consent) inclusion in the class publication project. This will be your capstone project for the course.
Keys to Success: Think about the keywords “encoding and decoding” from Chapter 1 of America on Film as you reflect on what messages (intentionally or unintentionally) were encoded into the film by the people that made it and what messages you decoded (intentionally or unintentionally) as you watched and rewatched the film. Also think about how you can use examples of all five elements of cinematic form – literary design, visual design, cinematography, sound design, and editing – as you analyze the film.
What are Creative Commons and Open Pedagogy?
Our course project will be published as a shareable, non-commercial Creative Commons publication made available for free on the internet through the Open Oregon website. This means we are publishing our writing for free to anyone that would like to read it, such as Oregon high school students studying difference, power, and discrimination in their courses. My approach to teaching has increasingly included Open Pedagogy, meaning that I am dedicated to sharing what I am teaching and you are learning and creating in class with our local LBCC, Willamette Valley, state, national, and global communities.
Before proceeding to Part 1 of the final project, please read this ENG 223 Creative Handout and watch the video below to help you start planning ahead to decide if you feel comfortable sharing your final draft with the world along with other English 223 students: LBCC Creative Commons Projects Video Tutorial (by OER librarian Michaela Willi Hooper).
Part 1 Task: Shot by Shot Notes
To develop your comfort level using cinema studies vocabulary in your writing, will take shot-by-shot notes on one short but important sequence from your movie or television show in order to practice the key skills of film analysis and identify examples you can use in your essay. Your essay will not be limited in focus to this one short sequence in the film, but you should make use of these notes somewhere in your essay.
Step 1 – Click this link to the Film Analysis Guide. The link will take you to Part 6 of the guide; then click the links to look at the example notes over the films Rocco and His Brothers and Il Grido (don’t worry if you haven’t seen them, the key is to look at how the vocabulary terms used in the students’ notes and to see how they used screen snipping to grab sequential shots from the movie). Once you choose your movie or tv show, you will model your notes after these examples. Parts 1-5 of the film guide offer a complete glossary of film studies terms organized by basic terms, mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, and sound which you are encouraged to read through to help you take the best notes possible on your film. The Columbia Film Language Glossary is another useful resource to get your terminology correct.
Step 2 – Open a Google doc or Microsoft Word doc and at the top put your name, the name of the movie/show, and a chapter title or your own name and a timestamp (example, 1hr:24min:43sec – 1hr:25min:54sec) . Then Insert a 3-column table with 9 rows. Label the top row across the columns: Image, Shot Description, Analysis. If you wish to take hand-written notes you may submit jpg or pdf image of them as long as their relatively legible.
Step 3 – Open your movie or show in Firefox or Chrome Browser and pause the film on the frame that will be your first shot and use your “Snipping tool” (or Command+Shift+4 for Mac users) to snip the image and then copy and paste it into the second row of your document table in the Image column. Please note that for a small number of computer users, this function may be blocked by your spyware/adware protection. Netflix, Disney+, etc may also try to block you from using snipping but it does work on most laptops and desktops. If it does not work for you, you are welcome to just mark the time in the film or show instead of the images and then use your notes to describe it.
Step 4 – Move slowly through the rest of your short sequence, pausing and rewinding as needed. Clap your hands, blink, your eyes, or snap your fingers every time there is an edit or shot transition and pause the movie to take another screen snip. You’ll be surprised how fast this goes and how little of the film’s you will describe in your notes; remember this is just a starting point for your essay to help you practice key vocabulary.
Step 5 – Once you have 8-10 sequential shots from the film or show in your notes, you can start filling in the Shot Description and Analysis sections. For the Shot Description, the key is to look at (and listen for) all the techniques being used (editing, sound, cinematography, and mise-en-scene). Feel free to use abbreviations for the students for terms like MCU (Medium Close-up) or XLS (Extreme Long Shot) and small font sizes like 10 or 11 to save space. For the Analysis, the key is to brainstorm how those techniques help you better understand the plot, characters, and themes of the movie or show – especially things connected to DPD issues.
Step 6 – If you wish to go beyond 8-10 sequential shots in order to expand your notes to a longer scene or other places in the movie or show feel free but only after you’ve provided me this in-depth look into a microcosm of the overall movie or show
Step 7 – Save your document often and post it here when you’re done.
List of Websites with Free Movies:
LBCC Academic Films on Demand from LBCC Library website
LBCC Sony Pictures Classics Collection (300+ acclaimed Sony films)
Sony Crackle: https://www.sonycrackle.com
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/movies
Popcorn Flix: https://www.popcornflix.com
Library of Congress: Selections from the National Film Registery: https://www.loc.gov/collections/selections-from-the-national-film-registry/
National Film Board of Canada: https://www.nfb.ca/films/
Part 2 Task: Annotated Bibliography
For Part 2 of this project, you will use the ENG 223 Library Research Guide created for us by research librarian Richenda Hawkins to create an annotated bibliography of 6+ potential sources you might be able to use in your essay to provide supporting research and evidence and offer additional context for your analysis. Format your document as a Google doc or Microsoft Word doc for submission. Contact Richenda at email@example.com early in the week to get research help if you have any difficulty with this task.
- An annotated bibliography starts with a regular bibliography (a list of sources you are reading while working on an essay or presentation). The annotation includes additional information about the source and how it might be useful for your research (whether you cite it in your essay or not doesn’t matter at this point). For each entry in your annotated bibliography, you will include:
- A full MLA style citation for the source, followed by…
- a short paragraph of 3-4 sentences summarizing the source,
- a short paragraph of 3-4 sentences evaluating the credibility of the source and author or publisher, and
- a short paragraph of 3-4 sentences brainstorming how the source might be useful to your research
- Your job is to include six sources. At least two of these have to come from the ENG 223 Library Research Guide. The other three may come from web sources like Google Scholar, IMDB.com or online websites like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.
- At least one source must be a book that is not your textbook
- At least one source must be written someone you can identify as scholar/teacher of film or television (for example, they have a PhD, teach at a university or college, etc)
- At least one source must be a movie review or critical analysis of the movie
- At least one source must focus on DPD issues raised by the movie or show you are analyzing (even if not about the movie itself)
- You are welcome to cite your textbook for your course essay but NOT for this research assignment
Library Reference and Student Help Desk services are available.
- Call the Reference Desk at (541) 917-4645 or the Student Help Desk at (541) 917-4630.
- Email the Reference Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Student Help Desk at email@example.com
- Text the Reference Desk at (650) 667-6620 or the Student Help Desk at (541) 704-7001.
- Give us a video call via Zoom at https://linnbenton.zoom.us/j/243933025 (privacy info)
Part 3 Task: Rough Draft, Writing Center Feedback, and Peer Review
Task 3a: Rough Draft
Draft an 8-10 paragraph essay analyzing how issues of DPD are represented in this film. As you write your essay, remember you are writing to a reader that may not have seen the movie you are discussing. However, try not to fall into the trap of simply summarizing the entire plot of the film for people. You are required to directly quote and cite at least three different sources in this essay and include a works-cited list at the end of all the sources you cite. You may use the course textboook as one of these sources and up to six (max) additional research sources using the LBCC library website and the internet. You should use at least one of the sources you initially researched for your Annotated Bibliography.
**ENG 223 LBCC Library Guide: http://library.linnbenton.edu/film
**As soon as you post your rough draft to this assignment board, make sure you also send it to the LBCC Online Writing Lab for feedback. You are welcome to complete your writing lab submission early in your writing process with an outline or very rough draft or wait until you have a fully developed rough draft before submitting it. You will post the feedback you receive from the Writing Center to the DPD Essay Part 3: Writing Center Feedback assignment on Canvas by Wednesday, June 3.
Organizing your Essay: The following paragraphs provide a suggested outline for the essay. As 200-level students trust you to have the experience of writing essays for other classes like WR 121 to make your own decisions about how to keep your writing organized. I suggest writing an outline or rough draft using some or all of the paragraph ideas below, then use the writing skills you have developed in other courses (or professional experience) to organize and revise your final draft into the format you feel is best for your analysis.
* first paragraph:
- Why are you excited about this movie or show, and why should other people care? In the first few sentences, try to get your readers interested in this work, even if it’s new to them.
- What is your central theme or argument (your thesis)? Address this in the first paragraph or two. Your thesis should relate to how effectively and/or ineffectively the film represents issues of difference, power, and discrimination and how that representation is accomplished through specific visual and audio techniques (editing, sound design, visual design/mise en scene, cinematography, and/or literary design).
* body paragraph idea 1: What is the context for the piece you’re analyzing? For example, are the plots and characters related to important things happening in the world at that time? Did anything in the making of the work relate to your thesis, or to DPD (for example, was everyone in the cast/crew presented as white, straight, and able-bodied?)
* body paragraph idea 2: What specific scenes, characters, themes and cinematic techniques are most useful to help you explain how representations of Difference are encoded into the text? As you decode the text, do you find yourself generally in agreement with the film’s point of view or is your own view more oppositional or negotiated? What elements did you include in your notes that help explain? Are there movie reviews, cast information, or scholarly articles on this film or related films to be particularly useful? An outside source quotation or paraphrase with a citation is recommended for this paragraph to support your textual analysis.
* body paragraph idea 3: consider how Power can be expressed in many different ways both within the diegetic world of the film’s narrative and on/off the set during production. What specific scenes, characters, themes and cinematic techniques are most useful to help you explain how representations of power are encoded into the text? As you decode the text, do you find yourself generally in agreement with the film’s point of view or is your own view more oppositional or negotiated? What elements did you include in your notes that help explain? Are there movie reviews, cast information, or scholarly articles on this film or related films to be particularly useful? An outside source quotation or paraphrase with a citation is recommended for this paragraph to support your textual analysis.
* body paragraph idea 4: While difference and power are always present in media texts, Discrimination is not always overtly represented on screen. For this paragraph, ask yourself whether Discrimination may be directly and/or indirectly represented on screen? Could discrimination have occurred in casting or during production? What specific scenes, characters, themes and cinematic techniques are most useful to help you explain how representations of Discrimination are encoded into the text? As you decode the text, do you find yourself generally in agreement with the film’s point of view or is your own view more oppositional or negotiated? What elements did you include in your notes that help explain? Are there movie reviews, cast information, or scholarly articles on this film or related films to be particularly useful? An outside source quotation or paraphrase with a citation is recommended for this paragraph to support your textual analysis.
* body paragraph idea 5: What are some alternative or even counterargument perspectives on this film have your classmates brought or that that you found in a review or user comment online or from a classmate that has also watched this media text. Or you might use this paragraph to share more research you found about how the film was made or how the specific DPD issues you have analyzed thus far intersect with other DPD issues or just other social/historical issues you know about or have learned about in another class.
* body paragraph idea 6: Why was this the one text you chose out of the gazillions of things out there for you to watch and consume. You could share a story from your personal life, work, or school that makes this text interesting, you could relate this film to other texts in this genre that you’ve seen and share your opinions about trends you’re seeing in this genre, you could wax philosophical about what this film inspires you to think about, you could …. well, you get the idea.
* Conclusion paragraphs: Any good paper should circle back to where the reader entered the writer’s perspective, so be sure to remind the reader about the scene, story, example, etc. that started your essay and use that as a transition into a conclusion that ties together the loose threads and helps the reader understand why the issues represented in this film are relevant and also whether or not you would recommend the film to your reader.
* Papers that cite sources need to also include a list of works cited at the end in MLA format
* Be creative in how you organize your paragraphs and use good transition sentences to tie sections of the paper together for the reader.
Task 3b: Writing Center Feedback
- Schedule a visit with the LBCC Writing Center and post your feedback to the course website.
Task 3c: Peer Review
Review and provide feedback on the rough drafts of at least two classmates, in class or online depending on how the course is conducted. Peer Review is a core component of acdemic publishing.
Peer review guidelines: As a peer reviewer for this project I want you to think like a book editor. Your goal is to help get this essay ready for publication in the class project not to punish or make them feel rejected for not having a perfect first draft. A good peer review offers constructive criticism with the goal of helping the author complete the best possible essay. This does not mean that you simply pat them on the back and say good effort; a good peer review offers both praise and critique that is specific and focused. As a writer, it’s important to learn to take criticism and know that it’s not personal, just the reviewer’s sincere effort to see the best final version of this paper.
For each person whose essay you review please answer each of the following questions in 3-4 sentences. Make sure to quote directly from your peers’ essays and be sure to identify the page and paragraph for any places you are referencing to suggest changes or give compliments.
- How well has the writer hooked you into the essay and maintained a sense of flow and organization all the way through the conclusion? Are there places where the flow of the essay is particularly dynamic or where the write drifts onto a tangent or simply need sharper transitions between paragraphs? Does it feel like the essay has a clearly identifiable beginning, middle, and end?
- Identify the thesis sentence in the essay that provides the main idea. Is this thesis written as an argument where the writer is taking a position that other people may have a different perspective on or is the writer kind of just pointing out a fact or making a circular argument? Is the thesis narrow enough that the writer can adequately develop and defend it in an essay of 8-10 paragraphs or is it so broad that it might take 20 or 30 pages to fully explain?
- Identify places in the essay where the writer is describing the movie or television show they have selected and take note of how many specific film studies vocabulary terms (terms associated with editing, sound, cinematography, visual design, and literary design) are used in the essay. Let your peer know which parts of their description are the most effective at this point and which things need more description or better use of specific technical filmmaking terms to make the writing sound more professional.
- How effectively is the writer demonstrating their knowledge of DPD issues and using that knowledge to enhance your understanding of the movie or show they’re writing about? Think about all the issues we’ve covered in the textbook this term and also your own understanding of them? Is this essay clearly focused on the representation of at least one important DPD topic such as race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, gender, or ability? If the writer is discussing two or more different DPD topics are the connections between them make clear?
- How effectively does the writer incorporate outside sources into the essay in order to enhance your understanding of the topics and movie/show being analyzed? If you were to find this essay posted to an online blog or website, would you say that the writer had clearly done their research? Click on the links or use the web to check all of the sources used in the paper and evaluate the overall quality level of the sources. Is the essay scholarly enough for a 200-level course without sounding too stuffy or packed with unnecessary sources?
- Keep it/Toss it – End your review by focusing on what you feel are the best parts of the essay that the writer should definitely keep in their final draft and what are the one or two most important things that you would advise changing or maybe dropping altogether.
- Final thoughts – optional final thoughts, or other notes of anything you wanted to mention about the essay that you didn’t include for one of the other questions.
DPD Essay Final Draft and Class Project Submission
An important step before you submit your final draft:
*If you are willing to allow me to publish your essay with those from other students in ENG 223 in Spring 2021, please include the following phrase in all caps at top of your essay or very end: CREATIVE COMMONS APPROVED. Consent forms also provided in c.ass.
*If you do not wish to participate in the class project, simply turn in your essay without the Creative Commons phrase. Essay grades are not tied to your decision to participate or not in the class project. Please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Assessment information and rubrics provided for students on the course website.
Final Draft Formatting and Images
As you complete your final draft, please insert up to 4 (max) screengrabs from your film or tv show in your essay with captions. Look at the example essays in Culture and the Sitcom to see what I mean. Make sure to indicate whether your images are screen snips or if you found them on the web so they can be properly cited when I prepare the project for publication. You can also use Culture and the Sitcom model to format your font, title, and other elements of your essay.