Paper workshop - Justin Horton

The Final Paper
5-7 pages (double-spaced)
3 outside sources (2 academic, 1 popular)
MLA in-text citation format
Any film of your choice
 Except
weekly screenings
 Pending approval by me (email by Wednesday)
Wide open!
 Must
be argumentative
 Opinion
 Plot
 “Thematic” Analysis
 Compare/Contrast
 Two
films, book vs. film, etc.
Thesis Statement #1
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) is a re-make of the
classic 1984 horror film of the same name.
PROBLEM: Too Obvious; 7 pages?!
Thesis Statement #2
Avatar is one of the most innovative films of all time.
PROBLEM: Yeah? And?
Thesis Statement #3
The Social Network tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg
and how he became the world’s youngest
PROBLEM: Plot summary; No Analysis
Thesis Statement #4
Inception is the best movie of all time.
PROBLEM: “How could you possibly know that?”
How would you argue that?
Thesis Statement #5
Pretty Woman is a modern day fairy tale.
Better, but still has problems:
-No formal analysis
-No narrative analysis
BUT: could work with an ideological approach.
A thesis should…
Lay out a clear argument
Preview the main points of the argument
 Each
point should relate to ONE central idea
Provide a roadmap as to where the paper is
heading (1st, 2nd, 3rd)
Thesis Statement #6
Transformers is a unique
film due to the fact
that it was based on a
popular toy line,
contains CGI special
effects, and was a
blockbuster hit.
Preview of points
The “cool stuff” fallacy
 Obvious
 Points don’t cohere
 No analysis
Thesis Statement #7
In the Mood for Love is
a film that features
three-point lighting,
continuity editing, and
sound bridges to tell
its story of two lonely
Preview of points
 So what?
Most films use these
A thesis should
Address what is unique, unusual, interesting, or
thought-provoking about your film.
Tell a reader something s/he don’t already know.
 Assume
the reader (me) has seen your film.
 What has your analysis illuminated that someone who
hadn’t taken this course would’ve likely missed?
Thesis Statement #8
Black Swan conveys Nina’s fractured mental state
through three central motifs: mirrors, doubles, and
the metaphor of the swan transformation.
Thesis Statement #9
In Do The Right Thing, Spike Lee relies on a highly
stylized mise-en-scene to reflect the racial tensions
of the Bed-Stuy neighborhood on the hottest day of
the year. The film’s costumes, color palate, and
blocking all work to visually depict the conflict of
the film.
Thesis Statement #10
Taxi Driver has drawn a great deal of commentary
for its depiction of vigilante violence. But what if the
bloodshed that occurs in the film never actually took
place? In this paper, I will argue that the acts
perpetrated by Travis Bickle were confined to his
Set up the film
Brief (1-2 sentence) plot summary
HOOK your reader
 Why
would s/he want to keep reading?
Thesis + preview of main points
Top 7 Ways to Screw This Up
#7: The DVD Commentary
a/k/a the filmmaker’s intent
#6a: The Awards List
Oscars, Golden Globes, Cannes Film Festival, etc.
#6b: Box Office figures
“Avatar is the highest-grossing film of all time!”
#5: The Movie Review
Too much plot summary
Too much opinion
Not enough argument
#4: Poor Citation Style
Learn MLA formatting and how to use it!
#3: Bad Research
No academic sources
Not using sources to support your argument
“Sprinkling” quotes
 Adding
quotes at beginning or end of paragraphs with
no explanation of how it is relevant.
Irrelevant/misapplied quotes
 Make
sure you understand what the quotation means.
#2: Argument Doesn’t Match Thesis
Outline your paper first.
Each paragraph contribute to your argument.
#1: Excessive Praise
I need you to convince me that your argument is
1 Popular
 Examples:
New York Times, AJC, Newsweek, etc.
2 academic/scholarly sources
 Generally
long (15+ pages)
 Published by a University press
 Contains footnotes and citations
 Peer-reviewed

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