FILM 2607A/ENG 2601A Coursework

By April 10, 2018Academic Papers




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FILM 2607A/ENG 2601A


Essay Proposal and Final Research Paper Topics




Objective of the Assignment: to allow students to further engage with course topics and readings by applying what they have learned to the analysis of films not screened as part of the course.  I have asked you to write a very short and largely tentative proposal so that you can get started on the assignment well in advance of the due date.


*Read all of the instructions before starting this assignment




a) Essay Proposal (5%): Due via cuLearn on Thursday March 22nd (up to midnight)


Instructions: You are required to write a research paper proposal, based on one of the topics listed below. If you are interested in developing your own topic based on course material or would like to write about films other than the ones listed, please consult me as soon as possible and I will see if you can be accommodated.


Your proposal must consist of three components:


-A tentative thesis statement (one to two sentences)

-Point-based outline (three points)

-A list of your sources (two)


Your thesis statement should be one to two sentences in length. Your thesis statement should convey the topic you have chosen to write about (i.e. the film/reading you have chosen to write about) as well as a sense of your position on this topic (i.e. what do you plan to argue about this film/reading). If you feel comfortable using first person address, you can do so for this portion of the assignment.


The second component of your proposal is a point-based outline of the evidence you plan to use to prove your thesis statement. You should have at least three points in your outline, though you may discuss more than these three points when actually writing the final essay. These points can include elements of style or theme.


The last component of your proposal is a list of two sources, not including course materials or the textbook, that you will utilize in your essay. When actually writing the essay, you must draw from course materials, but for this assignment, please include two sources not studied in class. These sources can be scholarly articles, book chapters or sections of entire books.



b) Final Paper (35%): Due via cuLearn on April 9th (up to midnight)


Your papers should be eight to ten pages in length, double-spaced and you must use a 12 point font. Do not exceed the specified page length for this assignment. You must utilize course materials when completing this assignment. As this is a research paper, you are also expected to consult a minimum of two sources not found on the syllabus (and listed in your essay proposal).


*If you have produced a reading report based on any of the topics listed in this assignment, you cannot write your essay about the same topic (i.e. if you have written a reading report on Neepa Majumdar’s piece on Satyajit Ray, you should chose an unrelated topic for your final essay).



Explanation of Terms:


When I use the term ‘close analysis’ in the following topics, I mean detailed visual and auditory analysis of sequences in any given film (i.e. images and sounds). When I use the word ‘narrational’ or mention the word ‘narrative’, I want you think about how a story in a film is told (what are the ordering of narrative events, does the film follow a cause and effect structure, etc.).


As the page length is quite short, when I write ‘provide an analysis of such and such film’, you should only choose the most relevant sequences, narrative events, etc., to illustrate your arguments. Do not provide a plot summary of the film at any point.

Simply provide enough contextual information so that anyone reading your paper will understand what sequence you are discussing.


Citation and Research:

Please use either the MLA or Chicago style of citation



Note that you are not allowed to use ‘internet’ sources that are not of a scholarly nature.


A tutorial for finding journal articles can be found here:


You can also consult the Library Project Study Guide for Film Studies here:


Paper Topics:


1. Evaluate the validity of the claims made by Cesaire Zavattini concerning the central characteristics of Italian neo-realism through a careful analysis of either The Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio de Sica,1948), Shoeshine (de Sica, 1946) or Umberto D (de Sica, 1952). In what ways do these films conform to Zavattini’s assessments of this trend of filmmaking and in what ways do these films depart from Zavattini’s claims (week one)?


2. Provide a detailed examination of the narrational and stylistic characteristics of one of the following French New Wave films: Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960), Hiroshima mon amour (Alain Renais, 1959), Shoot the Piano Player (Francois Truffaut, 1960) or Les cousins (Claude Chabrol, 1960). As Bordwell and Thompson write, virtually all postwar New Wave cinemas demonstrated a certain awareness of film history and many of the directors of these movements were experimenting with film style and narration (pg.403-407). Demonstrate how this is the case in your analysis of one of these films (week three).


3. Satyajit Ray once described himself as a “serious commercial filmmaker” (Majumdar, pg. 517). Drawing from Neepa Majumdar’s chapter on cuLearn (week two), explore whether or not Ray’s Aparajito (1956) or Apur Sansar (1959), which are the second and third films belonging to the ‘Apu Trilogy’, fall in line with Bordwell and Thompson’s characterization of modernist art cinema as that which “located itself between the intelligible, accessible entertainment cinema and the radical experimentation of the avant- garde” (pg. 330). This topic will also enable you to explore whether or not the more specific categorizations of postwar art cinema outlined in the textbook, such as the notions of objective and subjective realism, are applicable to the analysis of either film.


4. As Phillip Rosen argues, Sub-Saharan African directors often had to aim at an international audience in the art cinema tradition while simultaneously addressing an

African audience (pg. 260). Drawing from course materials on the topic of postwar art cinema, in conjunction with material on postcolonial Sub-Saharan African cinema studied in class, determine the relevance of Rosen’s statement in a close analysis of a late film by Ousmane Sembene called Moolaadé (2004) (week five).


5. Examine the visual and narrational characteristics of ‘American art cinema’, as described by Bordwell and Thompson in their section on ‘New Hollywood’ (pg. 478) through the close analysis of either Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973), Klute (Alan J. Pakula, 1971), Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974) or The Conversation (Coppola, 1974). In addition to reading the chapter in the textbook, returning to material from the first week of term will be useful in reminding you of the salient characteristics of European art cinema (week eight).


6. In a conference paper, scholar Steven Shaviro argues that David Bordwell’s notion of intensified continuity operates from the assumption that continuity as a style thrives in the post-classical age but in its intensified form. Shaviro on the other hand, claims that post-continuity is the more appropriate term to use as contemporary directors place less importance on the rules of continuity editing. His paper can be accessed here:  This essay question requires you to think about this particular debate and ascertain whether or not you agree with Bordwell or Shaviro. You can illustrate your arguments through the close analysis of sequences from one of the following films: Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011), The Bourne Ultimatum (Paul Greengrass, 2007), Transformers (Michael Bay, 2007), Domino (Tony Scott, 2005), Gamer (Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, 2009) or The Hurt Locker (Kathyrn Bigelow, 2009) (week eleven).


7. In the first half of this essay, provide a clear account of Borde and Chaumeton’s criteria for the designation of a crime film as film noir (week four) while utilize the second half of the essay to evaluate the relevance of their criteria in a close analysis of either Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz, 1945) or Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947). Note if your research on either film draws attention to other ways of classifying film noir, which will allow you to ascertain both what is specific about Borde and Chaumeton’s approach to the subject and the ways in which scholarship in this area has developed over time.


8. Analyze either Battle of Chile, Part One (Patricio Guzmán, 1975) or Memories of Underdevelopment (Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, 1968) as an example of Third Cinema. Consider whether or not these films stage any departures from the components of Third Cinema outlined in “Towards a Third Cinema” (week six). Alternatively, you can think about whether or not ‘Third Cinema’ as a concept remains relevant to an analysis of contemporary political cinema, such as the work of Field of Vision, which is a mobile film collective:


9. Does Alanis Obomsawin’s Trick or Treaty (2014) fit the parameters of the classic ‘Alanis Obomsawin film’, as outlined by Zuzana Pick in “Storytelling and Resistance: The Documentary Practice of Alanis Obomsawin”? (week nine). Note that you can watch this film on the National Film Board of Canada’s website,












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