Essay Assignments

ESSAY Assignments

The course is organized primarily around three graded essay assignments. For each essay assignment, you will submit and receive feedback on a zero draft and formal draft before you submit the final draft for a letter grade. Final drafts will only receive rubric feedback; if you so wish, you are welcome to meet with me in office hours to discuss rubric feedback further. In each of these essays, you will raise a central question that you will attempt to answer by evaluating and deeply analyzing the sources at your disposal.


Essay 1: Formal Analysis

Identify and discuss the significance of the audiovisual elements of a single scene from the short film “televisnu” by Prithi Gowda screened during class. How do these elements contribute to the meaning and impact of this particular scene? How might your analysis deepen your reader’s understanding of the importance of this scene to the entire film? To develop your argument, you must identify and carefully analyze elements of the “mise-en-scène” and discuss how they work together to create meaning.


Essay 2: Lens Analysis

Use ideas from “On Reading a Video Text” and “Masters of Desire: The Culture of American Advertising” as lenses to analyze a video advertisement of your own choosing. How does the advertisement attempt to persuade the viewer to utilize—or not utilize—a product, service, or brand? What story does it tell? What sorts of cultural symbols, values and myths does it draw on? Who is the target audience for this advertisement? You must also consider how your argument complicates or extends ideas from “On Reading a Video Text” and “Masters of Desire: The Culture of American Advertising.”

Essay 3: Researched Argument

Perform an extensive inquiry into the relevant contexts (e.g. cultural, historical, national, generic, ideological, or aesthetic) of a contemporary film of your own choosing in order to make an insightful argument about its success and/or significance. To what cultural moment does this film respond? What tensions does it reveal? Where does it stand in relation to its creator’s other work? Situate the film within those contexts that help illuminate its meaning, and use apt, credible theories and well-researched evidence to support and develop your insights. A successful essay will not simply repeat an existing opinion about a film but rather would contribute to the existing conversation about the film by complicating, contradicting or extending other credible points of view.

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