English 103 Paper Three: Movie Thematic Analysis Spring 2020
TOPIC AND CONTEXT
For paper three, you will continue to practice your semiotic and rhetorical interpretive skills from paper two by interpreting a theme, and its cultural significance, from a movie. You will use semiotic and rhetorical analysis of three key signs to support and develop your thematic claim. So heres a question to consider: Thinking back to our authitors comments on cultural mythologies (17) in the intro pages of our anthology (eg, 16-19) and the intro to chapter two (eg, 233-236), why would those involved in creating, funding, and producing movies have particular perspectives, messages, and themes in mind that they would like viewers to accept? Thats the question whose answer you should use to examine the cultural significance of your theme.
INTRO PARAGRAPH Announce, in your hook, the general topic of your theme. Then, in your thesis statement, you make the specific claim, the interesting, debatable, and useful assertion ABOUT that topic. Thats coherenceinviting your audience to connect the ending with the beginning. Provide a narrowing transition that gives some historical background of the socio-politico-cultural forces that you believe are relevant to the topic you announced in the hook and the time period to which your text (episode or movie) belongs. Again, you must address the cultural significance of your theme, in your conclusion for sure, and probably over the course of your support for and development of your theme. A thesis that states your theme (ie, asserts a point, makes a claim about the general topic you announced in your hook) and identifies the key signs that you believe are crucial to supporting your theme. Remember to state your theme as an independent clause, a complete (SVO) idea; otherwise, its just a motif, not a theme. KNOWING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THESE TWO IS CRUCIAL FOR THIS PAPER.
BODY PARAGRAPH ONE Semiotically interpret your or movie by situating it within a system of relevant associations and differences (Maasik 229). See 230-232 and 294-296 for examples of this kind of semiotic interpretation. Be sure to at least allude to if not explicitly state one or two key signs whose meanings you will use to build the rhetorical support for your theme as you go through the semiotic analytical process of SIGN (your sign in this paragraph is the movie) SYSTEM SIMILARITIES DIFFERENCES MEANING (and meaning here is the unique spot your movie occupies within the system youve identified or constructed) Conclude by connecting the uniqueness (ie that difference you use to distinguish your movie from the other similar ones in your system) you ended with above (ie MEANING) to your theme.
BODY PARAGRAPHS TWO THROUGH. HOWEVER MANY (depending on how you handle my suggestions below) Now that youve contextualized your movie (within that system of related ones in body paragraph one), you move on to identifying the two or three signs (more than three is too much I think) in the movie upon which you will build the support for your theme. Depending on the length and complexity of your semiotic analysis, you may want to make separate paragraphs: one for your semiotic analysis, which sets out the interpretive process by which viewers make the meanings from the signs that you claim the texts (and text here means the movie) producers want them to, and then another for your rhetorical analysis, which explains how the signs meanings produce the emotional and intellectual responses that persuade viewers to accept the theme. If you think you should address what cues viewers into foregrounding your key signs, then you will explain the composition techniques toorecall Reading Visual Images Actively (29-32) from paper two, but ignore that element if you believe no viewer could miss them.
NEXT-TO-LAST PARAGRAPH: CONCESSION/COUNTERARGUMENT Recall HW question #4 on 243 on how Neal Gabler (The Social Networks) uses concession in his next-to-last paragraph to strengthen his argument. My take at this point is that by appealing to an ethos of open-mindedness and a logos of pragmatism in his last two paragraphs, Gabler influences us to like and trust him and then accept his claim that, sure, real-life relationships are much harder than television ones, but that very hardness, the challenges that come with authentic human connections is what makes them meaningful and productive. In your second-to-last paragraph, you will make a similar, Gableresque move
CONCLUSION Same as the first two papers (or any academic paper for that matter). Briefly sum up two or three key points and then, more importantly, answer the So what? question.
GENERAL POINTS TO CONSIDER The target audience, the typical viewers the production staff has in mind, those most likely to accept and then act on the theme you interpret. The meanings, claims, opinions the producers want viewers to accept and why. The rhetorical strategies (ethos, pathos, logos, eg, but not limited to those) that work to persuade the target audience to accept those claims. The cultural ideals (attitudes/behaviors we celebrate, promote, and emulate) and taboos (what we condemn, shun, and shame) the episode or movie appeals to, especially in terms of gender, racial, class, and intellectual assumptions (primarily these are appeals to logoi, but I can see pathos and ethos as well). Similar to the above, the fears and fantasies the show appeals to (primarily pathos here). How the global community may use all the above to define or understand American culture as a whole and why that communitys view matters.
REQUIRED ELEMENTS (not suggestions): At least four-and-a-half pages of discussion. All MLA format (and only 12-point Times New Roman font). See Purdue Universitys Online Writing Lab for basic MLA guidelines: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/557/01/. A Works Cited page with at least SIX entries: your movie or episode; your three SOL articles; your one outside source; and that article on critical thinking and critical pedagogy. COUNT EMTHATS SIX. At least three quotations from your episode or movie. At least five quotations from three different SOL readings in chapters three AND four. At least two quotations from a COC database or another outside-our-anthology source. description/syllabusyou must integrate whatever passage you choose into your discussion of your themes cultural significance/relevance.