HIST214 Film and Society/Culture Paper
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Guidelines for the Film and Society/Culture paper
Your major project for this course is the film and society/culture paper. The assignment makes up 30%
of your total grade and is broken down into two parts:
1. 10 points and due by midnight Friday, Nov. 5: A draft paper of no less than 5 pages that sets out
your topic, the films you intend to watch and analyze, a listing of at least 6 articles or books you
will use to help you interpret the films, and a tentative hypothesis.
2. 20 points and due by midnight Thursday, Dec. 9: Your final paper, from 10 to 17 pages long (
2,500 to 4,200 words) not including bibliography or illustrations, uploaded to Moodle by the due
date at the end of the course.
– The project aims to have you connect your selected films to contemporary social and/or cultural
realities or moods. For instance, the rise of the noir gangster film has often been interpreted as
expressing the underside of American society in the post-war decades (read Shadoian): a sense
of hopelessness, vulnerability and drab conformity in which the individual (usually a man) is
overpowered by the impersonal city. Noir films convey this social message through:
o Plot and character development (esp. the femme fatale).
o Cinematography, scenery, and editing.
o Sound: diegetic and non-diegetic.
– Most films convey messages of some sort, and your task is to identify and then analyze how the
film produces and expresses these messages. Make sure your films are substantial enough to do
this. So—no Walt Disney for the most part. As noted in class today (10/19), stay away from
biopics, or anything that is too closely based on real events as this may make it harder for you to
offer an informed interpretation of the contemporary concerns, issues, developments that the
film expresses. I also recommend staying away from family sagas like the Godfather trilogy or
Once Upon a Time in America.
– You should work with at least two films, and I would recommend no more than four. Foreign films
are acceptable, as are contemporary films. Remember, that filmmakers are often talking about
some social, cultural, or other issue/context/concern in their time, and this is what you are
– You should be able to connect or contrast the films (your choice), but there should be a logic to
Drew University Spring 2020
HIST-214: Monsters and Gangsters Prof. Evans
– Your films must fit into the horror or gangster genre, but they do not have to be examples of the
classical genre. In other words, you can use more recent films as long as you can relate them to
– You must engage with at least 6 quality secondary sources (film criticism or other) to help you
perform your analysis. I will help you locate these sources
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