Soc 365: Film & Social Theory Paper: 5-7 page paper.
No last-minute planning for this paper! The goal is for you to be not only intellectually engaged but to actually enjoy the assignment.
Part of the challenge of learning classical theory is applying the concepts introduced in class to contemporary culture. Films have been a fundamental medium for over a hundred years for having people consider social issues, problems, and other social phenomena. For this paper, choose a film (not a series or documentary) from the list supplied below (or check with your instructor for approval of another film), and write an analytical paper of 5-7 pages that synthesizes your learning from the class reading, lectures, and discussions about three of the social theorists, covered in the class.
Imagine watching the film you choose with an audience of four—you and three of the social theorists we have studied in the class. Imagine them interpreting and analyzing the film, and supporting or arguing with one another as they discuss the characters, plot, setting, action , and theme of the film. What would Durkheim, Marx, and Veblen have to say about the plot and characterizations of one of the many film versions of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations or Hard Times or of the classic Frank Capra film It’s a Wonderful Life? What would Marx, Veblen, and Gilman think of the themes developed in any of the various film versions of Jane Austen’s Emma (a modern version of Clueless) or Parasite? What would Marx, Veblen, and Martineau think of the plot and characterizations of Mean Girls or The Devil Wears Prada? How would Marx, Durkheim and Truth respond to Erin Brockovich? What would Durkheim, Simmel, and Truth make of The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly? Imagine asking what DuBois, Truth, and Comte would think of The Help or Hidden Figures.
In your paper you will need to:
- Write an introduction in which you name the film and the three theorists you have chosen, providing a rationale for why you chose each to analyze the film.
Provide a brief plot summary of the film, and critical information such as the year it was released, who directed it, and the main characters. This summary must be no more than 125 words, a long paragraph, a half page, at most.
Develop separate paragraphs in the body of the paper. Name and explain concepts developed by the social theorists you have chosen to analyze not only the plot, action, and setting but the characterizations of the major parts played by the actors. Using each theorist, explain what social forces have shaped the characters, and have influenced their motivations, aspirations, goals, and behaviors? What kind of society do they live in? How does that society shape the individual? You must analyze and interpret the film, using the theorists; don’t get carried away with merely describing the film’s story.
Balance your use of the theorists. You must use all three equally. Choose from: Comte, Durkheim, Marx, Weber, Simmel, DuBois, Veblen, Freud. If you would like to use one of the Martineau, Gilman, or Truth, choose one only.
Academic Research: Using the APA, cite and reference a minimum of three scholarly sources to support the claims you make in your paper. Of course, you will need to cite and reference additional sources such as background information about the film. IMDb.com has information about all the films listed below, as do promotional webpages about the films at the time of their release. (Wikipedia and blogs are not acceptable sources but they may guide you to sources that are).
Format: Double-space your paper and use 10-12 Times Roman or Ariel fonts. A title page and reference page do not count toward the 5-7 pages required. Please review an English writing handbook, NU Library re: peer reviewed sources, and the APA about what constitutes a reliable academic source. If you know you have trouble with your writing, I recommend that you make an appointment with the NU Writing Center, well in advance, to help you with this assignment (see syllabus for the link).
Some Film Recommendations
A Single Man
A Star is Born (any)
The Age of Innocence
All the President’s Men
Anna Karenina (any)
The Blind Side
Call Me by Your Name
Chariots of Fire
A Christmas Carol (any version of the Dickens’ classic)
The Constant Gardener
Dallas Buyers Club
The Devil Wears Prada
Down and Out in Beverly Hills
Emma (any version of the Austen classic)
Full Metal Jacket
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Girl with the Pearl Earring
Gone with the Wind
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Grapes of Wrath
Great Expectations (any version of the Dickens’ classic)
The Green Mile
The Hunger Games
The Hurt Locker
Mad Max (any)
Maid in Manhattan
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
9 to 5
No Country for Old Men
Notes on a Scandal
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Paths of Glory
Pride and Prejudice (any version of the Austen classic)
Remains of the Day
Sabrina (either version)
Sense & Sensibility (any version of the Austen classic)
Son of Saul
Swimming with Sharks
Titanic (any version)
Up in the Air
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
The Wolf of Wall Street
Zero Dark Thirty