Assignment: Choose one of the three films we have watched and discussed in class so far this term (Rashōmon, Ikiru or Haraki/Seppuku), identify what you take to be a central theme/message of the work in a thoroughly articulated thesis paragraph (i.e., set forth a clear “road map” for your essay in terms of what you are going to do and how you are going to do it), present an argument in support of your thesis and substantiate your main points with specific references to the film. Incorporate at least one specific shot/scene/sequence description and analysis using technical film terminology and commentary on how the director’s style/technique/form in the scene contributes to the communication of the theme/message you choose to write about. Essays should be: in 12 point Times New Roman font, at least 5, but no longer than 6 double-spaced pages in length, and adhere to the following guidelines. Do not consult or use any secondary sources others than those explicitly assigned and provided for the course.
1) Title. Always provide a title for your essay.
2) Audience. Don’t assume detailed reader knowledge of your subject–write for a
general, educated reader and provide essential context/background information
regarding the film.
3) Clarity. Express your ideas clearly and concisely. Choose your language and technical terminology carefully, and allow ample time for editing, proofreading and polishing. Read your essay out loud to check flow and punctuation.
4) Redundancy. Avoid repeating yourself—make your points where they will be the
most effective and convincing and move on.
5) Voice. Write in active voice as much as possible.
6) Tense. Present tense is generally better when writing about artistic works.
Be consistent in your use of tense.
7) Thesis/argument. Articulate your thesis clearly and thoroughly at the outset and
maintain focus on your argument throughout the essay.
8) Design. Structure your essay so that it is coherent, integrated and has smooth, logical progression and development. Divide your ideas/points into unified paragraphs.
9) Substantiation. Support main points with carefully chosen references to the text. Do not assume that such references are self-explanatory. Always analyze/interpret them explicitly in terms of your thesis.
10) Documentation. Always provide clear, accurate citations indicating the sources, if any, of all quotations, paraphrased material and/or ideas derived from other people’s work.
11) Conclusion. Do not simply repeat what you have already argued in the body of
your essay. Instead, “step back” and comment on the broader, more general
significance, implications and/or relevance of your analysis/interpretation of the film.
Selected Technical Points
1) Titles of books and films: underline or place in italics.
2) Titles of articles, book chapters, poems, short stories etc.: place in “quotes.”
3) Foreign words—place in italics (note: proper names and foreign words/terms that
appear in standard English language dictionaries need not be treated in this way).
4) Diacritical marks—use macrons over vowels to indicate long sounds (e.g.. Rashōmon).
Questions for Final Drafts
1) Is the title of the essay interesting and informative?
2) Does the opening paragraph raise reader interest, provide a suitable context for the paper, and focus reader attention on the most important issue(s) to be discussed?
3) What is the basic argument? Is it articulated early enough and kept clearly in view throughout the essay? Does the essay have an argumentative edge?
4) Is each paragraph unified by one topic or idea? Are generalizations in each paragraph supported by appropriate concrete evidence? Are specific shots/scenes/sequences adequately analyzed and interpreted in terms of the thesis?
5) Does each paragraph build upon ideas presented in preceding paragraphs? Does the discussion flow smoothly, with no jarring leaps in thinking from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph?
6) Is the tone of the essay appropriate? Have technical terms been employed properly and effectively?
7) Is the expression concise, clear, emphatic? Have unnecessary words, inflated language and digressions been removed? Are spelling and punctuation correct?
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