Analytical Essay Assignment

due 10/7 by midnight via email as .rtf or .doc format

The beginning of any narrative teaches us how to understand what will follow. This idea is an important tenet of narratology, making the opening sequences of any film or television show essential to understanding comprehension and storytelling. For this assignment, you will apply the concepts we have explored thus far in class in an examination of the opening minutes of a film or television episode of your choosing (but not one that has been screened in class). The result should be a 1,500-2,000 word essay offering a close, detailed analysis of how your chosen example teaches us how to watch the subsequent narrative.

In choosing your object of study, select a title that is available either within the Davis Library video collection or freely & legally online (on sites like Hulu) – be sure to indicate where to watch the title in your paper (library call # or link online). It should be a narrative work, but it could be fiction or non-fiction. If you choose a television series, you do not need to select the pilot episode, but you should consider how a mid-series episode might draw upon previous installments in shaping our viewing strategies. There is no hard and fast boundary for how long an “opening” might be – it’s up to you to determine what part of the beginning of a film or episode works to teach us how to watch.

Your analysis should draw explicitly on concepts explored by Bordwell and other readings. One of the goals of the assignment is to demonstrate your understanding of key terms and concepts, so accurate use of terminology is essential. Please do not quote from readings unless absolutely necessary (and then only use brief quotations) – if you do use a quotation, please provide the page number in parenthesis as a citation. No research is expected beyond the scope of gathering the example and reviewing the course readings. Your essay should be well-organized, clearly written, and precise in its use of details from both the film/episode and theory. Good luck!

Leave a Reply