Final Paper Proposal

            My final paper will be about the television show The Office and will be centered on the filmic comprehension that Bordwell outlines in his book Narration in the Fiction Film.  Basically I will analyze the use of the camera, or in other words, the production crew, in the show and see how its narrative style is different from common sitcoms. 


            In essence the camera in the show is very distinct as it has a mind of its own.  Its acknowledgement by the characters is highlighted and fore grounded as it acts like a distinct character in the room— watching whatever catches its eye.  Also, the characters often give personal confessions to the camera as though they were confiding in a best friend.  In sum, this distinct use of camera style creates conflict, comedy, emotion, and is not just a window to the action—it actually changes it.  This is something that is quite unique and unusual in television, and I want to discover what effect this has on the overall narration.


            Therefore, I will discuss the restricted narrational knowledge of the show and how it is all narrated through a 1st person, subjective lens.  I will elaborate on the fact that the show is highly self-conscious, always asking you to notice the production methods.  Finally, I will talk about the extreme communicativeness of the show—showing us everything that the camera knows.


            Then in the second part of the paper I will discuss how all of these things function to produce a new type of schemata, a new way in which viewers quickly understand everything as though they were just a silent character in the show.  This schemata produces a show which functions like a reality TV show in that it reveals everything that it knows as it happens, yet in a documentary-esc style.


Sources Thus Far:


Bordwell, David. Narration in the Fiction Film. New York: University of Wisconsin P, 1985.

Heitah. “The Office (essay).” Everything2. 08 Dec. 2007. 11 Nov. 2008 <>. 

Hicks, Jesse. “The Office.” Rev. of The Office. PopMatters. 01 June 2006. 11 Nov. 2008 <>.

Walters, Ben. The Office. Grand Rapids: BFI, 2005.

“Why I Watch “The Office”” Northern Attack. 31 Oct. 2004. 11 Nov. 2008 <>.

1 thought on “Final Paper Proposal

  1. Jason Mittell

    This is a strong project, with a clear focus & relevant research questions. You should look at the literature on “mockumentary” as a film genre, as there are similar narrative strategies at play in those films. You should also think about how the show varies in its strategies of acknowledging or ignoring the camera at different times. Prof. Keathley is friends with a writer on the show, so he might be able to help you arrange an interview or at least email a few questions if you want. Good luck!

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