Class, Culture, Representation

Documentary Film Analysis

Please write a 3-4 page paper (double-spaced) about a documentary film that addresses social class.  Essays can be longer if you need extra space.

Documentary films use a variety of methods (e.g., images, words, sounds, and various film techniques) in order to present an argument. View a documentary film and analyze the rhetorical and persuasive strategies employed by the filmmaker in the construction of the film’s argument. Identify the filmmaker’s thesis and analyze the rhetorical strategies and persuasive devices and film techniques used in order to develop the film’s thesis. Take notes as you view the documentary. Your essay should do all of the following:

1. Identify the film’s main argument and / or purpose.

2. Provide a brief summary of the film and the “main characters” in and “plot” of the film.

3. Examine how the film’s argument is supported through rhetorical and persuasive strategies (e.g., presentation of facts, dismissing credibility of counterfactual information, not addressing certain related issues, etc.).

4.  How does the structure of the film help achieve its purpose?

5. How valid is the argument? Does the argument contain fallacies, contradictions, or inconsistencies?


Suggested Documentary Films:

Harvest of Shame (Edward R. Murrow, 1960)

Seeing Red (Jim Klein and Julia Reichert, 1983)

American Dream (Barbara Kopple, 1990)

The Corporation (Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, 2003)

Morristown in the Air and Sun (Anne Lewis, 2007)

Capitalism: A Love Story (Michael Moore, 2009)

The Harvest/La Cosecha (U. Roberto Romano, 2010)

The Line (Linda Midgett, 2012)

Inequality for All (Jason Kornbluth, 2013)

Citizen Koch (Carl Deal and Tia Lessin, 2013)

Cesar’s Last Fast (Richard Ray Perez and Lorena Parlee, 2014)

Dogtown Redemption (Amir Soltani and Chihiro Wimbush, 2015)





Sites DOT MiddleburyThe Middlebury site network.