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African American History Final Exam Film Review/Research Assignment
This paper is your final exam and will be due on the last day of class.
The list of popular movies follows these directions. You must choose one film from this list to examine and connect to at least one of the themes covered in class. Refer back to the syllabus for the major themes and course objectives. The film will be one of your primary sources of your paper but should NOT be the only source you use to support your argument. Remember, the main subject of your paper is the major theme(s), not the film itself. The film is a SOURCE to explain your understanding of the theme and how the film conveys this theme. This paper should include other sources, specifically sources from our course and some outside research meeting the parameters listed below. The more sources you include, the stronger your paper will be.
Reading the Film:
Remember, this paper is not a summary of the plot of the film, but rather an examination of the message conveyed in the film as it relates to the major themes covered during our semester. You are expected to clearly document the theme(s) within the paper using the film as a piece of evidence of that theme. You should also include an examination of the historical accuracy and why this may or may have been modified using artistic license. Think about who produced and/or directed the film. Is it through the lens of the African American, or the Caucasian? Does this affect the film’s accuracy? Is the film biased in its portrayal of the characters? Also take into consideration when the film was released as this is relevant to the message that the film is conveying. All of this will help you to “read” the film, rather than merely watch the story.
Writing the Paper:
Start your paper with a general introduction that offers the reader some background into the major themes to which your movie will relate. Then follow through with a connection to your film choice and tie your intro into the thesis statement.
The body of your paper should give specific examples and evidence relating the film to the themes along with evidence from class materials and your own outside research. The more evidence, the stronger your paper will be.
Finish your paper with a conclusion that goes beyond summarizing your paper but instead analyzes the importance of the message of the film. Relate the film and its message to contemporary settings. Why was the film released at this particular time? Why are these themes relevant to the release date? Are the themes still relevant to major socio-political issues of today?
You may use any of the sources provided to you, including the textbook and any readings we have reviewed during our course, class notes/presentations/activities, and your own outside research along with the movie as your sources. Outside research is strongly encouraged. Make sure to use reliable, academic sources. The library databases are strongly encouraged including but not limited to Facts on File, African American History Online, J-Stor, Opposing Viewpoints, The New York Times database. Any cinema studies academic film reviews are also acceptable and you are likely to find at least one on J-Stor. You may NOT use online sources such as History.com or Wikipedia or any online movie reviews for this paper. If you are unsure what is a reliable academic source, consult the reference librarian in the Middlesex County College Library for research assistance.
Please remember to cite any quotes or paraphrased ideas from your sources. Any citation style is acceptable as long as it is consistent throughout the essay.
This paper should be roughly 6 to 8 pages, 12 point font, double spaced with a works cited page. However, please do not get caught up in page length and do not repeat your statements just to fill space. This number is a guideline only. Quality is more important than quantity, but you must be specific and detailed and provide evidence. The expectation is roughly a 6 to 8 page paper to make an appropriate examination of the film using supporting research and evidence, but if you submit a quality paper that is less than 6 pages or more than 8 pages, you will not be penalized.
The final exam essay should be submitted via CANVAS before the last day of class. Late submissions will not be accepted. The final exam paper is worth 100 points.
Essays which demonstrate an excellent command of the material and clearly, completely, and accurately connect the film to the major themes covered in class with cited evidence a wide variety of source materials will earn all available points.
Essays which demonstrate an adequate command of the material and make adequate connections using some evidence will earn some points.
Essays which merely summarize the plot and/or make minimal connections to the themes with little to no supporting evidence will earn minimal points.
No points will be earned for incomplete essays or those without a basic understanding of the class themes and materials.
No points will be earned for papers that are plagiarized and violate the College Academic Integrity Policy.
Late essays will not be accepted as this is the final exam.
All essays must be typed in 12-point font, double spaced —no hand-written submissions will be accepted.
12 Years a Slave (2013)
Black Panther (2018)
The Help (2011)
Boyz in the Hood (1991)
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Django Unchained (2012)
Get Out (2017)
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
The Cotton Club (1984)
The Great Debaters (2007)
A Soldier’s Story (2015)
Mississippi Burning (1988)
Heavens Fall (2006)
KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL FINAL PAPER
Film papers are worth 100 points. Papers should be roughly 6 to 8 pages, typed, and double-spaced. Since you will be graded on form as well as content, remember to provide an organized (introduction, main points, conclusion) and clearly-written (proper spelling, proper grammar, NO TYPOS) paper. Please make sure to run spelling and grammar check and READ over your paper BEFORE you hand it in. If you’re not confident in your own proofreading abilities ask someone else to read it over for you and/or visit the Writing Center in the campus Library for proofreading/editing assistance.
The purpose of the paper is for you to convey your understanding of the major themes presented during the semester. You will be graded on how well you connect the film and your other sources to these major themes and, equally important, the manner in which you present your evidence through your academic writing. At all cost please avoid stream-of-consciousness writing. Remember, you still must organize your thoughts and write in a formal academic essay format. Begin the paper with a thesis or topic sentence, provide several paragraphs of support for your argument including specific reference to both the film and course materials/research, and then wrap up with a conclusion that goes beyond what you have already written.
A consistent use of direct examples from the film and course materials/research is strongly recommended. Outside research is encouraged given the parameters given above, specifically academically acceptable and reliable sources. Take notes while watching the film, especially those which directly connect the film to the major theme(s) to which you are connecting your film.
BE CAREFUL! The internet is full of information regarding the films and our class themes in general. Avoid them at all cost. Any evidence you use must come from reliable and academically acceptable sources or materials provided in class. And a word of caution, submitting the work of others as your own will result in automatic failure of the assignment, which WILL NEGATIVELY impact your final grade. NO EXCEPTIONS.
When using quotes, follow this rule of thumb: “Is the author/speaker stating or writing something unique or is it something I could just as easily state myself?” Usually you quote if the statement is colorful in language or tone, or presents new and unique information.
Bad quote: “The Holocaust was bad.” [no need to quote here, this is something that’s obvious and you can state yourself.]
Good quote: “The smoke from the crematoriums billowed like clouds of death.” [conveys vivid imagery]
Good quote: “In one day, the gas chambers at Auschwitz could handle 12,000 victims.” [specific and new information that cannot be considered general knowledge.] (p.s. all of these quotes are made up.)
Maintain balance. This paper is your historical reflection on the film you chose within the parameters of the class themes. There is also a research element to this assignment and you are strongly encouraged to include some outside research from reliable academic sources. Be sure to include sources from the film, your research, AND our course materials. This is an evaluation of your understanding of the major themes covered in class, the materials evaluated during our semester, and your own research methodology in finding additional appropriate sources in support of your understanding of our course themes.
This is not intended to be a movie review. DO NOT MERELY SUMMARIZE THE PLOT OF THE MOVIE, but rather analyze the movie in historical context and make clear connections to the major overarching themes as well as to the historical accuracy of the film and, most importantly, its message in contemporary context.
This paper is your final exam and will be due on the last day of class.
The list of popular movies follows these directions. You must choose one film from this list to examine and connect to at least one of the themes covered in class. Refer back to the syllabus for the major themes and course objectives.