Review Essay Guidelines
The assignment is to write a 3-page review essay, for a film, due on Sunday night of the week each film is assigned.
Your essay should explore themes of power and justice depicted in the film, drawing on the theories and practices exploredduring the prior week. Obviously, you will have more material to draw from as the course proceeds, and you are welcome and encouraged to draw on materials from earlier weeks, if they are helpful to you.There is lots of room for creativity here. The goal is an interpretive essay, that links the film to the materials of our course –demonstrating to us that the materials are tools in your interpretation.
In your essay, be specific and give examples / scenes from the film that effectively illustrate the conceptsyou discuss in the essay.Your essays canalso include some personal reflectionon the larger meaning of the film, in the context of current events.
Essays should be 12pt font, double-spaced. Citations to course material should be parenthetical –for example (Douglassp. 13). You can use brief quotations, but are discouraged from using long block quotations which consume too much space. It is your voice we are most interested in hearing! The creative dimension of the essay is how you connect the materials we are exploring in class to the themes and actions of the film.To get you started, please find some questions and provocations below. You do not have to respond to these(you can if you want!), but hopefully they can point you in fruitful directions.
13th is a timely critical history of the American criminal justice system. Here, you are asked to take a larger view of the film’s significance, connecting it to the themes of power and justice throughout our course. You have great latitude here. You can focus on themes of authority and discipline, as depicted by DuVernay in practices of law enforcement and incarceration. You can focus on public opinion and complicity –for example how the “war on drugs” worked on public perceptions. You can focus on how the film itself constitutesan act of resistance? What are Ava DuVernay’s justice claims? Does she propose a Path Forward? What does that look like? You have great latitude in this paper, but be sure that you communicate clearly to your reader in the opening paragraph, what you intend to do.
Course material are attached, no need to read them all, just mention some of them in the essay and used for citation.
Some other Course materials:
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty – Chs 1-3
Frederick Douglas, The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro
Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience