Steven E. Alford is a professor of Humanities at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida


Your paper will make a comparison-contrast argument about the narrative and stylistic elements of two films related by topic.  Your focus will be on several of the following issues, which you shall choose: narrative structure, mis-en-scene, cinematography, editing, and sound.  Further instruction on how to complete your paper will be forthcoming later in the term.
In sum, to complete your paper you must do the following:

  1. choose a topic from a list and email me the topic
  2. watch a minimum of three films from a group I will send you via email following your choice of topic
  3. submit a set of three paragraphs for each film, described below
  4. submit your paper

In detail, completing your paper shall consist of the following steps:
(1)   You will pick either a genre or collection of films that appeal to you.  Examples of topics, along with a list of films, can be found at
If none of these groups appeal to you, or if you have another category in mind, email me and we can settle on something that you will find fun to work on.  Once you have settled on a genre or collection, email me your decision before the beginning of class on the date indicated on the syllabus.  The earlier you do so, the more time you’ll have to work on your paper!
(2)   Within a few days of receipt of your email, I will email you a list of five or more films.  I will endeavor to choose films available online (e.g., amazon, xfinity), Netflix, or at the theaters.  From this list you must choose three films to watch.  Within the next two weeks, locate and watch three of the films from the list I provide in my email response.  If you have difficulty locating the films in question, I will supply a list of additional films.  Feel free to suggest films you would like to work on, and I will consider whether to include them in the initial list.
(3)   Before the beginning of class on the date indicated on the syllabus, you must submit, via email, a written assignment.  For each of the three films, you shall submit a three-paragraph reaction.  Paragraph one will summarize briefly the main events in the film.  In paragraph two you will describe one or more elements of the film that you found interesting relative to the material we are studying in class.  Paragraph three will be a brief evaluation of the possibility of this film for a longer, analytical paper.  At some point you will indicate two of the three (or more) films you find most suitable for a longer paper.  (It would be to your advantage to complete these paragraphs as you watch each film.  Then you can simply assemble them and mail them.)  Consider preparing these paragraphs as you would your final paper, with attention toward grammar, mechanics, spelling, style, etc. A sample of these paragraphs can be found on the assignment page.
(4)   I will read your submission, evaluate it, and respond, suggesting that the film you have chosen is or is not acceptable for a longer paper.
(5)  You are strongly encouraged, but not required, to email me the argumentative thesis of your paper.  If you do so, I will make suggestions on how to improve your thesis.
(6)   You will email in a completed copy of the paper as an attachment before the beginning of class on the date indicated on the syllabus.
(7) How to submit your paragaphs and paper
           (a) Always identify yourself in the body of every email with your name (first and last) and the class you are enrolled in (e.g., FILM20001DY). 
           (b)  Make sure your email contains all the material relevant to the assignment in a single attachment, including, for example, the Certificate of Authorship.  Do not send multiple attachments with the expectation that the instructor will assemble them.
           (c) Before you send an attachment to the instructor, always send it to yourself first.  If you can open the attachment and it contains what you think it does, then send it along.
           (d) Never send multiple copies of the same email.  Before you send, pick the file you want to send and email only once.
            (e) Evaluated Paragraph and Essay Return: The evaluated paragraphs and essay will employ the "Track Changes" feature on Microsoft Word. When you look at your evaluated paper, choose "View/Print Layout" for the best way to see the instructor's comments.









Notes and observations:

(a)  These deadlines are final ones; you are encouraged to get to work on your paper immediately, and turn it in as early as your schedule permits.  Note that the penalties indicated for late work on the syllabus will be applied to your topic and/or paragraph assignments as well.  The final grade on your paper will consist of 20% of the grade on your paragraph assignment and 80% of the grade on your paper.  Points may be deducted, as appropriate, for late submission of the paragraphs and/or topics.

(b)  You may not use any film currently playing on cable television for your paper.  Only in exceptional circumstances will approval be granted to use such films, and only if permission is requested before turning in your paragraph assignment.

(c)   You may not use any films or any written work prepared for another class, including other film classes and/or gender studies classes.  If such work is turned in for this class, you will receive a zero for the paper.

(d)  Since your paper will be analytical in nature, there is little need for plot summary, except insofar as mentioning the plot is immediately germane to your argument. Extensive plot summaries will result in a poor paper, and hence, a below-average grade.