a take-home essay as described below, which counts as 40% of the exam grade and which is due in CANVAS by 11:59 pm on Monday, February 28
an in-class exam on March 1, which counts as 60% of the exam grade
For the Mid-Term Essay, you will write a review of one of the films described below that focuses on a particular individual or episode relating to slavery in the U.S. This essay should be written in standard, college-level English and should demonstrate your understanding of literary and historical terms as well as your skills in critical thinking.
Guidelines for Essay
Length: 1000-1200 words
Format: typed double-spaced, 12-point font, 1 to 1 inch margins on all sides (see Sample Film Review in CANVAS, as a model)
Page numbers: top right corner of each page
Heading: on page one, in the upper left corner, type your name, AMST 100, the date (see the example below)
Title: no separate title page; center title on page 1, preceding the first paragraph. [Titles should be catchy and should suggest the theme of your review. Think of your title as a miniature thesis.]
Works Cited: Document any quotations from your video or any other research cited in the paper according to MLA format (see http://guides.libraries.psu.edu/mlacitation (Links to an external site.)).
Submit on CANVAS in doc, docx, or pdf format
Organize your review as a formal essay: begin with an Introductory paragraph, which includes your thesis statement, followed by paragraphs offering evidence from the film to support your thesis; use logical, smooth transitions between paragraphs; and wrap it up with a Concluding paragraph. Put to use all of the writing skills you learned in ENGL 15 or ENGL 30.
Your thesis statement should provide your overall assessment of the films subject. Each paragraph should provide specific references from the film to support your evaluation. Consider that youre writing for readers who havent yet seen the film and will learn enough details from your review to know whether they want to see it. Quote from the film as needed.
For help in developing an outline and reviewing a rough draft, schedule an appointment with a tutor in the Writing Commons in the Eiche building, room 127: https://altoona.psu.edu/offices-divisions/academic-affairs/learning-resources-center/writing-commons (Links to an external site.).
Questions to Consider (Not all of these questions will be relevant, depending on the film you select and your overall evaluation of it.)
What is the central issue about slavery or enslaved individuals presented in this film?
What is the attitude conveyed by the narrator, the director, or the entire film itself?
Are the drama and the information presented credibly?
What comparisons, if relevant, do you find between this subject and our class readings and discussions about slavery thus far in the semester?
What overall interpretation about slavery and enslaved people does this film convey?
How much agency and independence do the enslaved characters have in this production? Are they presented entirely as passive victims, or do they take action along with the white characters to achieve their freedom, resist their enslavement, etc.?
Choose one of the films below for this assignment.
As shown, some films are available as a DVD on 7-day reserve for our class in Eiche library; others are accessible with the free link provided, which you can access if signed in with your PSU credentials; one mini-series is available only via an Amazon Prime account.
12 Years a Slave (on reserve in Eiche Library): 2013; directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Brad Pitt; based on the slave narrative of this same title, depicting the life of a free black musician who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the deep south; won the Academy Award for best picture
Amazing Grace (on reserve in Eiche Library): 2006; starring Ioan Gruffudd, Romola Garai, Albert Finney, Michael Gambon, Benedict Cumberbatch, Claran Hinds, Rufus Sewell; biographical drama about the British abolitionist effort and the slave ship captain who converted to antislavery and wrote the hymn Amazing Grace
Amistad (on reserve in Eiche Library): 1997; directed by Steven Spielberg; starring Djmon Hounsou, Anthony Hopkins, Matthew McConaughey, Morgan Freeman; based on the historic mutiny of a slave ship that took place in 1839 and ultimately led to a Supreme Court case that led to the African crews freedom
Band of Angels: 1957; Clark Gable, Yvonne De Carlo, Sidney Poitier; based on novel by Robert Penn Warren about a young privileged woman raised as white who learns that shes really an enslaved woman when her white father dies; https://digitalcampus-swankmp-net.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/psu279437/play/6b7ad4cf8330a6d0?referrer=details (Links to an external site.)
Django Unchained (on reserve in Eiche Library): 2012; directed by Quentin Tarantino; starring Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, Leonard DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Christoph Waltz; warning that like most (all?) Tarantino productions, this film is quite violent; also available at this link: https://digitalcampus-swankmp-net.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/psu279437/play/ea51c36ae430b5b4?referrer=details (Links to an external site.)
Emperor (on reserve in Eiche Library): 2020; Dayo Okeniyi, James Cromwell, Kat Graham, Bruce Dern; historical drama based on the life of Shields Green, one of the Black men who joined abolitionist John Brown and attacked the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia in 1859
Free State of Jones (on reserve in Eiche Library): 2016; starring Matthew McConaughey, Mahershala Ali, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Keri Russell; loosely based on the that revolted against the Confederacy during and after the Civil War; https://digitalcampus-swankmp-net.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/psu279437/play/8c3817b082482f86?referrer=details (Links to an external site.)
Freedom (on reserve in Eiche Library): 2014; starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., William Sadler, Sharon Leal, Terrence Mann; drama of two Black families before the Civil War, one that flees from Virginia to Canada, and the other story presenting the life of their African ancestor being brought to slavery in South Carolina
Glory (on reserve in Eiche Library): 1989; starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman; based on the historic African American Civil War regiment, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, that fought in the Civil War, including the famous assault on Fort Wagner, South Carolina in July 1863); also available at this link: https://digitalcampus-swankmp-net.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/psu279437/play/3bf7123da6810373?referrer=details (Links to an external site.)
Harriet (on reserve in Eiche Library): 2019; starring Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom, Jr., Joe Alwyn, Janelle Mone, H. Hunter Hall; dramatic rendering of the early years of Harriet Tubmans life and work for the Underground Railroad
A House Divided: Denmark Veseys Rebellion (on reserve in Eiche Library): 1982; starring Yaphet Kotta, Ned Beatty, Bernie Casey, Cleavon Little; television film based on the supposed conspiracy of an enslaved man who had planned a revolt in South Carolina in 1822
The Journey of August King (1995; Thandie Newton, Jason Patric; drama of a southern farmer deciding whether to aid an escaping enslaved woman in 1815; https://digitalcampus-swankmp-net.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/psu279437/play/815934d2d70f854b?referrer=details (Links to an external site.)
Prince among Slaves (on reserve in Eiche Library): 2008; starring Marcus Mitchell, Bruce Holmes, Dawn Ursula, John C. Bailey; historical drama presenting the capture and enslavement of a man from Africa to New Orleans in 1788
Roots (on reserve in Eiche Library): 1977, a mini-series starring LeVar Burton, Ben Vereen, OJ Simpson, Leslie Uggams; based on Alex Haleys 1976 novel that narrates the story of an African man captured and sold into slavery in Africa and then brought to North America; your essay can be based on any two or more episodes
Tula: The Revolt (on reserve in Eiche Library): 2013; starring Danny Glover, Obi Abili, Jeroen Krabbe, Deobia Oparei, Aden Gillett, Natalie Simpson; dramatizes a slave revolt on the Dutch island colony of Curacao that took place in 1795
The Underground Railroad (available on Amazon Prime if you have an account): 2021; a mini-series with 10 episodes; starring Thuso Mbedu, Joel Edgerton, Peter Ullan, Chase Dillon; based on the by Colson Whitehead; your essay can be based on any two or more episodes
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