War and Postwar: Masculinity, Disability, and Community in Frank Capra’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

As the first essay in a short, intensive class that covers a range of different topics and material, this is a short paper in which I ask you to apply a few of the key concepts from the ‘additional materials’ readings attached to one or two moments and/or characters or conflicts from Frank Capra’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. The paper is to be double-spaced, with 12-point font-sized text.

Whichever topic you choose, your analysis must explicitly incorporate the arguments of at least two of the attached texts and one of the suggested texts. In this case, the Sahn article is the main text you draw a few key concepts but at least one or two concepts must be lifted from the Wetta and Novelli reading.

You dont need to summarise the entire argument from a particular author, but you are expected to introduce a key concept or termby paraphrasing or quotingthat is relevant to your analysis. The texts should be given greater weight than the film, which serves as an illustration or an example of the concepts addressed in the texts.

Keep the following in mind:

Consider what these terms or concepts say, not only about the film at hand, but about broader cultural or social issuesof the historical context and/or beyond. Let this serve as the foundation for your own argument.

These short papers require concision, so it is important to keep your focus narrowgo for breadth rather than depthand that you clearly indicate in the thesis paragraph (the first or second paragraph in the paper):

the central terms, concepts, or arguments from the academic texts that you will expand upon in the following paragraphs (briefly introduce them first);

why you find these particular aspects important or interestingwhat they may say about culture or society in the past or present;

and/or how you would like to challenge or expand upon these claims by applying them to the particular example/s from the film;

finally, you may also want to explain your reason for addressing the example/s from the film (other than that is the one we watched for class!)what might make it unique, or a representative illustration of the topic at hand?

Dedicate the following couple of paragraphs to an overview of the relevant academic texts. It is often best to paraphrase the authors overall argument and then state your own position in relation to theirs. If there is a particular quote you would like to use, briefly provide the context and then follow up on such quotes, stating what you think the author may mean by this and/or how this applies to what youre exploring in the paper.

Once your argument and supporting academic texts have been presented, address the example/s from the film as precisely as possible. You may use a sentence or two to set up a scene or to describe a characters role in the narrative, but dont provide a complete plot summary. Focus on those aspects of a scene, conflict, or character that most specifically illustrate the broader issues. Many of the texts weve read have excellent examples of this approach. A strong film analysis often considers how the language of cinema (what we see/hear on screen) encapsulates issues that lie well beyond this specific instance on screen. Often, close descriptions can provide insights into what the film seems to be saying about a particular character, concept, etc.

Finally, your conclusion should not simply list everything that you presented in the previous paragraphs, but should present, somewhat surprisingly, the (perhaps ambiguous) implications of what youve explored, and even the ways in which this opens up the conversation for further consideration.

This should be the structure of the paper:

1.Thesis Paragraph

Maps out what you want to say (your argument) and how you will say it (your method), including both the supporting text/s and terms, and examples from the films.

2.Terms, Quotes, or Supporting Texts

Lays out the key relevant concept/s from your source, and reiterates how you will applyor challengethese with your examples.

3.Example 1

If necessary, provide a brief, one-or two-sentence context for your example. In around two sentences, describe all relevant aspects of the example, using the formal terms. In a couple of sentences, elaborate on its relevance to your thesis and central concepts.

4.Example 2

Same as example 1, but perhaps referencing first example as a counterpoint.


With  the  supporting  concepts,  ties  the  two  examples  together  into  a  synthesis  (a  new  idea  or  insight  that emerges through this juxtaposition). It does not restate the thesis paragraph (which tells the reader where we are going), and does not list the points the covered in the previous paragraphs, but provides a sense of closure while alsoparadoxicallysuggesting new spaces to explore.

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