The Final Project
The projects were posted on wikispaces, and to put my work where my mouth was, I created a complete project as a model, based on "My Best Friend's Wedding." Students had a complete example to look at, as well as some specific prompts for what they should touch on: alternate quotes from the play with screen shots from their film, make sure they give adequate context for each, and make sure that their analysis went past simple character comparisons and delved more deeply into the themes from our brainstorm.
To create their introductions and thesis statements, I gave them the following questions in the drafting portion of the project:
- Which of the seven focus areas for this assignment are you "zooming in" on?
- In at least two sentences, give the context of both the play and the movie here--introduce the specific plot points of each that you will be focusing on.
- What statement can you make about "Taming of the Shrew" that relates to this focus area?
- What statement can you make about your selected movie that relates to this focus area?
- In a few sentences, describe how these two statements compare/contrast. What do they have in common, and what is obviously different? This is the core of your essay--it shows how audiences have changed (or not) over time.
Snapshots from different student projects are visible in the gallery above. One of the joys of this project is that students have the freedom to choose films that they had already connected with. Though some students initially complained that they just didn't watch romantic comedies, it only took a little brainstorming to find a film with a sufficient romantic plot. Popular selections included "The Proposal" and "Why Did I Get Married?," but students also developed quality analysis of films ranging from "Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay" to "Amelie." This also gave students flexibility to choose a text that they felt spoke more to their own life experience, be that based on race, gender, or even their style of humor.
In their selection, students were bringing their analysis much closer to home. By asking them to turn their critical lens on a film they knew, I was also hoping that they would be able to turn the lens on themselves and modern society.
That last piece was much harder than I expected.