Final Project Guidelines

Question Description


For your final project, you will develop topic out of one class module. You may choose to dive deeper into a topic by doing additional research, or you may choose to analyze one or more films.

  • Begin by deciding which module you found most interesting; 
  • Review the slides for that module;
  • Decide whether you would like to do more research related to the topic or analyze a film;
  • Decide whether you would like to do a written or a filmed essay;
  • Think about what questions the module raises and how you’d go about answering those questions;
  • Email me the following by March 3:
    • Which module you want to expand on
    • Whether you want to do a research or analytical project
    • Whether you want to do a written or a video essay
    • What questions you have come up with and ways you might answer the questions. (I’ll give you feedback!)

As a reminder, the class modules have covered the following:

  1. Sound and Image: An analytical paper might discuss Chion’s concept of “added value” in relationship to a film or films. How do filmmakers rely on the way our minds fuse images and sounds? What is the effect of “anempathetic” sound? Does anempathetic sound work differently if the source of the sound is mechanical (as in the Strangers on a Train clip) or human (as when Alex sings “Singin’ in the Rain” in A Clockwork Orange)? How does sound shape our perception of time in one or more films. (For example, in Fallen Angels (Links to an external site.), Wong Kar-Wai cross cuts between two separate lines of action that take place at different times in the same space. How does the sound shape our perception in this sequence?) A research paper might discuss other writings by Chion and how they have been or could be applied to film.
  2. The Sounds of Race and Gender: An analytical paper might analyze one or more films featuring crooners to think about mascuinity and the crooner. Is the crooner’s masculinity coded as a problem in the film? (Does the film suggest that he is insufficiently masculine because he sings love songs to women in a high voice?) If so, how is this problem resolved (Does he learn to be more manly? Does he lose out to a more masculine character?) If his masculinity is not coded as a problem, why not? Does this suggest that McCracken is wrong that crooners challenge American ideals of masculinity? Or, like Bing Crosby, has he made crooning more masculine? Or, if you’d rather talk about race and sound, you might analyze the use of sound in Hallelujah! research paper might look at the advertising and reviews for Hallelujah! to discuss how the film was marketed to white audiences. You might also look at the Black press (Links to an external site.) to see what Black writers had to say about the film. Or you might do a research project on one or more of the crooners McCracken discusses.
  3. Film Music: An analytical paper might discuss the use of music in King Kong or another film of the early 1930s. (For example, Blonde Venus or some of the early horror films, like Dracula and Frankenstein). A research paper might look into how people thought about film music in the early 1930s.
  4. Establishing Sound: An analytical paper might analyze the use of sound in an early film from the 1930s. Does it take a shot-by-shot approach to sound or a scene-by-scene approach? Both? How does the sound contribute to the film’s meaning? A research paper might look into how people thought about the sound track in the early 1930s.
  5. Magnetic Sound: An analytical paper might analyze the use of sound in a widescreen film from the 1950s (How to Marry a Millionaire, Laurence of Arabia, The Robe, etc.). Did the film make use of stereo? Or did sound play second fiddle to the spectacular image? A research paper might look deeper into what people were saying about stereo in the 1950s and why it didn’t catch on.
  6. Dolby Sound: An analytical paper might analyze the use of Dolby stereo in a film from the 1970s, such as Star Wars: Episode IV or Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A research paper might look deeper into the career of Walter Murch,  examine how Dolby stereo was discussed in the popular and/or the trade press in the 1970s, or find out more about the relationship between the development of sound in the music industry and in film.
  7. Dolby Stereo in the 1990s: An analytical paper might analyze the use of 5.1 sound in a film from the 1990s, such as The Matrix. a research paper might consider how Dolby was introduced to television and/or video games.
  8. Digital Sound and Atmos: An analytical paper might analyze the use of Atmos in a recent film. A research paper might consider how Atmos is being marketed in the contemporary film industry. Is Atmos associated with spectacle, in the way that magnetic sound was in the 1950s? Does it encourage experimentation, as Dolby stereo did in the 1970s?Final Project Guidelines: Written

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