Thinking about Film

Month: March 2020

Study Question Teams

Hello Cinéphiles!

As part of our remote learning, I’m going to require you to turn in answers to the study questions for the readings. You will answer these questions in teams. Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Each team should create a google doc on which to record your answers. That way, everyone can participate in answering the study questions.
  2. The study question responses will be due before class the day that reading is listed in the syllabus. For example, the study questions for the Delollio article will be due before class on Thursday, Apr. 2nd. Email me links to the google docs for your team.
  3. Team leaders will be in charge of coordinating communication within the teams. I don’t care what communication means you use: Zoom sessions, texting, email, telephone, etc. You needn’t use the same method of communication for every reading; some members might prefer one or the other, so switching up is probably a good idea.
  4. EVERY TEAM MEMBER SHOULD PARTICIPATE IN ANSWERING QUESTIONS FOR EVERY READING. You may not just assign each team member one of the readings and leave it at that. At the end of the semester, each team member will grade his or her fellow members on participation, so that you will all be accountable to one another.

The teams and team leaders are listed below:

The Cuarons

Alex Finley (team leader)

Liam Lassiter

Claire Silverman

Sean Zollner


The Farhadis

Kai Aweau

Whitney Clark

Mariah Charlton (team leader)

Marty Durkin


The DuVernays

Kyle Gardner (team leader)

Matt Laforteza

Ruofan Jiang

Wendy Yu


The Peeles

Luke Crawford (team leader)

Aidan Doyle

Jackson Engstrom

Daniel Kunath


The Bongs (and no laughing about the fact that this team is the bongs)

Ben DeLemos

Eamonn McDonald

Will Shapiro

John Wisdom

David Kelly, “Narrative and Narration in John Ford’s *The Searchers*”

Two quotes for class today:

“In a similar way, the framing devices of The Searchers announce Ford’s intention in this film to inquire into the mythic character and idealizations of the West, here not in a spirit of nostalgic celebration but rather one of literally searching examination. It is an inquiry that begins with Ethan Edwards and our acceptance of the image as it appears on the screen; we don’t begin to look again, to search that image, until Marty lets us know that this is precisely what he has begun to do at the beginning of the second act, which opens once again with the classic interior-exterior shot.” (182)


“The story of the American West has always had two contradictory aspects: pathfinding and settlement, and the virtues of westward expansion (which include rebellion, outlawry, non-conformity, self-reliance, and rugged individualism) are not necessarily the virtues of settlement, union, and nationhood (which require the values of tolerance, community, the rule of law, the acceptance of human equality, and, by extension, the acceptance of racial hybridity). At a discursive level, Ethan and Marty separately put into play these two generic understandings of the national story. Against the austerity of Ethan’s epic vision of heroic white individualism, manifest destiny, and the singular bloodline the film juxtaposes Marty’s skeptical chronicle of democratic civility, with its rituals of social cohesion and familial growth, its comic breadth and suspicion of the heroic, and its celebration of inter-racial relations. One is the story of taming the savagery without, the other of taming the savagery within, but one cannot cherry-pick the past, and the film recognizes that the latter cannot come to pass without the former.” (199)

–David Kelly, “Narrative and Narration in John Ford’s The Searchers,” Sydney Studies in English 36 (2010): 170-201.

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