The topic of your paper is up to you, however, it must engage with the readings in some way. These are guidelines that will help you to devise the strongest paper possible. Regardless of your topic, you are expected to devise a thesis and argue for it with a coherent, organized, and well-supported discussion on the topic. The best topics will come from your own interests within the realm of documentary we have studied. You could focus on a particular filmmaker, trend, or topic that has been the focus of multiple films. You should be delving further into a particular aspect of documentary. You also want to choose your parameters with consideration for the length and scope of this paper. Your paper will be stronger the more clearly you articulate and justify your topic and your argument.
If possible, quote from these two books: Betsy A. Mclane, A New History of Documentary, 2nd Edition, Bloomsbury Press, 2012. Bill Nichols, Introduction to Documentary, 3rd Edition, Indiana University Press, 2017.
Devising a Thesis: While there is a range of suitable possible topics, all papers must have a thesis. A thesis statement is a sentence (or sometimes two) that provides the reader with the central argument of your paper. It makes a claim. As such, it must be contestable (someone could debate whether or not it is true) and specific. You are arguing a specific point-of-view. Keep in mind that a thesis statement explains to the reader what the paper will prove or demonstrate. It summarizes the central idea of the paper and can be defended by analysis and evidence gathered in research.
Structuring your Paper: Structure matters, and if you don’t have a strong structure, your grade will suffer. You are making an argument and should present a strategy to convince the reader of that argument. Make it clear when you are beginning a new example or idea, have clear transitions, and be sure to tie each of your points to your thesis. While you need to have enough substance to fill 5-7 full pages, papers are stronger when you concentrate on a smaller number of clear, well-explained examples and ideas rather than long lists. The goal of your paper should be to convince the reader to agree with your argument through your analysis and examples.
This paper requires you to use two readings and two sources from outside class, that are relevant to your topic. The sources you choose should help you to understand the existing ideas about your topic and/or add to your knowledge. Make sure that all sources are incorporated with your own ideas and help to prove your thesis. There are a wide variety of acceptable sources (see list below).
§ Acceptable Sources:
o Relevant books from academic publishers.
o Academic journal articles which engage with your topic directly.
o Academic journal articles which theorize documentary in ways that reflect your own argument.
§ Unacceptable Sources:
o Books or articles that do not address your topic or documentary in anyway.
o Articles that have only been published in web form such as those from Wikipedia or film websites.
o DVD extras, blogs, publicity materials, etc.
o Generally, sources found by doing a Google search.