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We come to the third and final of the three original essays you are to write (the encyclopedia essay and the scene analysis being the other two), one that engages the research questions and broader issues of the course in some significant way. You have written about history; you have written about a film; now write about the relation between history and film. This essay should use your film to discuss cinematic history in the general context of issues raised by the function of history itself in the culture at large. The issue essay is, in many ways, the capstone of your project.

Perspective: In the historical context essay, you assumed the role of historian recording real facts. In the scene analysis essay you were asked to be a literary scholar analyzing what you see as the structure of a scene. Your identity in this essay is more that of a public intellectual reflecting on the role this film as a whole plays in the dynamics of culture:

Approach: What to write about? The topics should be yours, should come from the inside out. You must decide; you must choose what to write about. For our site to be successful as an academic resource, however, you must as much as possible address issues current in the academic community. We recommend five resources designed to familiarize you with the cultural conversation and contest over the nature and role of history in general and the value and role of history on film in particular:

  1. James W. Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me, which sees heroification as a major villain and which focuses on the "lies" told in the name of History (could your film be used as a specific example in one of his chapters or in a similar one?)
  2. Robert Brent Toplin's History by Hollywood, with its four rubrics for cinematic histories (13) and its eight case studies as models for your essays (does your film fit one of his types, or could you create another one?)
  3. The research questions -- a battery of questions taken from major scholars in the field that is designed to open up fertile areas of thought (which questions resonate with your film?)
  4. The sound bites -- over 500 selections from about 100 of the main and diverse voices engaged in the controversy over the place of history in our culture and the nature and value of cinematic history (which ones capture your attention?)
  5. The selected and general bibliographies -- a collection of examples of the various material most closely related to our project (do you see something in this compendium of information that suggests a structure or a starting point?)

Some general points to consider:

For the scene analysis and issue essay we will want to think about what adjustments we need to make in both structure and form when we write essays for the web as opposed to writing on paper: