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Film and Television

This guide provides resources for those who wish to explore various aspects of film and cinema.

Research Tips

Writing about films and television can be tricky.  You can concentrate on so many different aspects of the medium that getting started can be difficult.  Here are some tips to help you get started.

  1. Ask yourself if you want to concentrate on a technical aspect, consider theories related to film or television, or present a criticism of a film or television show.  It is important to narrow your focus early on, as there are thousands of articles on film and television, and you need to be able to concentrate on one aspect.
  2. Use the SCC databases to help you find articles.  Make sure to click on "Full Text" and "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals."  There are several wonderful, professional journals for television and cinema.
  3. If you focus on technical aspects, such as editing, you will want to focus your research on just that component.  Maintain your focus, even when there are interesting articles on other topics.
  4. If you are interested in an approach using theory, you will want to narrow down your focus.  Are you focusing on psychological components, sexuality, racism, socioeconomic factors, etc.?  Once you have decided on the focus, then you will need some search terms.  For example, you might be interested in psychological components, and you might use the term "scopophilia" (love of looking) and how this equates to "voyeurism" and "exhibitionism".  You might consider how countries are creating national identities through the production of films, so one of your search terms might be "postcolonial."  You could even consider Marxist theory in relation to cinema.  It is important to have several search terms in mind when conducting any research, but most especially research on specific theories.
  5. Sometimes you might not find a theory mentioned in relation to a particular film or show that you wish to analyze.  If that happens, use general articles on the theory and then relate them to the film or show yourself.  You might have a truly original idea!
  6. If you are providing a critique of a particular movie or show, it is important to keep the language neutral and try not to be inflammatory, as this often makes your readers tune out and not read the rest of your paper.  You also want to make sure that your critique is balanced.  You want to acknowledge multiple sides of whatever issue you are focusing upon, and then make clear the side that you are taking.
  7. Make sure that you have a clear and concise thesis statement.  Otherwise your readers won't know what your are arguing.
  8. Make sure to write down where you got your quotes using page numbers or paragraph numbers.  It's a pain having to go back and find these later, so save yourself some time and trouble and record them when you are actually doing the research.  When you download the PDFs of articles, remember that you can use the sticky note and highlighting features.  Similarly, if you prefer to print out articles, make sure to take notes, highlight/underline, etc..
  9. Once you finish reading an article, write a one sentence summary of the article.  This will help you remember which article was about which topic or subtopic.
  10. Don't forget to analyze.  Sometimes the topic is so interesting that you forget that you are supposed to be analyzing the arguments being made.  Try not to fall into that trap.  Take a step back and try to look how the argument is made and why that argument is either persuasive or not persuasive.
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