Category Archives: Film Studies

CASE STUDY: Summative descriptive research


Objective: Summative descriptive research: widen discussion of specific theoretical areas to case study; synthesize and focus the research to new findings/conclusions.

SELECT: A musical theatre production that you have seen live on stage (not a movie version); a film (which could be a musical but on film) OR a television program (could be made-for tv movie or a tv series; if a series select ONE season for focus).

Your paper must be NO LESS than 1200 and NO MORE than 2000 words (8-10 paragraphs) (excluding the works cited page).

APPLY STRICT MLA FORMAT TO THE ENTIRE BODY OF THIS ACADEMIC PAPER. Use resources on library web page and librarians to make sure your whole paper is in MLA format. Don’t forget in-text citations!!!

You will write TWO versions. A DRAFT due June 22. Based on the feedback on your draft, you will REVISE and submit your FINAL on July 6.

USE HEADINGS (Introduction, (Concept), Cultural Synthesis, Conclusion)

Introduction (2- 3 paragraphs)

In one paragraph, introduce your reader to your performance. Include the name and medium of the performance; the production company; and the main story.

In the last paragraph, introduce readers to the main points to follow in your paper.

Concept Analysis (use the name of the concept) (3-4 paragraphs)

Identify and define ONE concept for analysis from the theories of spectacle, performance, historical/cultural context(s), adaptation, and/or convergence. Connect your selected analysis to specific examples from your chosen performance. Some sample concepts might be:


  • What are the restored behaviors in the performance? What are the functions and purposes of the performance? Schechner’s performance theory explains restored behaviors and how the function and purpose are often intertwined.
  • Consider how the elements of dramatic structure all combine to create spectacle. Use King for those Hollywood Blockbuster films.
  • Consider how the use of technology and convergence enhances and/or undermines the performance. Use both Jenkins and Schechner, also King and what happens when we move from small to large screens.

Historical/Cultural Context(s)

  • What are the historical or cultural roots of the performance? Use notes from lectures on the historical and cultural roots of the medium; provide specific examples of how are those roots seen in your particular performance.
  • What are the historical or cultural influences on uses of spectacle within the performance? Use King (if film) and his ideas about spectacle.
  • What are the historical/cultural functions and purposes of the performance? Schechner’s performance theory provides the theory for discussing these. Provide specific examples of how these are seen in your particular performance.


What is the original source? What are the ways that source is acknowledged/announced in the performance?

  • How does the choice of medium influence what is adapted – what is selected and/or deleted from the performance?
  • How is the audience reception of the performance informed by knowledge or lack of knowledge of the original? Consider the historical/cultural context of the original and how that informs the adaptation in your performance. Consider when the original was created and when your performance was created and discuss the similarities and differences.

Cultural Synthesis (3-4 paragraphs)

Explore the themes, thoughts, underlying content of your performance, and its position in contemporary popular entertainment. Using the readings, the lectures and the academic work of others, research your performance and draw insights and conclusions about the cultural impact and commentary of your performance. Look for critical writings about your performance itself, the genre of your performance, the medium in today’s society, etc.

Use the following questions to guide your thinking about this section. You do not have to answer each question.

  • Why is/was this performance popular with audiences? (for example, consider the time your performance was first seen as well as when you first saw it)
  • What does the performance and its popularity say about our culture? (for example, consider politics, society, individuals, relationships, everyday practices, and/or condition of our current world)
  • What important messages, either direct or indirect, are communicated about our current world through this performance? (for example, consider content, characters, themes, settings, etc)
  • What influences has the performance had on practices in entertainment? (consider casting, fashion, music, politics, relationships, themes)
  • What influences has the performance had on practices in everyday life? (for example, consider individuals, relationships, lifestyles, products)

Conclusion (1-2 paragraphs)

In one paragraph, offer your reader a summary of the key points in your paper. Offer the reader some further ideas that might warrant further investigation.

Works Cited Page (On a separate page from the paper)

Use MLA. [Visit “Library Tools” click on “Citation Style Guides” link and follow MLA’s guidelines for listing and formatting citations.]

You must include at least seven sources: One is the full citation of the performance you have selected for your Case Study; three from course readings and at least three new ones.

Remember: Wikipedia is not considered a valid academic source.



  1. FORMAT 5 pts

Correct use of MLA, spelling, grammar, proof reading, etc. USE IN TEXT CITATIONS.


Introduces readers to the performance and the overall paper

  3. CONCLUSION 4 pts

Please USE MLA format for your works cited page. Don’t forget to include the citation for your performance.


TOTAL                      DRAFT                      50 points

                                    REVISED FINAL    50 Points


Strategy for Writing

Read through the whole assignment.

Create an Outline before you write.

Works Cited Page As you are working, keep a running list of all sources (books, articles, webpages) you are using. Don’t worry about MLA (although if you can it is a good idea to start listing them that way).

Write a DRAFT following your outline.

Edit  Read through the draft and edit unnecessary and repetitive sentences. Go back and see if you’ve missed any important ideas.

Format  Add works cited page and all in-text citations. Check margins, headings – use MLA guide.

Proofread Check spelling and grammar. Read your paper out loud.

Finish Save as Word document or PDF and put in the dropbox on D2L.







  1. Introduction — write this AFTER you’ve written the rest of your outline. Introduce readers to your performance and the 6-8 main points you will discuss (see conclusion).
  2. Concept Analysis – decide on which one fits best for your performance. Some examples:

Performance/Restored Behaviors/Convergence/Spectacle – Action/Blockbuster Films

Historical/Cultural Context  – TV/Films/Live performance set in different times or places

Adaptation – TV/Films/Live performances adapted from well known books/articles

Once you’ve decided on the concept, organize your thoughts into 3-4 main paragraphs. For example:


1st paragraph: Discuss the restored behaviors and functions and purpose.

2nd paragraph: Talk about how the dramatic elements and how those contribute to the creation of spectacle.  Discuss how spectacle informs the Blockbuster.

3rd paragraph: Discuss how the audience receives the performance; how convergence heightens active participation and creates a collective intelligence.

  1. Cultural Synthesis – Review the questions; decide on what you think your performance is about (theme); consider also the characters/the players; the music; the spectacle.
  • Watch your performance again. What ideas jump out at you? Make some notes as you watch/think.
  • Look up when the performance was released/performed/played. What was going on in the culture at that time? Make some notes.
  • Read some critical pieces written about the performance soon after it was shown (if you can’t find your specific performance, try to look for kind of performance during that time).
  • Review the questions – and jot down some notes.
  • Organize all of your notes into 3-4 main paragraphs.
  1. Conclusion – write down the 6-8 main points from #2 and #3 above.







MLA Citations

Guidelines for Citing Performance for Case Study


Frozen River. Dir. Courtney Hunt. Perf. Melissa Leo, Charlie McDermott, and Misty. Upham. Sony, 2008, Film.

DVD or Streamed

Forster, Marc, dir. Finding Neverland. Perf. Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Radha Mitchell, and Dustin Hoffman. Miramax, 2004. DVD or Netflix or Hulu.


On Air

“The Blessing Way.” The X-Files. Fox. WXIA, Atlanta. 19 Jul. 1998. Television.

DVD or Streamed

“The One Where Chandler Can’t Cry.” Friends: The Complete Sixth Season. Writ. Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen. Dir. Kevin Bright. Warner Brothers, 2004. DVD or Hulu or Netflix.

Live performance

The Brothers Size. By Tarell Alvin McCraney. Dir. Bijan Sheibani. Young Vic Theatre, London. 15 Oct. 2008. Performance.

On Line Video (changeable)

Murphy, Beth. “Tips for a Good Profile Piece” You Tube, 7 Sept. 2008. Web. 19 Apr. 2009



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