Week 8 Guide: Friday Writing Assignment

What are the theses argued by Harmetz and Robertson, and how scholarly are these two sources?  Look at their use of primary source evidence, reference to other scholars, citation of sources, etc. How would you compare them as scholars?  In class, we will discuss Casablanca and the use of secondary sources, especially these two views of the film's creation and the process by which its final scene was written. How do Robertson and Harmetz view the film's use of dramatic conventions, type-characters, and audience expectations?  How do they describe the film's illusory views of reality and the real current political situation in which it appealed to its audience?  How do they explain the plot's possible conclusions, the process by which the final version appeared, and what factors brought it about?  Look at the dates of their work—what might more recent scholarship on the film debate about this film and what kinds of theoretical or cultural issues might drive the debate? 

        This web page collects some important information about their disagreement regarding the film's creation and its significance for our interpretation of the actors' performances.   It also has links to a page containing important principles for resolving disagreements among your best sources.  For various reasons, scholars do tend to disagree at various points, while holding a large "centering" set of agreements which keep them within the same discipline.  In upper division study, one of the most important tests you will be assigned is the evaluation and attempted resolution of such scholarly disputes.  That, in turn, is the gateway to the most commonplace activity in graduate studies in many disciplines.

        After we have established which of those two sources should be trusted about Casablanca's final scene, you can take over directing our review of the film to develop your potential patterns of evidence for the film paper.

        Post to the GoucherLearn discussion board a non-obvious pattern of evidence you have noticed in the film and an explanation of what you think the pattern may mean.  Be sure to indicate the "minute:second" counter for each piece of evidence, as well as giving context in which it occurs, to enable your readers to locate it in the film.  This is a basic video citation skill.  For example, many scenes involve Rick drinking, but only one could be described as:

"Rick, drinking late at night after he has met Ilsa in Laszlo's company, tells Sam to 'Play it' as the shot dissolves into the 'Paris Flashback' (38:15)."

        The evidence you are looking for in the movie could be in the plot (episodes, scenes, action), characterization, camera work, dialogue, music, cutting/montage, acting, costuming and set design, or any other source of data based in the primary source, the film, itself.  I will try to respond to the postings as quickly as I can, but you should see something in your inbox by the next  class.  I will post a single message containing excerpts from your posts and my replies to acknowledge particularly insightful work or to warn against potentially dangerous misunderstandings.  I encourage you to read the entire class's postings before watching The Third Man.  It will make you a more attentive and wise viewer.  Please be sure to title your posting as you would a paper--something to distinguish its contents from all the others and not "Casablanca" or "Film Posting"! 

        Before you post the evidence pattern, also remember to check it against the script for the movie, available here: Screenplay. That  will enable you to determine whether Epstein, Epstein, and Koch wrote what you are seeing first, or whether it was the creation of the director (Curtiz), cameraman (Edeson), or the music director (Steiner).

        If you want to get ahead in your research and look for some scholarly sources to help your analysis, this is a list of acceptable journals in print and online.