Reading and assignments
ENGL 101: Gaming: writing, technology, art
Assignment one: Summary Critique
DRAFT DUE: FRIDAY, 9/3
FINAL COPY DUE: WEDNESDAY, 9/8
Please write a 600-700 word summary-critique (on the long side of 2-3 pages) of the film, Avatar. Include a descriptive title (see below). Please use standard margins, font and double-spacing.
This is assignment has two parts: 1) Summary; 2) Critique (look closely at the overview below):
1) SUMMARY: Your opening summary is not an analysis; you will not make argumentative claims and back them up with quotations from your text. However, every summary is an act of analysis, in that you must choose which aspects of the text to include and which to leave out. Moreover, each of you may find a different “main point” in the film. You must guide us through your particular summary by presenting a specific focus. You should use your own words.
Here are some suggestions for structuring your summary
A. Structure your summary by considering how McCloud approached the form of comics. Summarize the film’s main point (your reading!), and then summarize some main examples and how they support the main point of the film. REMEMBER WHAT MCCLOUD SAYS ABOUT COMICS: we can read/tell a story in non-linear fashion. Begin with a point you want to make about the film and then use your examples from the film to inform your point.
When McCloud offers a SUMMARY of the history of comics, he doesn’t try to cover every event in the development of comics. He goes right to Egypt and hieroglyphs because THEY ALLOW HIM TO FOCUS ON HIS MAIN POINT ABOUT THE HISTORY OF COMICS (i.e. their special relationship to “sequential art”).
B. Write one paragraph that introduces the focus to your summary, then write one or two paragraphs with some examples from the film that support your focus.
One way to think of a critique is as a question that is posed about something. A critique often opens up a different way of considering an/a (object, idea, place, thought, practice, expression) that we take for granted.
Here’s an example of a summary:
Coastal Carolina’s architecture blends touches of contemporary design with the iconic pillars and porches of old southern mansions.
(Notice that this is mainly descriptive; but it has a focus too!)
Here’s an example of a critique:
Coastal Carolina’s architecture seemingly is caught between the atmosphere of the old plantation south and an emerging climate of contact between north and south, east and west, and old and new.
[Notice how this builds a bit on the summary to offer an argument. Also note that there is really a question posed here. Why? ]
Let’s jump right in and look at some critiques of Avatar:
**Notice the snappy titles. Your essay will have a snappy title too.
The second half of your essay will offer a critique of some aspect of Avatar, and because this is such a crucial part of the assignment (this “question” you pose will very likely inform your game idea, storyboard and design) will spend time in class developing more details and examples of how to structure your critique.