Reading Film Assignment #1: Diagramming Difference

Some of your fellow Queens College students want to start a film club, but they need approval from three professors in the English Department. Since you are equally interested in film and writing, these professors have turned to you for help, asking you to prepare a short presentation explaining the similarities and differences between film and writing, so they can decide whether or not film is enough like writing to justify adding a film club to the English Department.

Your task is to prepare a written speech with an accompanying diagram that describes three ways the medium of film is and is not like the medium of writing. Your diagram might take the form of a pie chart, bar graph, Venn diagram, Carroll diagram, semiotic square, flowchart, or other graphic system of organization.

Audience: English professors wondering about the value of studying or learning about film

Format: 3-4 pages, MLA style

Advice: Write your 3-4 page analysis as if you will read it to the professors; it should explain and discuss your diagram. In comparing and contrasting film and writing, you should consider differences in any three of the following topics that would be important to English professors: motive, analysis, evidence, key terms, structure, or any other of Harvey’s “Elements of the Academic Essay.” Remember: you have not made up your mind and are only being asked to present a written speech on how the two media are and are not similar.


Type: Develop an argument to analyze the tension between two primary texts. (This assignment is a variation in which the categories “film” and “writing” are taken as the primary texts.)

Rationale: This assignment gives the students practice making critical arguments about “texts.” While the categories of film and writing are not truly texts, the assignment requires a similar sort of critical engagement and sets the ground for later tasks by requiring the students to engage both categories as forms of composition, while recognizing the specificities of the different media.

Pre-Draft Activities:

  1. Write 2-3 paragraphs arguing “what makes a film a film”;
  2. Write 2-3 paragraphs arguing “against” film or writing;
  3. Write 2-3 paragraphs identifying Harvey’s elements in a film and in an essay

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