• The assignment
  • Create Your Own Movie Canon

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    Popular Culture

    Instructor Mark Singleton

    Mentor Chris Ross

    Spring 2004

    Create Your Own Movie Canon
    There is a notion of culture that includes the idea of cultural currency that we have common experiences, common points of references, and common objects and events that act to position us in our culture. We use this cultural currency to operate as members of society, spending it in our relationships as we move about the world. We trade this currency to create common grounds on which dialog occurs, to signal membership in various groups, both professional and personal; and in ways that create new knowledge and modify or add to existing knowledge.
    Our cultural output is what constitutes this currency that we trade, but many debates form around the value of certain types of currency over others. We have talked about the high/low culture division in class. Many people feel that the only currency of value is that of the Western canon in both literature and art, degrading any forms of mass culture such as TV, movies, or contemporary music. Some claim it is the currency of this narrowly defined canon that defines us as a culture and little else, or rather that it is this canon that should define us and nothing else.
    The assignment: Make a list of movies (at least ten, but as many as you want) that you feel everyone should see.
    Base the list on your own personal experience and what movies you have seen, not from some list you've seen somewhere of best movies, or movies you feel you ought to have seen but haven't.
    List the movie, date of release, and 2-3 sentences on why you chose the movie and why you feel it is an important work that should be seen by everyone. Reasons can vary from the movie advancing special effects, contributing to the art of film making in various ways, participation in social criticism, advancement of a philosophical, social, or political cause, or any number of other things.


    In this way, you will be creating your own canon, those movies that you feel are cultural currency as you move through society as an interactive member spending your currency. In an ideal world, we all would see these movies so that we could exchange ideas in the cultural marketplace. Your next step would be to convince everyone that they need to see you movies, in much the same way that people are constantly trying to convince us as a nation that we, as individuals, should read certain books.
    Use an MLA name block and the following format for your list.
    1. Movie Title (in italics or underlined), date of release: (followed by your 2-3 sentence explanation)
    [The date of release of any movie can be found at http://www.imdb.com, The Internet Movie Database.]
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