Imitation of Life


Close Reading Paper 2: Imitation of Life

Assignment: Write a 5-6 page paper in which you argue for a particular perspective on Imitation of Life: John Stahl’s version, Douglas Sirk’s version, or both. Include at the end of your paper an outline that states your thesis statement and subpoints in complete sentences.  

Sources: You must incorporate—in significant ways—an argument made by 1-3 of the following film scholars: Jeremy Butler, Hiram Perez, Valeri Smith, Karen Bowdre, or Matthew Bernstein/Dana White. You can find these journal articles under the menu tab marked “Readings on Imitation of Life.” Summarize and/or quote the author’s key points, referring to specific page numbers in parentheses. Here is the link to the article.

At the end of your essay, list your sources, including the movies, in alphabetical order, using MLA or APA format. Follow the guidelines for writing a paper that I provided last week under the tab “Avoid Plagiarism! Conventions of Academic Writing.”

Supporting your argument: Discuss specific shots or scenes to support your points. Consider the following:

  • Scenes referred to (but not closely analyzed) by one or more of the film scholars you read
  • Shots or scenes with staircases, mirrors or shadows
  • Opening and closing shots of movies, title credits
  • Specific moments between characters that the two movies share in common

Paper Structure: Alternate paragraphs summarizing an author’s concepts or critical perspectives with paragraphs in which you apply those concepts or perspectives to the film(s). Make sure the reader knows when you are presenting the ideas of another vs. when you are providing your own insights.  Move back and forth between the voices of your sources and your own interpretation. This alternation will make for a nicely paced, easy to read paper!


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