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ENGL 117 -- FILM AS LITERATURE -- Kayzakian

Search terms

Have a list of keywords / search terms ready!

Before your start searching--whether for books, articles, or reliable content on the open web--make sure you're clear about what exactly you hope to find. Look closely at your assignment topic or research question, and create a list of words and concepts that are useful for searching--then keep adding to it!

Here's one way to phrase a research question for this assignment...

How does the mise-en-scene of [your-choice-of-one-film] reflect cultural, social, or political implications?

The main concepts in this question include the words: mise-en-scene, cultural, social, political, and implications. Plus--of course--whatever film you've chosen to focus on.

For each main concept, create a list of synonyms, related terms, and alternate spellings. Often a thesaurus can be helpful with this step.

Examples of search terms useful for this assignment:

  • mise-en-scene: environment, milieu
    Also try separate searches for the different aspects related to mise-en-scene, such as...
    narrative structure, plot themes ideology (Panopticism, Marxism, Feminism)
    characters mood, atmosphere screenplay/script (tone, voice, style)
    dialogue setting  
  • cultural: culture, lifestyle, conventions, style
  • social: society, community, trends, trending, norms, values, morals
    Also--you can focus on a sub-division of society that relates to the film you've chosen...
    women, feminism; Black, African-American; Latinx, Latino, Chicano; Asian-American, Korean;
    teenagers, adolescents, youth; etc.
  • political: politics, policies, activism, protests, protesting, advocacy

  • implications: influence, impact, effect, legacy, significance

  • the genre associated with your film. Double check on Wikipedia or IMDB to identify the bigger category of cinema that your film falls within. Examples... 

    • Us > horror, thriller

    • Parasite > drama, satire

    • Avengers > superhero film, action, adventure

  • the director (a.k.a. auteur) associated with your film. Examples...

    • Us > Jordan Peele; Parasite > Bong Joon Ho; Avengers > Joss Whedon

You'll need to experiment with different combinations of search terms to see what terms gain the most useful results. It helps to have a few options to start with--not just the words first mentioned in the assignment topic or research question.


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