Response Paper

To provide sufficient responses, you should write ​between 3 to 5 paragraphs​ for each question.

➔ This exam is open-book. You can and should use your notes. Indeed, ​complete responses will include specific examples from ​any​ of content you read/watched for Unit 2, ​including:

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➢ Karen L. Cox, “Dixie on Film,” from ​Dreaming of Dixie​. (2017)

➢ Paul Gardullo, “Spectacles of Slavery: Pageantry, Film and Early Twentieth-Century

Public Memory.” (2013)

➢ Franklin, John Hope, “”Birth of a Nation”: Propaganda as History.” ​(1979)

➢ The documentary,“​Birth of a Movement​,” 2017.

➔ Use proper citations for all quoted material (MLA, APA, or Chicago citations are acceptable). As a rule of thumb, it is important not to use long quotations (defined as anything over three lines typed) without also using your own words to describe why the quotation is significant.

➔ You can write your responses in a more informal voice (using “I” for example), but that does not mean your writing should be full of opinion or anecdotal comments. I am looking for you to reflect meaningfully on the questions.

➔ Your responses need to be typed, using Times New Roman, 12-point font.]


Part One

Any study of American entertainment in the early twentieth century must contend with the enormous popularity of the D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film, ​The Birth of a Nation, w​ hich dramatized Thomas Dixon’s 1905 book ​The Klansman.​ Drawing on the unit readings and the documentary, ​Birth of a Movement, answer the following questions:

What meaning of “history” did ​The Birth of a Nation​ promote about the causes and consequences of Civil War and Reconstruction?

What responses did the film elicit from those who believed in its portrayal of the past and those who opposed it? In answering this question, it will be useful to bring in examples from the social groups that believed (and celebrated) the film and those who protested it.

3. When examining the content of and response to ​The Birth of a Nation, ​what does this film’s popularity reveal about American culture in the early twentieth century, particularly regarding questions of race and rights of citizenship?

Part Two

For the last week of class, you watched a film from this ​list​ and conducted a search in newspaper databases as a means of ascertaining how American audiences responded to the film. Part two of this exam asks for your reflections on this experience. Please answer the following questions:

How does the film you selected reflect the cultural interests of Americans during this era? In answering this question, make sure you identify the film you selected and give a basic overview of its plot. Then, approach it as a primary source. What does the film suggest about American cultural views, particularly in terms of any of the following: race, gender, class, responses to urbanization, or industrialization. In answering this question, feel free to include screenshots from the film you watched if you find that such illustrations would help you make your point.

Describe your search in the newspaper databases. What evidence were you able to find about how Americans responded to the film, or any of its main actors/actresses? In answering this question, feel free to include screenshots of newspaper articles that you found (just make sure to cite the source of the articles). NOTE: if you have difficulty finding articles about the particular movie you watched, you can also search for articles about any of the main actors/actresses in the film and comment on media coverage of them.

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