Political Science Term Paper Guidelines

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Term Paper Assignment for POS 160

In each of the main chapters of the text for this course, author Cynthia Weber examines a popular film in order to illustrate the way in which a particular theory performs its myth function. In Chapter 2, for example, Weber examines Lord of the Flies in order to clarify how the (neo)realism of Kenneth Waltz, with its central concepts of hierarchy versus anarchy, works to maintain its principal myth, namely, that “anarchy is the permissive cause of war.” In addition, she uses the movie to suggest that Waltz’s theory in support of this myth really turns on something that his theory in fact leaves implicit: the role of fear. According to Weber, the film makes it clear that anarchy, as the absence of an orderer, does not necessarily lead to conflict by itself. Anarchy can have this effect only if sources of fear or terror are socially constructed and added to the scene. This is but one example. You should explore her several analyses of films in order to understand just how she proceeds -- how the films help to clarify key points regarding the several theories introduced in the book.

Your assignment is to conduct a similar analysis of one popular film, examining your chosen film for the way in which it illustrates the myth function of one of the several theories presented in the Weber text. You can select any film you like, so long as it is not one that Weber examines and so long as you can show it to be pertinent in some ways to one of the text’s several theories. For example, Weber uses Wag the Dog to illustrate and criticize key elements of constructivist approaches. You might choose to illustrate and criticize key elements of constructivist theory by way of another film: maybe Canadian Bacon.

Your work will be evaluated on five dimensions:

Engagement: Do you take the assignment seriously? Do you exhibit a clear comprehension of Weber’s presentation of the theory you take up? Are...