Half of your final grade for this course comes from your weekly response papers.  You are required to write eight response papers over the course of the quarter (during weeks 2-9), which are due at the beginning of your Friday discussion section.  I will discuss how to approach writing these papers in lecture during week 1 and I will also provide the class with verbal feedback after reading the second set of response papers.  Below are some guidelines for how to write a good response paper along and grading criteria.


Response papers should be approximately 2 pages long (double spaced, 12 pt. font, standard margins).  It is very difficult to write a good paper that is less than 2 pages long.  The shortest acceptable length is 1 and 1/2 pages.  Papers shorter than that will automatically receive an "F."  While you are welcome to write more, 2 to 2 1/2 pages is an ideal length for this type of writing assignment.

Each response paper should focus on the theme of the week.  You should use this assignment to think about how the film relates to the week's theme by integrating one or more of the week's readings with your experience/analysis of the film.  At the end of lecture on Wednesdays I will finish by briefly talking about the week's film and I will pose a couple of questions to consider in your response papers, although you are free to write about any aspect of the film as long as it clearly relates to the week's theme [NOTE: The only exception to this is for your first response paper during week 2, which I will explain in class].

Keep in mind that you should avoid writing a summary of the film or treating the paper as a film review.  You are also not being asked to write a comprehensive research paper.

Instead, it is best to think about these response papers as a means of personally exploring the week's theme by synthesizing the film, readings and lecture in your writing.  Therefore, it can be helpful to focus on a few isolated scenes or aspects of the film that seem to relate to what we've been reading and talking about in lecture during the week.  It can also help to think about your paper as a conversation starter for section--use this assignment as a way to prepare for participating in those discussions.  There is much room in your papers for expressing your creativity, engaging in self-reflection and above all, demonstrating your ability to synthesize the ideas and texts presented in class with your reading of the films.

While there is no need to provide a bibliography for your response papers, and you are prohibited from incorporating sources into your papers that are not assigned readings for the course, it is a good idea to not just mention one or more of the week's readings in your paper, but to actually quote and/or paraphrase them, including basic citation information [EXAMPLE: (Smith 34).  This is to ensure that you are reading the course texts closely and that your observations about the film are informed by your understanding of these texts.  Also, please include a title for each paper.  This is intended to help you narrow the focus of your response paper.


The eight response papers you will write for this course constitute 50% of your final course grade.  You are required to turn in a printed out paper (that is stapled together) at the beginning of your discussion section during weeks 2-8.  If you are absent from section for any reason you should email your paper to me (or to your TA) by the end of the day on Friday and bring a printed copy to lecture the following Monday in order to not lose any credit.  Late papers will be accepted, but will be penalized.  You must complete all eight papers in order to pass the course.

Papers will receive four possible evaluations (along with short comments and observations to help you think further about the course material):

✓+  An outstanding paper that effectively and creatively synthesizes course material with a response to the week's film (corresponds to an A/A-)

✓    A good paper that meets the requirements of the assignment as outlined above (corresponds to a B+/B/B-)

✓-   A paper that requires further thought or more development of ideas or lacks understanding of course material or demonstrates only a surface level engagement with the film and/or the week's readings (corresponds to a C+/C/C-)

F    A paper that is not long enough (1 1/2 page minimum) or doesn't mention at least one of the week's readings or fails to discuss the film in any substantive way or does an extremely poor job doing so


30% of your final course grade comes from the final exam.  I will provide you with more information about the exam in lecture during week 9, however, you should know in advance that it will reflect the design of this course.  We have three hours for the final exam.  During the first 85-95 minutes of that time we will watch a feature film together (depending on the exact length of the film I choose).  Then you will be asked to write about the film in relation to four of the themes of the course, much in the same way you have been prompted to write response papers for this course.


If you would like to improve your final grade by 1/3rd of a letter grade [EXAMPLE: change your final grade for the course from a B- to a B], you have  an opportunity to do so this quarter (unlike any other you'll ever get at UCSD!).  The extra credit assignment consists of the following: 

1. Read Chapter 4, "The Footprints of Film: After-Images of Religion in Space and Time" of Religion and Film, one of the two books assigned for this course.  (This is already required reading--we will end the course by considering some of the implications of this chapter).

2. Attend a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Two theaters in the San Diego area have regular screenings:

La Paloma Theatre, 471 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, 92024, (760) 436-7469: EVERY FRIDAY AT MIDNIGHT

Ken Cinema, 4061 Adams Ave., San Diego, 92116, (619) 283-3227: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16th AT MIDNIGHT

3. Write a 2 page response paper on your cinema experience in relation to the chapter in Religion and Film and the themes of the course, paying particular attention to the themes of experience, ritual, community and transgression.  Note that while you should mention the film in your paper, the focus of this response paper is on the experience of attending the midnight screening of the film, rather than the content of the film itself (although there is certainly a relationship between the two, which you're welcome to reflect upon).

4. Turn in a hard copy of your extra credit response paper to me along with your movie ticket stub by the Wednesday lecture of Week 10.

5. Have fun!

*NOTE: I highly recommend waiting until the week on "Community" (Week 7) to attend a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in order to get the most out of this experience.


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