Final Essay

You’ve learned a lot over the past two months. You’ve become aware of how the communication process affects cultural, political, social, spiritual and personal relationships that make up our world. You’ve studied not only the communication exchanges between yourself and others, but also the communication exchanges between social groups, cultural enclaves, political and religious organizations, businesses, etc. You’ve been able to observe and contemplate how the process of watching and listening are indispensable tools for the communications expert. In this Final Essay (as in the mid-term) you will watch one movie, listed below, and write a six-page (minimum) essay that uses the observations and theories outlined in these chapters to discuss what you’ve learned.

You are required to demonstrate your familiarity with the terms and theories discussed in the textbook chapters and properly incorporate them into your essay . Treat this as a scholarly essay, not a subjective summary. Don’t generalize–make specific arguments (which requires a clearly stated thesis statement that you can support and defend).

You will need to cite at least three outside scholarly sources in your essay (the movie does not count as an “outside scholarly source,” but the textbook does).


FAHRENHEIT 9/11, FAHRENHYPE 9/11 (You will need to watch both movies to do a comparison/contrast)

Probably no movie in recent time has caused as much controversy as Fahrenheit 9/11. Michael Moore’s documentary focuses on the Bush Administration’s response to the tragic events of 9/11 and argues strongly for the presence of a conservative bias in our country’s media. Fahrenhype 9/11 was filmed in response to Moore’s documentary and provides rebuttal for the claims made in the original film. Regardless of your own political philosophies, these films represent attempts to use the media to influence political action. Make note of the specific techniques the filmmakers used to influence the viewer. Research to what extent these films succeeded in changing the viewpoints of the audience.


Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) is a depressed actor who returns home after being away for ten years. Largeman is pleasantly surprised by acquaintances he makes in his hometown, but ultimately must confront his domineering father. This film provides you with the opportunity to explore the role of the particular other and generalized other in developing our self-concept. Pay attention to the ways in which Largeman achieves his personal growth.


Tom Hanks plays Viktor Navorski, an Eastern European traveler stranded in a New York airport. Navorski is caught between the loss of his homeland due to war, and bureaucratic red tape that prevents him from successfully immigrating into the U.S. He sets up residence in the airport and develops relationships with the airport staff. A large part of this movie focuses on the cultural issues that impact Navorski’s ability to survive in the airport. Observe the ways in which an outsider can help illuminate the culture of an organization. Look for examples of organizational roles and rules that are present in the airport. The movie also provides insight into other structural constraints (e.g., policies) that affect organizations.

Use these movies as a jumping-off point for a more detailed discussion of the relevant communication elements involved. Use appropriate scholarly writing style. You will need to cite three outside sources (from refereed, communication journals).

Requirements for the essay:

1. Write a well-defined thesis: A thesis statement contains a single idea, clearly focused and specifically stated, that grows out of your exploration of a subject. A thesis statement can be thought of as a central idea phrased in the form of an assertion. It is a claim—that is, it indicates what you claim to be true, interesting, or valuable about your subject.

2. Organize the classic rhetorical argument:

Introduction: Introduce your issue and capture the attention of your audience. Try using a short narrative or a strong example.

Background information: Provide your audience with a history of the situation—state how things currently stand. Define any key terms. Even if you think the facts speak for themselves, draw the attention of your audience to those points that are especially important and explain why they are meaningful.

Proposition: Introduce the position you are taking. Frame it as a thesis statement or claim.

Proof: Discuss the reasons why you have taken you position. Provide facts, expert testimony, and any other evidence that supports your claim.

Refutation: Show why you are not persuaded by the arguments of people who hold a different position. Concede any point that has merit but show why this concession does not damage your own case.

Conclusion: Summarize your most important points and appeal to your audience’s feelings.

3. Finally, follow all grammar, punctuation, and stylistic rules. The essay must be free of run-on sentences and sentence splices. Use active voice.