Midterm Essay

One of the main objects of this course is to help you to become aware of how the communication process affects the cultural, political, social, spiritual and personal relationships that make up our world. To this end, you will be asked to study 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. Learning how to watch and listen are indispensable tools for the communications expert. In your Midterm Essay, 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).


This movie takes place during WWII, when Navajo Marines are deployed to the frontlines in the Pacific Theater to use their language as an unbreakable code. The film focuses on the relationships forged between the Navajos and their fellow Marines who are assigned to protect them from harm. Discuss the arbitrary, ambiguous, and abstract nature of language, not just in terms of the use of language as code, but in terms of the interactions among the characters.

Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is an American film actor who is in Tokyo to film a whiskey ad. While in Tokyo, Bob meets Charlotte (Scarlett Johannson) the young wife of a visiting photographer. The film follows Bob and Charlotte as they develop a special relationship in a strange culture. Discuss examples of the listening processes like mindfulness, selective attention, and responsiveness. How do these characters practice relational listening with one another?

In this film, Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Affleck play characters whose lives are dramatically changed after they have an accident on the freeway. Both characters engage in questionable actions in retribution of what the other has done. Over a period of time, both characters send each other’s life in chaos. Ultimately, they begin to question their decisions and ultimately get to a higher and more ethical ground. How do acknowledgement, recognition, and endorsement operate to influence the way we react to one another? Discuss conflict management in relation to the characters here.

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.