The Telegraph, Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino

The Telegraph, Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino

OBJECTIVE: In a 2007 article in the British periodical, The Telegraph, Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino stated, “I want to explore something that really hasn’t been done . . . I want to do movies that deal with America’s horrible past with slavery and stuff but do them like spaghetti westerns, not like big issue movies. I want to do them like they’re genre films, but they deal with everything that America has never dealt with because it’s ashamed of it, and other countries don’t really deal with because they don’t feel they have the right to.” Calling this enterprise a “southern,” Tarantino explained that he wanted to pay homage to this genre (the spaghetti western) 1 with a dark comedy that dealt with slavery. Django Unchained (2012) became just such an endeavor. Since many people retain much of their historical knowledge through popular culture outlets, students will produce an original film critique of Django Unchained which addresses whether the movie presents realistic portrayals of the institution of slavery with regard to the comparison and contrast of slavery for enslaved men and women during the antebellum period (1820 -1860).


➢ Craft a thesis and research essay that compares/contrasts enslavement for males and females during the antebellum period with what is presented on the screen.

➢ Based on your research, does this appear to be an accurate portrayal of slavery during the antebellum period—why or why not? If not, offer suggestions on how the filmmaker could have produced a more accurate representation.

➢ Given that this is a popular film and not a documentary, did the writers, producers, etc. have an obligation to stay completely true to the story?

➢ How does this popular portrayal affect the historical interpretation?

➢ Copies of the film are available on course reserve in the library. Also, there are examples of film critiques, though they may not be scholarly, available on Blackboard for your perusal.


A formal film critique/informed essay of 3-4 double-spaced (12 pt. font– Times Roman, Arial, Calibri or similar professional font) pages is required. All information must be cited in the form of endnotes or footnotes. Papers need to be uploaded through the corresponding Blackboard/SafeAssign link. SafeAssign® is a plagiarism software tool; papers will be assessed for their authenticity. The papers will not be returned; the student will receive a completed rubric with a graded value and evaluation.

STYLE MANUAL (ON RESERVE AT THE LIBRARY IN BOOK FORM; ALSO AVAILABLE IN UPDATED ELECTRONIC FORM BY LINK ON BLACKBOARD): Please refer to Kate L. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 7 th edition (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2007) for clarification on the proper citation form.

REQUIRED MINIMUM SOURCES: In addition to the sources listed below, students are to utilize 2 books and 3 scholarly journal articles that inform their research. Internet sources/sites are not acceptable sources for this project unless specifically noted by the professor for inclusion. The student may use electronic resources available at the library (e.g.: online journals, etc.).

REQUIRED SLAVE NARRATIVES (ON RESERVE IN THE LIBRARY & LINKED THROUGH BLACKBOARD): NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS (FREDERICK DOUGLASS) & INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL (HARRIET JACOBS). • These works also can be found in condensed form in the Norton Anthology of African American Literature (not recommended) and/or may be accessed through (complete versions—see Blackboard link).

REQUIRED AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS (ON RESERVE IN THE LIBRARY & LINKED THROUGH BLACKBOARD): • Slavery and the Making of America─volume 3; • Frederick Douglass: When the Lion Wrote History

REQUIRED DOCUMENTS (ON RESERVE IN THE LIBRARY & AVAILABLE ON BLACKBOARD): • “Margaret Ward Follows the North Star to Freedom “;  3 • “Frederick Douglass Borrows a Sailor’s Papers to Escape Slavery”; • “Letter from Harriet Jacobs to Ednah Cheney”; • “Margaret Garner Kills Her Daughter Rather than See Her returned to Slavery”; • “Lunsford Lane Describes the Moment When He First Recognized the Meaning of Slavery”; • “Lewis Clarke Discusses the Impact of Slavery on Family Life”; • “Life as a Slave: A Narrative”; & • The Escape of a Fugitive Slave: The Fugitive Blacksmith”

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