How can Systems Theory help us understand family dynamics in the movie American   Beauty?

Length: minimum 6 pages (double spaced, Times New Roman 12pt, 1 in margins)

Total Points: 75

For this assignment, you and your two groupmates will choose a film, and analyze the characters’ interactions using a relevant concept or theory discussed in lecture or the textbook. As discussed in class, theories are like lenses we put on that give us a particular perspective on the world. Change the lens, the perspective changes. So too with theory. Analyzing your movie through Theory A might well give a very different picture than if you’d analyzed the movie through Theory B.

A complete paper fulfills three requirements:

1) Explaining your theory or concept:

First, select one COMN 1210 concept or theory that helps you better understand the characters and their interactions. In the first part of the paper, you will explain the theory/concept in your own words. To do so, you must reference at least one academic reference. (Either a book or an academic journal article found on the DU library website—make sure you check the “Peer Reviewed Journal Article” filter).

2) Formulating a specific research question and justifying theory choice

Second, you will formulate a research question that follows this template:

“How can X [theory/concept] help us understand Y [particular aspect of your movie] of the movie Z [your chosen film]?

EX 1: “How can Systems Theory help us understand family dynamics in the movie American   Beauty?”

EX 2: “How can Social Exchange Theory explain the dissolution of relationships in the movie High Fidelity?”

Then briefly explain why your chosen theory is well-suited to your research question. In other words, why did you choose this theory to analyze characters’ interaction in this particular film? What makes it a good fit?

 3) Analyzing your film 

Third, you will apply the theory/concept to your group subjects. To accomplish this, choose 3 specific communication interactions/scenes in your film. Try to choose scenes where it seems that a lot of communicative work is being accomplished. For instance: a conflict situation, an initial meeting, the telling of a story or joke, etc. Each application should give us insight into how the theory can help us understand your subjects’ behavior.