For the term paper, watch one of the following films and follow the protagonist listed with the movie*.

The movies are available through Netflix, Amazon, the school library (second floor), and other sources. I hope this assignment works out to be a pleasant experience for you.

Write a four to six page (typed, double spaced) essay about the protagonist anchoring your observations on concepts and theories that you have learned in this class to answer the following four questions:

(1) What do you see as the personís self concept?  (What does the protagonist's behavior and words say about the question, "Who am I?").  Is there a difference between what you perceive is the protagonistís self concept and who you think the person really is?  Explore self concept and identity has defined for this class.  Don't write a personality profile!  Explain how you think his/her self concept developed and what factors have impacted it.  Apply theory or research in answering this question..  For example, Action Identification Theory proposes that any act can be interpreted in a number of different ways and what that act represents to the individual reflects on their identity/self concept.  (If you use this, give specific examples.)  Schlenker's Self Presentation model states that a person consciously or nonconsciously attempts to control identity-relevant images before others.  In other words, a person behaves with others in a manner that reflects on her or his self image (or what (s)he wants others to believe he's like which maybe very different from that person's actual self concept)..  Be specific about what image(s) the protagonist is presenting and what it reveals.  Gopnik's Theory Theory proposes that a person growing up develops theories about themselves.  Gopnik says that a person not only behaves in ways consistent with those theories but interpret their behavior in ways that are consistent with them.  What are these self theories?  (You can speculate on the person' growing up influenced the formation of these theories.)  Carl Rogers proposed that the person's self concept is not always an accurate reflection of the person.  You can use Rogers' ideas about how the self concept forms (and how incongruency develops) to account for the development of the self concept.  Again, illustrate your points.  These are just some examples of theory/research you can use.  There are many other concepts that were presented in the course.  Use what works for you but make sure the various theories and interpretations you discuss work together.

(2) Explore the major choices he or she makes in the film. What do these say about the person's identity, sense of self and possible esteem issues.  What factor(s) that influence a person's self concept/identity do you see as active here?  For example, Karen Horney would propose that a Victorian woman who does all that she can to find a husband has a view of herself as a female as having limited opportunities in her society to support herself and needs a man to provide for safety, security, and freedom from fear and threats.   William James proposed that the constituents of the self promote positive or negative feelings and behavior; A person whose material possession are humble or inferior would feel dissatisfied and (s)he would engage in behavior to better their lot.  Schneider and Turkat's research suggest the difference between "genuine" and "defensive" high self esteem.  Those with the latter "harbor inner negative self feelings that they are unwilling to admit" that are nonetheless manifested in choices revealing a fear of failure and desire to look good.  Carl Rogers took a different position:  A person's choices are a reflection of how she or he perceive themself to be.  In terms of self esteem, a protagonist can engage in some form of self enhancement behavior that may underpin a major choice.  (Again, these are just examples of what you can use.)

(3) Given his or her self concept, explore the relationships with other key characters, especially the antagonist.  This is the person who gets in the way of the protagonist realizing whatever it is (s)he is trying to do. (The antagonist cannot be the protagonist no matter how much the person may hold him or herself back; the antagonist is always another person.).  Does the person's identity shift or differ when (s)he is interacting with different individuals and groups?  If so, how do you account for differences you notice?  George Herbert Mead (and in a different way William James) would explain any differences observed as reflecting the "multiple-me."  John Turner would address one's group identity (ingroup, outgroup) to explain relationships and some of the differences observed.  Erving Goffman had a different point, viewing people as actors and living out roles. 

(4) What does the outcome (ending) says about the personís sense of self?  Can you identify any changes that may have been realized in his or her identity or self concept?  What factors, process, or psychological mechanism do you think accounts for these changes?  Examples:  Carl Roger might propose that because of the affirming nature of a significant relationship, the person's self concept has become increasingly congruent with their self experiences and thus the changes you see at the end of the film reflect on this.  Festinger might suggest that cognitive dissonance developed because things the protagonist did were inconsistent with his/her self concept and (s)he had to change their self concept (or change their behavior or the way they viewed past actions) to achieve consonance.  Mead proposed that the "I" is not only the immediate response of the individual to others but is incalculable, unpredictable, and creative aspect of the self that allows for change.  Remember, Mead was writing as a behaviorist and if you explore the issue of the "I" to answer this question, you need to speculate about the environmental factors that would have contributed to the change in the person's self as well as that which reveal the creative aspect of the self. 

As you can see you need to use specific theories and or research to support your answers. Use any that were discussed in the lectures and/or reading materials and are relevant to you to support your answer.  As you do, integrate the material so that it fits together.  Just don't take all the examples I give here or pull everything you can think of to pad your paper. Your term paper will lack focus if you do.   Instead, select theories and research that hangs together and works for you.    If you use any of the examples I've provided here, you need to develop their application specific to the protagonist with good examples from the movie to illustrate your point.

To make the paper easier for you to write (and clearer for me to read and grade), answer each question separately and start your answers by identifying the question you are answering.  Here is a sample A paper that I encourage you to review to get an idea of what you need to do both in terms and style and content. 

                                                         SAMPLE PAPER

Finally, do not write a plot summary of the film: I know these films----believe me, I know these films----, so I donít need to be told the story. Instead you can describe certain instants (i.e., scenes) and the protagonistís behavior, words, or reactions in the movie to illustrate your points.


Sarah's Key
The American (2010)
Maria Full of Grace5
The City of God3
Bridehead Revisted
Mozart's Sister6
Shall We Dance? (1996)2
Mansfield Park
The Secret Life Of Bees
Bless Me Ultima
Midnight in Paris
Miss Potter
Sunshine Cleaning




Sergei Gregoriev6
Buscapť "Rocket"3
Charles Ryder or Julia Flyte
Nannerl Mozart6
Sister Aloysius Beauvier
Oliver Fields, Hal Fields, or Anna
Antonio Márez y Lun
Beatrix Potter
Anna (Ida)7

*Even if you have seen the movie before, it is recommended that watch it again because your memory may reflect a different mind set when first viewing.
Other movies have been added to this lists. See the class syllabus.

2. Japanese with English Subtitles
3. Brazilian Portuguese with English Subtitles
4. Italian with English Subtitles
5. Spanish with English Subtitles
6. French
7. Polish

Each quarter, films are added and dropped from this list. DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE OF VIEWING A FILM THAT WAS ON A PREVIOUS QUARTER'S LIST!

This list contains a variety of movies.  For the most part, they are "art house" films and watching them is not like watching GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY or TED.

In picking a film for the paper, be sure to select something you will enjoy.  There is something here for almost every taste.  (Okay, if your favorite movie of all times is MINIONS, you might have a problem picking a film that you will enjoy.  But, then again, you might be surprised to find that these little films can not only be thought provoking but an enjoyable viewing experience.)