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ENGL 1301: Can You Feel the Love?

This guide was created for Dr. Brinkman's English 1301: Composition & Rhetoric I, summer 6WI 2023.

Research Project

When people focus on film, they often focus on the sociopolitical commentary embedded within them. Movies, as the argument goes, offer a space for social and political change, and, when their messages are heeded, they offer an opportunity for personal and political growth. Seriously watching film hones your critical thinking skills, your focus, your knowledge of the world. All of this is irrefutable, of course, and movies should be viewed for these academic, personal, and professional benefits. In recent years, however, more attention has been paid to the social-emotional value of fiction. In this paper, we will think about how watching film impacts personal well-being and society. Specifically, we will be considering how fiction has the power to teach us about human relationships, benefitting them on both a personal and social level. While watching film can broaden our perspectives and help us to become more empathetic, it can also teach us how to improve, evaluate, and reconsider our interpersonal relationships. In particular, film has the potential to demonstrate the power of all sorts of love, and in so doing helps people to enrich their interpersonal relationships, which in turn can improve society.

To begin with, think about the readings and topics we’ve discussed this term, all of which pertain to love. Think about the type of love you wish to focus on. You can focus on romantic love, love between siblings, parent-child love, the love between friends, or even the love between humans and animals. 

The task:
You will select an English language film and write a research paper that answers the following question: WHAT does this movie teach its viewers about love and how can that enrich them personally and as members of society?

This is a research project divided into two parts: a research checkpoint and the paper itself. 

There is a file in the Research Project module that contains a correctly formatted example of a Research Checkpoint. Note that NONE of the entries contains quotations. 

1. Find 3 sources from the library database or Internet that pertain to your topic. You can find sources on the film or on love. These sources should be academic sources, or online sources written by academics (such as essays from Aeon, The New Yorker, The Economist, or The Atlantic). Blogs, personal websites, popular media, and news sites are not acceptable sources.
2. Compose a research checkpoint following MLA format. Your checkpoint should have two parts: an introduction and the citations itself.
3. The Introduction should be around 300 words and it should discuss what you plan to write about in your essay. DO NOT use quotations, just share your plans in your own words.
4. The checkpoint should follow MLA. Each of the two entries should be two paragraphs. The first paragraph should be a summary that follows our four-part summary format. It should NOT contain quotes and should be done completely in your own words. In a second paragraph explain in 150 or so words why this source is relevant. Here, too you should NOT use quotes. 

•    MLA Formatting
•    3 sources authored by academics (2 must be from the library)
•    NO Quotations
•    For each entry, a summary of the source and an evaluative paragraph.

A 4-part summary for nonfiction includes:
1.    The source’s argument
2.    The main points the author makes to support the argument
3.    The author’s purpose
4.    The intended audience and expected outcome of reading

Please see the writing guide for more information on how to write the summary.


Here, you will take the ideas you’ve developed from watching the movie and your research to make a claim about the value of your chosen film. Your essay should be a well-written, researched response to “What does your film teach its viewers about love and how does that enrich them personally and as members of society?”  

There is a Writing Guide that takes you, paragraph-by-paragraph, through what you are supposed to do. 

A sample essay is also available. 


  • MLA formatting
  • At least 900 words
  • Written in edited academic English
  • An arresting, well-developed introductory paragraph 
  • A developed thesis, at the end of your introduction, that answers the question posed by the prompt. This thesis should be restated at the beginning of your conclusion.
  • A summary of the film
  • A paragraph discussing the importance of love in the film
  • 2 analytical paragraphs that explain how the story fosters empathy in the reader. These paragraphs tend to be most successful when they focus on overarching themes or messages OR specific scenes. Each of these paragraphs should contain quotations from the film and analyze how those quotes – or the ideas/actions therein – help to teach the viewer about love. When you are thinking about how a movie addresses love, you can think about negative examples, themes/morals, specific scenes, or the ways in which a film makes a reader adopt new perspectives.
  • A reflective paragraph in which you discuss the value of the film on both a personal and social level
  • A thought-provoking conclusion that restates the thesis and leaves the reader with something to think about

Automatic Grades:
Major Citation Error (missing a WC page, quotes from the film, or in-text citations): 65
Academic Dishonesty (AI or blatant plagiarism): 0
Too-short (paper is shorter than 800 words): 50


Group Project





This project allows you to research “love adjacent” topics and present them to the class. You may explore topics we’ve already touched on in more depth or new topics. Get creative! Essentially, you and one to two other classmates will be exploring some sort of “artifact” or topic – you are researching something concrete, not abstract – and determining if what you are studying qualifies as real love. This project thus asks you to:


1. Come up with a definition of real love.

2. Apply that definition to something in the real world and explain whether or not its real love and why not.

3. Conduct research on your topic and incorporate what you’ve learned into your project.


The task:

1. Form a group. I will not be assigning you groups. (There will be time in class to meet etc.) If you are absent, then you need to supplicate to a group and ask them to join. You cannot do this project alone.

2. As a group, come up with a working definition of real love that applies not just to romance, but to relationships and life more generally.

3. Decide what you are going to focus on. This can be very specific – like Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce in the media, fetishes, addiction, environmentalism, murder cases, family dynamics, etc. You can relate almost anything to love, but make sure if you’re doing something like fetishes or addiction, you pick one specific fetish or addiction on which to focus. If you are focusing on something like family dynamics, find an example to research and focus on. If you’re looking at abuse or murder, then make sure to identify a specific case. If you’re focusing on something like animal rights or environmentalism, focus on specific groups or individuals. You may not promote hate, racism, or incivility.

4. Research your topic. You will use the library resources for this.

5. Present your project: this can be traditional or creative; it doesn’t matter at all! This will be done M/T of the last week of class. If you are absent for your presentation, you will receive a 0 for the presentation.

6. Turn in: an annotated source list. Include 3 research sources, properly formatted. This should follow the format of the source list assignment. One person can submit this for the whole group, but this effort should be collaborative. Include all group members’ names on this, so everyone gets credit.

7. Turn in: an individual reflection about your role/what you learning while doing this project. It should include three well-developed paragraphs, with the first discussing your role in the group, the second discussing your thoughts on your project, and the third reflecting on how the project expanded your thinking.

The presentation, source list, and individual reflection will have separate rubrics. They are provided in separate assignment sheets.

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