Lensing – Application of Theory

Major Project #3: “Lensing” (Application of Theory) 


A common practice in academic writing is the use of an existing theoretical and critical framework to assess, analyze and understand some text or phenomenon. Applying a theory as a lens can help you not only see new or different things about the objects being analyzed, but may also help you discover limitations or gaps in the theory itself. This basic pattern is one of the primary means through which all disciplines create and extend knowledge. 

For this project, you will be practicing this form of analysis in the realm of film and cultural studies. Specifically, you will be using the article that you didn’t write about for Project 2. 

Your task 

Using the questions below as a guide, you should summarize and apply major concepts from your assigned reading to Happy Death Day. Use these questions to guide your analysis as you formulate and develop your thesis. You should probably choose 1-2 related questions to generate a central thesis question that your analysis will provide an answer for. 

  1. For Clover: How do Tree, Carter and Lori fit (or not fit) within the character scheme that Clover lays out? Is Tree a “victim” or a “final girl”? How does the depiction of Carter line up with the depiction of male characters in the older films Clover analyzes? If the film modifies these classic slasher tropes, what is the significance/meaning of the modification(s)? How might Clover characterize the film’s treatment of gender representation? 

Your ultimate goal is to use Wood or Clover’s ideas to gain a deeper understanding of the film, its cultural significance, its relationship to the horror/slasher genre, etc. You should endeavor to see the film as the original reading might see it, to write about it in the original article’s terms. That will mean both mastering the reading’s concepts and learning to approximate its style and approach. 

For more on Lensing, see the excerpt from Rosenwasser and Stephen’s Writing Analytically contained in this folder. 


  1. As with Project 2, you should begin by printing a copy of the reading and analyzing it using the strategies described by Rosenberg in “Reading Games.” Go beyond passive reading by annotating, taking notes, highlighting, underlining, etc. If you encounter confusing terms/ideas, look them up and define them in the margins. Locate and identify key passages and major takeaways. Note: you will again be turning in a copy of the annotated reading along with your project submission. 
  2. Inventory the ways in which Happy Death Day both does and does not fit the patterns described and analyzed in the reading. Think about the significance of both the pattern matches and the deviations. 
  3. Draft an essay that contextualizes your analysis, summarizes and defines key terms/concepts from the reading, and then applies those concepts to the film. 
  4. Receive feedback on your draft and revise accordingly.

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