Prepare a short essay of 3-4 pages which explains (1) how the eighteenth century has been remembered and characterized in the assigned film and (2) how that source relates to course content and to central themes from this course.
Students will complete one out of the four possible film response papers over the course of the semester. A Royal Affair is option 2.
Expected Learning Outcomes
Students display knowledge about the origins and nature of contemporary issues and develop a foundation for future comparative understanding.
Students think, speak, and write critically about primary and secondary historical sources by examining diverse interpretations of past events and ideas in their historical contexts.
The Response Paper will address how the film presents key themes concerning the history of the eighteenth century, and how the film relates to the assigned reading from weeks 4-6. Instructions for this assignment include the complete prompt (here in the content section), and the rubric for writing your response paper (below in the evaluation section).
The History and Film Response Paper is an opportunity to reflect on key themes from weeks 4-6 of this course. We have studied the cultural and intellectual changes of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries associated with the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment. We examined the state model of absolutist monarchies and the challenges to this model during the Age of Revolutions. And we considered the eighteenth century as a period of reform and change—economically, technologically, and socially.
The impact of the Enlightenment on politics is the focus of Nikolaj Arcel’s A Royal Affair (2012). The lives of the three main figures in the film, King Christian VII of Denmark, his British wife, Caroline Matilda, and the German royal physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee, are each shaped by larger historical processes.
Please watch A Royal Affair at Kanopy:
Then write a written response to the film and to course readings.
Organize your paper into four sections of approximately equal length that respond to the prompt listed here. There is no need to write an introduction or conclusion paragraph.
Begin by writing about the film. What are the central themes or questions that this film is exploring? Where did the writer and director focus their attention? What is their interpretation of eighteenth-century Europeans and the worlds they inhabited and negotiated? In other words, what does this source communicate about eighteenth-century European history?
Then, examine how the film relates to the assigned content from weeks 4-6. Please use evidence from the assigned Berenson textbook, chapters 4-6. You may choose to focus in greater depth on any aspect of the content we have covered so far (for example, focus on the ideas associated with the Enlightenment, the way absolutist monarchies functioned, or the social and political challenges that the Age of Revolutions introduced). It’s better to write a strong evaluation of one topic rather than trying to cover everything.
Relate the film to the course content you presented. What happens when you view the film with the historical record in mind? Does the film align with the scholarly evidence summarized and presented in the textbook? It’s ok to think that these two sources are far apart or that they are closely related. In either case, use examples from the film and the textbook to support your interpretation.
Reflect on your findings from prompt three—how do we as historians interpret the ways that representations of the past like A Royal Affair fit and do not fit the historical record. To what extent is the film informed by historical scholarship? What choices are the writers in this project making? Are the characters’ motivations informed by the choices that you would understand as being the choices that were faced by the people at the time?
To consider these questions, please listen to the interview with historians Hannah Grieg and Greg Jenner as they discuss their work as historical advisors of popular television series on the History Extra podcast (the official podcast of the BBC History Magazine). Please listen to minutes 7:59-20:10 from the September 8, 2016 episode, “Poldark and historical tv drama” available at this link:
Successful papers will be based upon the student’s original argument, use of relevant evidence from the film and the textbook, and analysis of the evidence presented in the paper. For a guide to writing in this manner, see:
Before turning in the paper, please proofread for clarity and organization. A successful paper will be clearly organized and compellingly written so that the reader can follow the student’s reasoning throughout the paper. Please be sure to proofread for typographical errors, grammatical errors, etc.
The final paper should be 3 full pages of text (not including the student’s header on the first page), but not more than 4 full pages of text, with 1-inch margins, double spacing, and page numbers. The font should be Times New Roman (or comparable), size 12.
The essay must be submitted in a .doc, .docx, or .pdf format via the appropriate Carmen dropbox.
The Film Response Paper will be assessed according to the attached rubric (30 points possible).
If you have any questions about this assignment, please contact Prof. Bond (bond.282), or your assigned GA, Rob Matina (matina.2) or Justin Salgado (salgado.32).
If you are interested in more support for your writing, The Writing Center offers a range of online services:
For all questions, I am happy to meet during office hours or by appointment at a mutually agreed upon time. I want you to be successful.
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