Midterm Essay 1
CES 115: American Film as Literature:
Spike Lee: An American Film Maker
A Black American Aesthetic:
I’ve been thinking deeply about film as literature this quarter, and about the question, ‘what does it mean to be American.’ Every time I use the phrase African
American literature, there is a gnawing at the back of my brain. Whenever I teach a work written by an African American author/director/artist and we talk about race,
those teeth begin to nip at the nape of my neck. I know that these works are different than the works that I read by other authors who are also American but are white.
I know that the ways that I have been taught these works are different, and that the ways that these works affect me are different. But I find it difficult, almost
impossible to explain exactly how these works differ.
Aesthetics are the principles by which we judge artistic beauty and taste. They are the standards by which we judge a piece of art; it’s how we know whether or not a
work of art is ‘good.’ Often, we choose to use a concept like the lens of a camera through which we will reveal the world to others. In this essay you will be asked to
look at six (6) Spike Lee films through the lens ‘what it means to be an American.’ We began this class with the question, ‘what does it mean to be an American,’ and I
ask you to return to that question for your formal easy.
She’s Gotta Have It He Got Game
Do the Right Thing Get on the Bus
Mo’ Better Blues Malcolm X
Jungle Fever 25th Hour
Choose one of the above listed films, write and write an essay that discusses how this film shows Spike Lee’s concept of what it means to be an American. Write an
essay titled: Spike Lee: An American Film Maker.