12 Years a Slave, the film and the book

Assignment on 12 Years a Slave, the film and the book

This assignment asks you to compare 12 Years a Slave the 1853 book to the 2013 film. There are both obvious and subtle differences in plot line, character development, and information presented in both pieces. The medium of print allows for longer explanations of the internal thoughts of Solomon Northup and more information about slavery in general, among many other topics. The film has the advantages of being able to use lighting, soundtrack, and other visual cues to drive the viewer’s thoughts and emotions.

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Your task is to discuss three distinct events, ideas, or character descriptions (hereafter described as “elements”). You must choose three elements: one that exists in the book but is absent (or nearly so) in the film; one that exists in the film but is absent in the book (or nearly so); and one that is presented fairly evenly in both, but in ways that capture the differences between the two media forms.


As you discuss the first two elements, explain the following: what does the addition of this element add to the story or interpretation? Does its absence impact the other media form? For the final element, how do the textual and cinematic presentations differ? How are they similar? Did you, as the audience, respond to the two different presentations differently? If so, how?


Your essay must have a clear thesis. Your essay should be four to five, double-spaced pages in length. It should be in 12 pt. font, with 1” margins, stapled, with page #s. You must use the citation format laid out in the Chicago Manual of Style or Rampolla’s A Pocket Guide to Writing in History. Your paper should be clearly written and impeccably proofread. The instructor will use Turnitin to detect plagiarism. Papers must be submitted through Moodle as either PDF or Word Document.

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