Paper Proposal: Diving into Avatar

I’ve decided that for my paper I’m going to do Option A and dive deeper into the world of Avatar because I don’t think one short screening report did the film justice. I’ve always been fascinated by the film and the themes it presented ever since I saw it when it came out. I think that James Cameron has a deep connection with nature and wants his audience to have the same type of connection. One of my authors quoting Cameron as saying, “Avatar asks us all to be warriors of the Earth”. My argument will be centered around some of the same things that I discussed in my blog post; the connection between the Na’vi and Native Americans, the oil war and the connection to militarism, the social sarcasm of “unobtanium”, and the general connection to nature that is constantly presented in the film. My thesis will be centered on this idea: “In this paper I will discuss how in the film Avatar it encourages people to become more active in taking care of the world they live by developing a better connection with the Earth”. I know that I want to argue that the film definitely has had an impact on the way people treat the environment and is another step in awareness.

Bibliography

Holtmeier, Matthew. “Post-Pandoran Depression Or Na’vi Sympathy: Avatar, Affect, And Audience Reception.” Journal For The Study Of Religion, Nature & Culture 4.4 (2010): 414-424. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 July 2013.

This academic article discusses James Cameron’s comment that “Avatar asks us all to be warriors of the Earth”. The author gives two types of reactions to the film; “Na’vi Sympathy” (change in movie goers worldview) and “Post-Pandoran Depression” (desire for unreal “techno-spiritual” world of Pandora).

Istoft, Britt. “Avatar Fandom As Nature-Religious Expression?.” Journal For The Study Of Religion, Nature & Culture 4.4 (2010): 394-413. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 July 2013.

This is an article where the author did a study by looking into the fan base of Avatar to see if the film really had an impact on their environmental practices. I will use this article to argue that the film has had an impact based on what the author has discovered.

Scheide, Frank1. “Frederick Jackson Turner’s “Frontier Thesis”, Avatar (2009), And The Representation Of Native Americans In Hollywood Film.” International Journal Of The Arts In Society 5.6 (2011): 197-210. Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 24 July 2013.

I will use this article to connect the Na’vi and the Native Amercians. This author argues that Avatar is a great film to use when displaying the “Hollywood Native American” and did better than films like Pocahontas or Dances with Wolves.

Taylor, Bron, and Adrian Ivakhiv. “Opening Pandora’s Film.” Journal For The Study Of Religion, Nature & Culture 4.4 (2010): 384-393. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 July 2013.

This is a short academic journal article about some of the ecological issues presented in Avatar. More importantly, the authors discuss the point I would like to make about connections to the military force in the film and how that relates to private security forces today, human rights violations, and the war over oil.

von Heland, Jacob, and Sverker Sörlin. “Works Of Doubt And Leaps Of Faith: An Augustinian Challenge To Planetary Resilience.” Journal For The Study Of Religion, Nature & Culture 6.2 (2012): 151-175. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 July 2013.

This academic journal discusses global environmental politics from the vantage point of Avatar. It references several times the work of scientist Dr. Augustine and how their thoughts relate to the film.

 

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One response to “Paper Proposal: Diving into Avatar

  1. Nick,
    This sounds great, if still quite general at this point. Avatar is a much-discussed movie and I have no doubt there’s plenty left to say about it. Your sources look good as well.
    My main feedback to you is probably something you’re already working on: namely, that you need to sharpen your focus. Ideally, your thesis will end up being quite a bit more specific and concrete than the provisional one you have here — to say that the film encourages viewers to “be more active in taking care of the world” by “developing a better connection with the Earth” is pretty bland. I’d like to see you flesh out those ideas with more concreteness, being sensitive to the sorts of debates articulated in the readings for this course. For example, it’s possible to find many links between Avatar and the philosophies of deep ecology and land ethics — but those philosophies have their critics, and they have even been critical towards each other. You might see if you can bring out some of the texture of those debates in your paper. Similarly, Hull spends a great amount of time building his notion of a “pluralized” nature — and so any talk about our “connection” with nature should probably also be clear about what we mean by nature. A cynic might argue, for instance, that the military-industrial exploiters of Pandora would say, if you asked them, that they have a perfectly good relationship with nature: it’s a lot like their relationship with their bank — all they’re doing is extracting value. Finding an adequate response to such a viewpoint means making the case for alternative conceptions of nature, while avoiding a blanket dismissal of any and all economic concerns.
    I might also add, as a final note, that if you haven’t yet been to the Wikipedia page for Avatar, it’s actually worth a look. One of the most detailed and well-footnoted pages I’ve come across on that site!
    Jamey

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