Major Paper “Film Review” – John A: Birth of a Country

Major Paper “Film Review” – John A: Birth of a Country

John Sandfield Macdonald, George Brown, Antoine-Aimé Dorion, George-Etienne Cartier, all favourite “Fathers of Confederation” in one place! Oh, and John A. Macdonald too, of course. For your major paper you will watch a video titled “John A Birth of a Nation,” assess it, and then proceed to write a paper responding to the question: As social historians, do you feel that this is an effective way to portray the “Birth of Canada”? Why, or why not?

In responding to this question you should think about:

  • Who is shown in the film – i.e. the historical persons who occupy its narrative
  • Who is notin the film – those people who were left out, either deliberately or otherwise
  • What historical context is presented or missed
  • What historians gain from the perspectives in the film
  • And what story is, broadly speaking, being told here

Try to avoid thinking about the “filming” itself (camera angles, shot choices, etc.), since your job in not to be film students but historians. In other words, be sure to concern yourself with the “history” and the story.

For the paper you are not required to access outside sources in your research, but you should go to your text and lecture notes to research the context of the film – i.e. the Confederation Debates, the years prior to and after Confederation, the people depicted in the film, etc. As you write the paper you must make reference to your text and the lectures that you mention (using proper citation styles) to show that you have studied the facts related to your argument.

If you desire further context, you may find it useful to consult the Dictionary of Canadian Biography for background about the people shown in the film (online at http://www.biographi.ca/en/index.php).

The paper itself should be 1,500 to 2,000 words, double-spaced, size 12 font, and follow the MLA Style Guide: https://library.senecacollege.ca/mla

You can access the full film online via this website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hhQYYeJ8Js

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