Mr. Gallo's Honors Amistad Project 

 

 

 

Director Stephen Spielberg deserves credit for bringing to public attention what historians used to refer to dismissively as the Amistad incident. It is the story of a group of Africans who were captured in Mendi (present day Sierra Leone) and brought in chains to the Americas - and who revolted, captured their ship, La Amistad, and eventually were seized off the coast of New England. The captives won their freedom in a case before the United States Supreme Court and ultimately sailed back to their homeland in Africa. Unfortunately, Spielberg’s movie Amistad not only distorts the historical record – arguably inevitability in a Hollywood feature – but also misses much of the story’s drama and significance.  Fortunately the documents are available to tell a story that is not only truer but also more dramatic and meaningful.

 


By Jeremy Brecher

 

 

 

Assignment Options – Choose One - See me for exemplars!

 

  Option 1 - Film Critic


 


Read the reviews of the film and then write your own review in which you attempt to balance both negative and positive aspects of the film.  This assignment should allow you to look at Hollywood creations skeptically.  Unfortunately, most Americans learn their history through dramatized films that often misconstrue actual events purposely.  Here is your chance to set the record straight in the case of the Amistad!

 

The following sites will be helpful

 

http://www.sun.ac.za/forlang/bergman/real/amistad/film/r_index.htm

 

            “What you didn’t see at the movies”

 

            http://www.pesci.com/movie/index.html – I am not validating all points made by the author in this site, but he/she does raise some issues that you may want to investigate to compliment your review!

 

http://www.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/9712/10/amistad.study.guides.flap/

 

           

http://ofcs.rottentomatoes.com/movie-1081365/reviews.php

Actual reviews of the film

 

 

 

·                          Reminder - reviews by other authors are not to be duplicated but rather used as examples of how to go about your critique.  If you are going to dispel a historical inaccuracy in the film it must be done using a historical resource, not using someone else’s word!

·                          If you need assistance ask, I will explain the process in class, but you need to do the research in order to effectively create a good critique.  Just because one of these sites may state that an inaccuracy exists does not mean it is true.  Your task is to uncover the facts from historical sources and dispel the myths yourself!

 


 


 

Option 2 – Newspaper Article

 

 

 


 


You are the editor for a national newspaper in the 19th century. Write an article for an 1841 newspaper describing the decision of the Supreme Court in the Amistad case. Create a newspaper title, accurate side stories, and be sure to keep the facts of the case as precise as possible.  This assignment will require you to do outside research.  Even though you are to report the verdict in the Amistad case, please use a geographical slant to express the sentiments of the case to your audience. Location, date, and language should all be era appropriate. This assignment should be accompanied by an editorial response from a reader regarding the plight of the Amistad Africans as well as another side story of a news piece from the era.

 

The following sites will be helpful –

 

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/amistad.html

 

http://www.amistadamerica.org/

 

http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/amistad/AMISTD.HTM

 

http://www.ushistory.org/philadelphia/timeline/1840.htm

 

I would also suggest looking at timelines and uncovering specific events going on in the local during your papers era.

 

 

 


 


 

 

 

Option 3 – Slave Narrative

 


 


 

Cinque becomes the hero of the Amistad story.  However he was not the only captured African to live to tell the tale of this historical journey.  Your task will be to create a journal as if you were on this historic voyage.  This will be a first person account of the events however it should remain historically accurate.  Keep all dates in accordance with the events that transpired.  You should include the names of other Africans that would have been on this trip as well as a factual one for yourself.  Feel free to be creative with your emotions and reactions, but remember not to change history. 

 

The following as well as the aforementioned sites will be helpful:

 

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/

 

 

http://beatl.barnard.columbia.edu/students/his3487/lembrich/seminar5.html

 

 

http://www.brycchancarey.com/equiano/extract3.htm

 

http://www.melfisher.org/henriettamarie/middlepassage.htm

 

 


 


 

Length and Content Requirements

 

Film Critic

 

·                  Must be 3-4 pages typed in length (double spaced)

·                  Must include historical information as well as information about the film

·                  Must include your opinion that demonstrates empathy

·                  Must read as though it is an authentic film review in a real newspaper- Spelling and grammar count

·                  Must include a works cited for all outside research

 

1841 Newspaper

 

·                  Must be a page Publisher-type newsletter with one main and at least 3 accurate side stories (one should be an op-ed piece)

·                  Must be 2 pages in length (stories may continue on second page)

·                  Must read as though it is an authentic 1840’s newspaper-spelling and grammar count

·                  Must include historical information as well as information from the film

·                  Must include your lead story that discusses the verdict of the Amistad case

·                  Must include a works cited for all outside research

 

 

Creative Journal

 

·                  Must have at least 10 entries of at least 150 words each

·                  Must read as though it is an authentic slave journal- however, spelling and proper grammar count

·                  Must include historical information as well as information from the film (Outside research is mandatory and should be obvious through your writing)

·                  Must include your opinion that demonstrates empathy

·                  Must include a works cited for all outside research

 

 

THE SITES LISTED ARE SUGGESTED STARTING PLACES. YOU ARE NOT LIMITED TO USING MY RESEARCH ALONE, BUT RATHER IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT YOU UTILIZE OTHER RESOURCES. 

 

YOU MUST HAVE A WORKS CITED.  ANY REFERENCES THAT YOU USE IN OBTAINING YOUR INFORMATION MUST BE DOCUMENTED.

 

RUBRICS 

 

 

 

 

Option 1 – Film Critic

 

       10                                         8                                          6                                                             4            

Excellent                                Good                                      Fair                                                         Poor

 

Content                  Ample historically                Adequate historically          Some historically                                  Some accurate

                                accurate information            accurate information            accurate information                            information

 

Written Element   Demonstrates creative         Demonstrates clear              Some what creative                              Unclear, 

                                writing abilities                     writing throughout              written content                                     loosely based

complimented by                  critique complimented by  supported by little                                 writing that shows

                                thorough research of           some research of the           research of the case/                            little research or

the case/film                          case/film                                film                                                          historical                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                analysis

 

Spelling/                Flawless work, paper           1-2 errors in either                3-4 errors in either                                5 or more errors

grammar has been carefully spelling and/or                    spelling and/or                                     in either spelling

                                edited and has no errors     grammar                                 grammar                                                 and/or grammar

 

Length                   3-4 pages typed (double-    2-3 pages typed                    Under 2 pages typed                           1.5 pages typed

                                spaced) with no evidence   or evidence of minimal        or evidence of major           

                                of margin or page                 margin/page alterations      margin or page alterations

                                alterations

 

 

                                                5                                              4                                              3                                                   2

                                         Excellent                                   Good                                       Fair                                              Poor

 

Works  Cited         Documented in MLA          Documented in MLA          Still documented in MLA                    Not typed

                                format and sources              however some                      but sources may be limited                 and/or under

                   cited throughout work        information in critique         to less than 3 or the works                2 works cited

                                                                                may be missing source        cited is not typed

                                                                                credits

 

On time                  5 Points if given on time.  Each day late will result in deduction of 5 points. After 2 days late projects will not be accepted.

 

 

Accumulated

points

 

Total Possible                  50

Points

 

 

 

 

 

 

Option 2 – 1841 Newspaper

 

       10                                         8                                          6                                                             4            

Excellent                                Good                                      Fair                                                         Poor

 

Content                  Ample historically                Adequate historically          Some historically                                  Some accurate

                                accurate information            accurate information            accurate information                            information

 

Written Element   Demonstrates creative         Demonstrates clear              Some what creative                              Unclear, 

 (As described      writing abilities                     writing throughout              written content                                     loosely based

on web page)       complimented by                   articles complimented by   supported by little                                writing that shows

                                thorough research of           some research of the           research of the case/                            little research or

the case and 3 stories          case and  2 side stories       and 1 side story                                    historical                 

                                (one of which is an                                                                                                                              analysis

editorial)                                                                                                                               

 

Spelling/                Flawless work, paper           1-2 errors in either                3-4 errors in either                                5 or more errors

Grammar has been carefully                                spelling and/or                     spelling and/or                                     in either spelling

                                edited and has no errors     grammar                                 grammar                                                 and/or grammar

 

Length                   2 pages typed (double-       1.5 pages typed                    Under 1.5 pages typed                        1 page typed

                                spaced) with no evidence   or evidence minimal             or evidence of major           

                                of margin or page                 margin/page alterations      margin or page alterations

                                alterations

 

 

                                                5                                              4                                              3                                                   2

                                         Excellent                                   Good                                       Fair                                              Poor

 

Works  Cited         Documented in MLA          Documented in MLA          Still documented in MLA                    Not typed

                                format and sources              however some                      but sources may be limited                 and/or under

                   cited throughout work        information in                       to less than 3 or the works                2 works cited

                                                                                may be missing source        cited is not typed

                                                                                credits

 

On time                  5 Points if given on time.  Each day late will result in deduction of 5 points. After 2 days late projects will not be accepted.

 

 

Accumulated

points

 

Total Possible                  50

Points

 

 

 

 

 

Option 3 – Creative Journal

 

       10                                         8                                          6                                                             4            

Excellent                                Good                                      Fair                                                         Poor

 

Content                  Ample historically                Adequate historically          Some historically                                  Some accurate

                                accurate information            accurate information            accurate information                            information

 

Written Element   Demonstrates creative         Demonstrates clear              Somewhat creative                               Unclear, 

                                writing abilities                     writing throughout              written content                                     loosely based

complimented by                  critique complimented       supported by little                                 writing that shows

                                thorough research of           some research of the           research of the case/                            little research or

the case/film                          case/film                                film                                                          historical                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                analysis

 

Spelling/                Flawless work, paper           1-2 errors in either                3-4 errors in either                                5 or more errors

grammar has been carefully spelling and/or                    spelling and/or                                     in either spelling

                                edited and has no errors     grammar                                 grammar                                                 and/or grammar

 

Length                   10 entries at least 150          10 entries with less             9-8 entries or less than                        Less than 8

                                in length                                than 150 words in one        150 words in 3 journals                       entries or

or two journals                                                                                     under 150   words in more

                                                                                                                than 3 journals

 

 

                                                5                                              4                                              3                                                   2

                                         Excellent                                   Good                                       Fair                                              Poor

 

Works  Cited         Documented in MLA          Documented in MLA          Still documented in MLA                    Not typed

                                format and sources              however some                      but sources may be limited                 and/or under

                   cited throughout work        information                            to less than 3 or the works                2 works cited

                                                                                may be missing source        cited is not typed

                                                                                credits

 

On time                  5 Points if given on time.  Each day late will result in deduction of 5 points. After 2 days late projects will not be accepted.

 

 

Accumulated

points

 

Total Possible                  50

Points

 

 

 

 

 

 

Created by A. Gallo

Created: December 2003

Updates: November 2004

 

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