Essay Three

Essay Three: Theoretical Analysis


Max Fischer has an insatiable appetite for extracurricular activities: fencing, bee-keeping, yankee racers, calligraphy, backgammon, theater, and on and on and on. These projects and clubs are forms of self-improvement—kinds of sovereign inquiry—but they completely dwarf his responsibilities in the traditional disciplines of formal education: geometry, history, English, etc. According to Dr. Guggenheim, Max is “one of the worst students” at Rushmore Academy.

But what might Paulo Freire argue about Max’s behavior as a human being and a scholar? How might we use Freire’s ideas from “The ‘Banking’ Concept of Education” to analyze or judge the educational trajectory and behavior of Max?

Taking what you know of Freire’s thinking in “The ‘Banking’ Concept of Education,” write a theoretical analysis of Wes Anderson’s Rushmore.

Use Freire’s essay as as theoretical lens. You will have to work hard to provide your audience proper context—explanations of Freire’s ideas and arguments which you will then use as a means of interpreting Rushmore. Imagine that your audience has not read Freire’s essay. What ideas, arguments, and terms from Freire’s essay will you need to carefully explain so that the audience will understand how they may be used to arrive at a new understanding of the film?

Use the MLA format

Example of Theoretical Analysis

Theory Example

Here is a slice of a theoretical analysis that might give you a sense of how to use the theory and provide proper context for your analysis. We might imagine discovering the following paragraph several pages into the argument:

Although Freire argues that liberation education culminates in a collective effort to change the world, Max’s efforts in this regard fail to embrace the communitarian philosophy that Freire espouses. Freire insists that education and knowledge may only exist in dialogue—in the open exchange of ideas between equal partners engaged in a process of mutual inquiry (88). For Freire, these moments of co-inquiry inevitably lead to praxis—where the views, ideas, and values held by a community are used to transform the world into a more democratic and free society (75). While Max is keen to change the world, shaping it to his needs and wants, his praxis is always self-interested; he fails to understand Freire’s imperatives of community, dialogue, and consensus. In essence, rather than shape the world with others, as Freire implores, Max insists on altering the world for himself alone.

Perhaps the most revealing instance of Max’s failed praxis is his effort to construct a world-class aquarium on the Rushmore campus. [Blah, blah, blah].

A key feature of this sort of theoretical analysis is that you will use the words and terms and ideas Freire offers in his theory to help you perform the analysis of the film. So we might bring Freire in at key moments in our discussion of the aquarium to explain how what Max is doing is not what Freire would advocate and explicily demonstrate that by quoting and citing key parts of Freire’s essay to help prove our case.

Analyzing Visual Media

Analyzing Visual Media

Stills from Rushmore

When we analyze a film we can do much more than merely discuss the narrative arc or the dialog. The movie is a visual medium, so how do the visual elements help to convey meaning? Costuming, gestures, body positioning, props, camera angles, lighting, framing, etc. help to construct a mood and signify meanings that we may interpret. In short, a film is a text. And when we write about film, we pay attention to how it is constructed to produce these effects by performing “close readings” in our analysis. We might practice by reading one or more of these stills:

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