Assignment Instructions

Workload 57 Abrams Essay Topics for Shattered Glass The film (as well as the actual historical events) lends itself to comparative, classification, or cause and effect analysis. Choose ONE of the following topics for your essay. 1. Analyze the similarities and/or differences between any two characters in the film. 2. Analyze the women in the film and their relationship to Stephen Glass. What accounts for their gullibility? 3. Why does it take Charles so long to recognize Stephen’s lies? 4. Charles says they found Stephen “entertaining.” Later readers of his stories have said that they are obviously false, and the magazine editors should have recognized that immediately. Why didn’t they? (You can find the articles online. They include “Spring Breakdown,” “Hack Heaven,” “Don’t you Dare,” “Monica Sells.”) Find any cause/effect, classification, or comparative focus that you like, and write an analysis. Remember that these methods of analysis are not ends in themselves. Instead, they are methods to get at something about this story that isn’t obvious on the surface. You want to arrive at an argument.   “When people can no longer believe what they read, their only choices will be either to turn to television for their daily news or to stop seeking out news entirely. Either path, I think, is a very dangerous one for this country.”—Billy Ray, writer and Director, Shattered Glass. “A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story, you feel uplifted, . . . then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. . . . In any war story, but especially a true one, it’s difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen.”—from “How to Tell a True War Story,” by Tim O’Brien (in the short story collection The Things They Carried). The following are some study questions you might use in developing your own analysis of Shattered Glass. These are not the actual topics; these questions are simply meant to help you think about the many issues the film raises. As well, think about the questions and/or comments you generated for our discussion. 1. What is wrong with Stephen Glass? What motivates him? Describe and analyze the exchanges in the film when you began to suspect him. 2. This is largely a story of parallels between young men: Stephen Glass, Adam Pennenberg, Charles Lane, and Michael Kelly. What do they all have in common? What qualities allow two of them to prevail in the end? 3. In the narrative, Stephen Glass begins by saying that personal relationships are the most important element of good journalism. How would you contrast Stephen’s “success” in personal relationships with Chuck’s “difficulties”? 4. How do you account for his colleagues’ failure to pick up on Stephen’s dishonesty? To what degree do you think Stephen’s colleagues bear some of the blame for failing to suspect he was lying to them? Why do they continue to defend him? 5. Some analysts have said that this story is about the relationship of truth to fiction. Is there any way in which the pieces Glass wrote were “true”? If so, how? 6. This quarter we will be discussing logical failures. This is a story about an ethical failure. Is there a way in which faulty logic may have led to ethical lapses in this case? Can you apply any logical fallacies to the incidents portrayed in the film? Supplemental material for Shattered Glass assignment. It’s difficult to write about a movie you’ve seen only once, so I’m providing you with some “focusing questions” and some quotations, just to stir your memory. Focusing Questions: 1. The median age of the reporters is 26. Does their youth contribute to their behavior? Did their relationships remind you of high school? 2. Why is Charles Lane the only character in the film whose personal life we see (home, wife, and baby)? Note the scene that contrasts Chuck’s life at home with Stephen sleeping in the office. 3. What was the purpose of presenting the “scenes” of Stephen’s stories as if they had really happened? 4. What was the purpose of the frame of Stephen speaking to a high school class? 5. What is the purpose of all the repetition in the film? Stephen says the same things over and over (some are noted in the quotations; you may have noticed others). 6. When Chuck says, “Stop pitching, Steve. It’s over,” were you sympathetic to him or to Stephen? 7. The director said that the first half of the movie is about Stephen, and the second half is about Chuck. Is that how you perceived it? 8. You may be interested to learn that the conference call between the online magazine staff and Steve and Chuck was an exact transcript of what really happened. With the exception of the high school section, the film represents almost exactly what happened all the way through (including Steve walking around in his socks). Selected Quotations: Stephen Glass: 1. “You have to know who you’re writing for, and you have to know what you’re good at.” 2. “I find out what moves people and what scares them, and I write about that. Those kinds of pieces can win Pulitzers too.” 3. “If you’re a little bit humble, you stand out.” 4. “Your work can influence public policy.” 5. “A great editor defends his writers against anyone. He stands up for them.” 6. “It’s probably nothing.” 7. “That lipstick is the bomb.” 8. “This is The New Republic, remember? Nothing slides here. If you don’t have it cold, you don’t turn it in. Ever.” 9. “Are you mad at me?” 10. “It’s really silly. I’ll probably just kill it.” 11. “Did I do something wrong?” 12. “I said to him, ‘Chuck, why didn’t you back me up?’ And he said, ‘I have to protect the magazine; I’m the editor.’” 13. “I didn’t do anything wrong, Chuck! You’re supposed to support me.” 14. “If you want me to say that I made it up, I will. If it will help you, I’ll say that.” Chuck Lane: 1. “That’s a pretty hard act to follow.” 2. “That’s weird.” 3. “I just want you to tell me the truth. Can you do this?” 4. “This is something a troubled kid has done.” 5. “He lied to his editor. That’s supposed to offend you.” 6. (To Stephen, at the end) “Yeah. It’s a really good story.” 7. “Stop pitching, Steve. It’s over.” 8. (To Caitlin) “He cooked a dozen pieces, maybe more. Go back. Read them again. Half of them were written when Mike was editor.” 9. “Caitlin, you’ve always been such a smart, thorough reporter. Why can’t you be one now?” 10. “We blew it. He gave us fiction after fiction, and we printed them as fact, just because we found him entertaining. It’s indefensible. Don’t you know that?” 11. “That’s funny. Because I thought I was going to have to explain this to you.” Other characters: 1. “If they sink any lower, you won’t be able to tell the difference between Time and People.” “You say that as if there is a difference between Time and People.” 2. “I don’t respond to ‘Are you mad at me.’ I’m not your kindergarten teacher.” 3. “The readers don’t want policy. They want color humor, and nuance.” 4. “When did you start talking to George?” (George was a political magazine started by John F. Kennedy, Jr.). 5. “When did you start talking to Harper’s?” 6. Caitlin to Amy: “Is that what you want? A bunch of editors sniffing up your ass?” Amy: “Yes, yes it is!”. Workload 57
Abrams
Essay Topics for Shattered Glass
The film (as well as the actual historical events) lends itself to comparative, classification, or cause and effect analysis. Choose ONE of the following topics for your essay.
1. Analyze the similarities and/or differences between any two characters in the film.
2. Analyze the women in the film and their relationship to Stephen Glass. What accounts for their gullibility?
3. Why does it take Charles so long to recognize Stephen’s lies?
4. Charles says they found Stephen “entertaining.” Later readers of his stories have said that they are obviously false, and the magazine editors should have recognized that immediately. Why didn’t they? (You can find the articles online. They include “Spring Breakdown,” “Hack Heaven,” “Don’t you Dare,” “Monica Sells.”)
Find any cause/effect, classification, or comparative focus that you like, and write an analysis. Remember that these methods of analysis are not ends in themselves. Instead, they are methods to get at something about this story that isn’t obvious on the surface. You want to arrive at an argument.
“When people can no longer believe what they read, their only choices will be either to turn to television for their daily news or to stop seeking out news entirely. Either path, I think, is a very dangerous one for this country.”—Billy Ray, writer and Director, Shattered Glass.
“A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story, you feel uplifted, . . . then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. . . . In any war story, but especially a true one, it’s difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen.”—from “How to Tell a True War Story,” by Tim O’Brien (in the short story collection The Things They Carried).
The following are some study questions you might use in developing your own analysis of Shattered Glass. These are not the actual topics; these questions are simply meant to help you think about the many issues the film raises. As well, think about the questions and/or comments you generated for our discussion.
1. What is wrong with Stephen Glass? What motivates him? Describe and analyze the exchanges in the film when you began to suspect him.
2. This is largely a story of parallels between young men: Stephen Glass, Adam Pennenberg, Charles Lane, and Michael Kelly. What do they all have in common? What qualities allow two of them to prevail in the end?
3. In the narrative, Stephen Glass begins by saying that personal relationships are the most important element of good journalism. How would you contrast Stephen’s “success” in personal relationships with Chuck’s “difficulties”?
4. How do you account for his colleagues’ failure to pick up on Stephen’s dishonesty? To what degree do you think Stephen’s colleagues bear some of the blame for failing to suspect he was lying to them? Why do they continue to defend him?
5. Some analysts have said that this story is about the relationship of truth to fiction. Is there any way in which the pieces Glass wrote were “true”? If so, how?
6. This quarter we will be discussing logical failures. This is a story about an ethical failure. Is there a way in which faulty logic may have led to ethical lapses in this case? Can you apply any logical fallacies to the incidents portrayed in the film?
Supplemental material for Shattered Glass assignment.
It’s difficult to write about a movie you’ve seen only once, so I’m providing you with some “focusing questions” and some quotations, just to stir your memory.
Focusing Questions:
1. The median age of the reporters is 26. Does their youth contribute to their behavior? Did their relationships remind you of high school?
2. Why is Charles Lane the only character in the film whose personal life we see (home, wife, and baby)? Note the scene that contrasts Chuck’s life at home with Stephen sleeping in the office.
3. What was the purpose of presenting the “scenes” of Stephen’s stories as if they had really happened?
4. What was the purpose of the frame of Stephen speaking to a high school class?
5. What is the purpose of all the repetition in the film? Stephen says the same things over and over (some are noted in the quotations; you may have noticed others).
6. When Chuck says, “Stop pitching, Steve. It’s over,” were you sympathetic to him or to Stephen?
7. The director said that the first half of the movie is about Stephen, and the second half is about Chuck. Is that how you perceived it?
8. You may be interested to learn that the conference call between the online magazine staff and Steve and Chuck was an exact transcript of what really happened. With the exception of the high school section, the film represents almost exactly what happened all the way through (including Steve walking around in his socks).
Selected Quotations:
Stephen Glass:
1. “You have to know who you’re writing for, and you have to know what you’re good at.”
2. “I find out what moves people and what scares them, and I write about that. Those kinds of pieces can win Pulitzers too.”
3. “If you’re a little bit humble, you stand out.”
4. “Your work can influence public policy.”
5. “A great editor defends his writers against anyone. He stands up for them.”
6. “It’s probably nothing.”
7. “That lipstick is the bomb.”
8. “This is The New Republic, remember? Nothing slides here. If you don’t have it cold, you don’t turn it in. Ever.”
9. “Are you mad at me?”
10. “It’s really silly. I’ll probably just kill it.”
11. “Did I do something wrong?”
12. “I said to him, ‘Chuck, why didn’t you back me up?’ And he said, ‘I have to protect the magazine; I’m the editor.’”
13. “I didn’t do anything wrong, Chuck! You’re supposed to support me.”
14. “If you want me to say that I made it up, I will. If it will help you, I’ll say that.”
Chuck Lane:
1. “That’s a pretty hard act to follow.”
2. “That’s weird.”
3. “I just want you to tell me the truth. Can you do this?”
4. “This is something a troubled kid has done.”
5. “He lied to his editor. That’s supposed to offend you.”
6. (To Stephen, at the end) “Yeah. It’s a really good story.”
7. “Stop pitching, Steve. It’s over.”
8. (To Caitlin) “He cooked a dozen pieces, maybe more. Go back. Read them again. Half of them were written when Mike was editor.”
9. “Caitlin, you’ve always been such a smart, thorough reporter. Why can’t you be one now?”
10. “We blew it. He gave us fiction after fiction, and we printed them as fact, just because we found him entertaining. It’s indefensible. Don’t you know that?”
11. “That’s funny. Because I thought I was going to have to explain this to you.”
Other characters:
1. “If they sink any lower, you won’t be able to tell the difference between Time and People.” “You say that as if there is a difference between Time and People.”
2. “I don’t respond to ‘Are you mad at me.’ I’m not your kindergarten teacher.”
3. “The readers don’t want policy. They want color humor, and nuance.”
4. “When did you start talking to George?” (George was a political magazine started by John F. Kennedy, Jr.).
5. “When did you start talking to Harper’s?”
6. Caitlin to Amy: “Is that what you want? A bunch of editors sniffing up your ass?” Amy: “Yes, yes it is!”

Workload 57 Abrams Essay Topics for Shattered Glass The film (as well as the actual historical events) lends itself to comparative, classification, or cause and effect analysis. Choose ONE of the following topics for your essay. 1. Analyze the similarities and/or differences between any two characters in the film. 2. Analyze the women in the film and their relationship to Stephen Glass. What accounts for their gullibility? 3. Why does it take Charles so long to recognize Stephen’s lies? 4. Charles says they found Stephen “entertaining.” Later readers of his stories have said that they are obviously false, and the magazine editors should have recognized that immediately. Why didn’t they? (You can find the articles online. They include “Spring Breakdown,” “Hack Heaven,” “Don’t you Dare,” “Monica Sells.”) Find any cause/effect, classification, or comparative focus that you like, and write an analysis. Remember that these methods of analysis are not ends in themselves. Instead, they are methods to get at something about this story that isn’t obvious on the surface. You want to arrive at an argument.   “When people can no longer believe what they read, their only choices will be either to turn to television for their daily news or to stop seeking out news entirely. Either path, I think, is a very dangerous one for this country.”—Billy Ray, writer and Director, Shattered Glass. “A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story, you feel uplifted, . . . then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. . . . In any war story, but especially a true one, it’s difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen.”—from “How to Tell a True War Story,” by Tim O’Brien (in the short story collection The Things They Carried). The following are some study questions you might use in developing your own analysis of Shattered Glass. These are not the actual topics; these questions are simply meant to help you think about the many issues the film raises. As well, think about the questions and/or comments you generated for our discussion. 1. What is wrong with Stephen Glass? What motivates him? Describe and analyze the exchanges in the film when you began to suspect him. 2. This is largely a story of parallels between young men: Stephen Glass, Adam Pennenberg, Charles Lane, and Michael Kelly. What do they all have in common? What qualities allow two of them to prevail in the end? 3. In the narrative, Stephen Glass begins by saying that personal relationships are the most important element of good journalism. How would you contrast Stephen’s “success” in personal relationships with Chuck’s “difficulties”? 4. How do you account for his colleagues’ failure to pick up on Stephen’s dishonesty? To what degree do you think Stephen’s colleagues bear some of the blame for failing to suspect he was lying to them? Why do they continue to defend him? 5. Some analysts have said that this story is about the relationship of truth to fiction. Is there any way in which the pieces Glass wrote were “true”? If so, how? 6. This quarter we will be discussing logical failures. This is a story about an ethical failure. Is there a way in which faulty logic may have led to ethical lapses in this case? Can you apply any logical fallacies to the incidents portrayed in the film? Supplemental material for Shattered Glass assignment. It’s difficult to write about a movie you’ve seen only once, so I’m providing you with some “focusing questions” and some quotations, just to stir your memory. Focusing Questions: 1. The median age of the reporters is 26. Does their youth contribute to their behavior? Did their relationships remind you of high school? 2. Why is Charles Lane the only character in the film whose personal life we see (home, wife, and baby)? Note the scene that contrasts Chuck’s life at home with Stephen sleeping in the office. 3. What was the purpose of presenting the “scenes” of Stephen’s stories as if they had really happened? 4. What was the purpose of the frame of Stephen speaking to a high school class? 5. What is the purpose of all the repetition in the film? Stephen says the same things over and over (some are noted in the quotations; you may have noticed others). 6. When Chuck says, “Stop pitching, Steve. It’s over,” were you sympathetic to him or to Stephen? 7. The director said that the first half of the movie is about Stephen, and the second half is about Chuck. Is that how you perceived it? 8. You may be interested to learn that the conference call between the online magazine staff and Steve and Chuck was an exact transcript of what really happened. With the exception of the high school section, the film represents almost exactly what happened all the way through (including Steve walking around in his socks). Selected Quotations: Stephen Glass: 1. “You have to know who you’re writing for, and you have to know what you’re good at.” 2. “I find out what moves people and what scares them, and I write about that. Those kinds of pieces can win Pulitzers too.” 3. “If you’re a little bit humble, you stand out.” 4. “Your work can influence public policy.” 5. “A great editor defends his writers against anyone. He stands up for them.” 6. “It’s probably nothing.” 7. “That lipstick is the bomb.” 8. “This is The New Republic, remember? Nothing slides here. If you don’t have it cold, you don’t turn it in. Ever.” 9. “Are you mad at me?” 10. “It’s really silly. I’ll probably just kill it.” 11. “Did I do something wrong?” 12. “I said to him, ‘Chuck, why didn’t you back me up?’ And he said, ‘I have to protect the magazine; I’m the editor.’” 13. “I didn’t do anything wrong, Chuck! You’re supposed to support me.” 14. “If you want me to say that I made it up, I will. If it will help you, I’ll say that.” Chuck Lane: 1. “That’s a pretty hard act to follow.” 2. “That’s weird.” 3. “I just want you to tell me the truth. Can you do this?” 4. “This is something a troubled kid has done.” 5. “He lied to his editor. That’s supposed to offend you.” 6. (To Stephen, at the end) “Yeah. It’s a really good story.” 7. “Stop pitching, Steve. It’s over.” 8. (To Caitlin) “He cooked a dozen pieces, maybe more. Go back. Read them again. Half of them were written when Mike was editor.” 9. “Caitlin, you’ve always been such a smart, thorough reporter. Why can’t you be one now?” 10. “We blew it. He gave us fiction after fiction, and we printed them as fact, just because we found him entertaining. It’s indefensible. Don’t you know that?” 11. “That’s funny. Because I thought I was going to have to explain this to you.” Other characters: 1. “If they sink any lower, you won’t be able to tell the difference between Time and People.” “You say that as if there is a difference between Time and People.” 2. “I don’t respond to ‘Are you mad at me.’ I’m not your kindergarten teacher.” 3. “The readers don’t want policy. They want color humor, and nuance.” 4. “When did you start talking to George?” (George was a political magazine started by John F. Kennedy, Jr.). 5. “When did you start talking to Harper’s?” 6. Caitlin to Amy: “Is that what you want? A bunch of editors sniffing up your ass?” Amy: “Yes, yes it is!”

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