Spartacus Movie/Book Compare Contrast

The primary source: Spartacus (on Blackboard)

The movie to watch: Spartacus (1960, directed by Stanley Kubrick, starring Kirk Douglas).

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Due date: November 24th via turnitin



This assignment requires you to formulate some kind of a position regarding first hand and contemporary accounts of historical events (Spartacus readings on blackboard). I will be looking for your essay to have a clear thesis (a central argument) and to support that thesis with specific examples drawn from the primary source. Do no other research beyond the primary sources themselves and watching the movie.


This will be a 1-2 page paper, in which you compare/contrast the various primary source documents with the Kirk Douglass film about the Spartacus Rebellion. YOU DO NOT NEED TO ANY RESEARCH BEYOND THE READINGS PROVIDED ON BLACKBOARD.


What Kind of Paper are You Writing?

You are being asked to write an analytic paper. This means that it is argumentative. “Argumentative” does not necessarily mean combative or adversarial, rather, it means that the paper is motivated by a point that you are trying to prove in the paper. Therefore, a TOPIC sentence (in this paper I will explore…) is not sufficient for this paper. All analytic papers have something called a THESIS in it. A thesis is a carefully articulated position or argument that gives your paper shape, purpose, and direction. A good thesis usually sets up the organization of paper. (If your thesis is nothing more than some fact, or it is an opinion that is too black and white, you cannot argue it compellingly for the remainder of a paper. What generally happens in papers like these is that the writer states a fact as his thesis, thinking that this is an argument, and merely spends the rest of the paper reiterating this fact in other ways. The paper goes nowhere or rambles without any organization.) If you choose an appropriate thesis from the beginning, the rest of the paper does not repeat itself, rather it takes interesting directions— building on itself, qualifying and enhancing the argument, or whatever. Let’s see what bad and better thesis statements looks like:


Thesis 1: (Bad: not provable and moralistic)


The slave masters were wrong for feeding the slaves so poorly.

I think they were bad to treat the slaves that way

Hollywood always romanticizes historical figures (can this be proven in 3pages with sources at hand?)


Thesis 2: (Better: analytic and organized)


Food was not only a necessary diet base, but was also used as a form of incentive, punishment, and entertainment for slaves.


Thesis 3: (Bad: personal/vague and not unique to the author)


I found that the movie did not always agree with the primary sources.

The primary sources and the movie were different.


Thesis 4: (Better: analytic and specific, able to organize the argument)


The accounts of the Spartacus Rebellion depicted in the movie and by Sallust, Livy, and Orosius disagree on Spartacus’ religion, strategy, and legacy.


Questions to ask yourself when structuring your thesis:

Is this claim too open-ended to argue well in the length of the paper?
Does this thesis lend itself to using your sources (books, articles, primary sources, interviews) effectively? (Typically, a paper that can use sources effectively feels more grounded and well argued. If no sources are needed to prove your claim, it may be too vague.)
Is your claim sufficiently qualified with the necessary specifications of time, place, situation, and/or persons or people you’re arguing about?
Is your argument unique to you?

Body of the paper: In the body of the paper you will use the material you discovered in your research (in this case your reading of Spartacus primary sources on blackboard) to show the proof of your argument stated in the thesis sentence. The paper should have good organization, leading from paragraph to paragraph with clear transition statements. Each paragraph should start with a topic sentence that introduces the next bit of your argument and ties it to the previous statement.

As evidence to prove your argument, you need to quote carefully chosen material from your research. Any direct quotes should be placed in quotation marks and footnoted. Any ideas or facts from your readings should also be cited even if not quoting directly. For this paper simply add the author and page in the book in parenthesis. (Livy, 34).

Remember not to just throw in a quote without any explanation. You need to integrate the quotes into your writing to explain to the reader how they help to support your argument. Therefore it is good neither to start nor end the paper with a quote.

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