Assignment #1 (Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass)

Due: Friday, January 25 by 11:59pm.

How would you recreate the heard worlds of Frederick Douglass’ autobiography?

You have been asked to design the soundtrack for a film based on the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Write a 500-750 word proposal in which you describe the sounds that you would include in such a soundtrack, as well as your rationale for including those sounds in your design. Try to be as detailed and descriptive as possible about the sounds you would include, paying attention to qualities such as texture, density, rhythm, simultaneity, pacing, voices, etc. You should also consider the sounds that you would deliberately NOT include in the soundtrack and your rationale for excluding them.

In writing your proposal consider the following:

  • What would be the “keynote sounds” (Smith, 159) of your soundtrack? Be sure to explain how these keynote sounds are connected to the social, cultural, economic, and political worlds described by Douglass.
  • Use specific passages, events, or descriptions from Douglass’ text to illuminate your choices. You may choose to describe the soundtrack for a particular scene or sequence of events in the text as a means of illustrating your sound choices and your rationale for them.
  • It is up to you to decide whether the film is a documentary, a historical epic drama, a biopic, or some other form entirely. There are also a variety of stylistic options within those genres that will affect the soundtrack design. For example, both Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained are historical dramas, but they have entirely different styles and modes of representation. Your choices for the soundtrack will certainly be influenced these issues of representation and you should take them into account as you design the soundtrack and refer to them in your rationale.
  • While the formal constraints of this assignment are limited (in other words, this is not an “essay” in a strict sense) you should nevertheless develop a clear stance on the material and use evidence from the texts we have engaged thus far in class to support your ideas. Page numbers and other references to the texts must be included as necessary. In addition, your post should be well-written, concise, and free of typos, spelling and grammatical errors.