Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts




English (Literature)

First Advisor

Donna Niday


This thesis examines the potential role of film study in the secondary English and Language Arts classroom. Highlighting the frustrated current pedagogical relationship between most secondary instructors and film, it seeks to provide educators with resources to assist them in weaving motion pictures into their classrooms. Specifically, it describes using film to teach secondary students fundamental concepts of postcolonial critical theory. As a result, the thesis addresses three overarching questions: 1) To what extent can the study of film serve as a pedagogical tool in the secondary English classroom? 2) What strategies and concepts can instructors use to make the study of film in their classrooms a reality? 3) How can the study of film be used as a means of postcolonial theory? Three films comprise the thesis’s central focus: Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and James Cameron’s Avatar (2009).

By focusing on the medium’s ability to develop visual literacy skills—stressed by both NCTE and IRA as vital for students in the twenty-first century—the thesis provides ways that film can serve as a rich topic of analysis that both challenges and engages students. In addition, it focuses specific attention on using films to help students visualize and connect with postcolonial critical theory. The three films selected for examination in both the critical essays and the corresponding curricular design, in particular, embody and represent several areas of focus common to postcolonial analysis. A comprehensive literature review of film pedagogy and two critical essays on the selected films are paired with a curricular design consisting of ten lesson plans, complete with handouts, assessments, and instructional notes for educators to use in their own classrooms. Combined, these artifacts provide cogent arguments that film both can and should be included in the secondary curriculum as it links students’ inherent interest in multimedia content with the essential analytical and critical thinking skills that make up the heart of every English classroom.


Copyright Owner

Lucas Alan Rodewald



File Format


File Size

138 pages