Department - Author 1

Communication Studies Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BA in Communication Studies



Primary Advisor

Chris Skiles


This project analyzes the plot of Denzel Washington’s 2007 film The Great Debaters alongside the Urban Debate League Movement in the intercollegiate policy debate community. Using anthropologist and hermeneutic critic Paul Ricouer’s conception of mimesis, the plot of the film is critiqued by its prenarrative assumptions, relationship to present time and its refiguration into the modern Urban Debate League Movement. Narrative elements such as character development and thematic representation are used to explain the influence exerted by the film. This research implies that the film The Great Debaters can be read over the development of the modern Urban Debate League Movement because of their shared symbolic practices and understandings.