181: Introduction to Film, Video,
Fall 2005, UWEC
Professor Bob Nowlan
Number: (715) 836-4369
Office Hours: MWF
12-1 p.m., M 11 p.m. to 12 midnight, T 5-7 p.m.,
W 10-11 p.m, and By
Section 001: M
3-6:30 pm (Screenings)
and W 3:45-6:15 pm
(Discussions), HHH 323
and Sean Fogarty
Section 002: M
7-10:30 pm (Screenings)
and W 7:30-10 pm
(Discussions), HHH 323
and Juli Pitzer
English 181: Introduction to Film, Video, and
Moving-Image Culture is an introduction to the critical
study of film
and video: to the interpretation and evaluation of film and video in
includes everything that we, as human
beings, have created in the course of our entire history, in
distinction from what nature itself has given us. Specific
cultures (as well as specific subcultures)
comprise the sum total of
the particular knowledges, capacities, fields of work (and fields of
play), customs and habits, traditions, values and attitudes, social
roles and identities, and shared ways of thinking, feeling, acting,
interacting, and behaving that characterize and, more importantly than
merely characterize, that internally unify and externally differentiate
particular regions, classes, and other social groups.
Film and video constitute principal constituents of
culture (i.e., culture produced, distributed,
exchanged, and consumed in the form of constellations of
human culture at large, and 3.) myriad specific
national, regional, local, racial, ethnic, class, gender, sexual,
generational, political, religious, artistic, philosophical,
recreational, and avocational cultures (and subcultures).
the sake of simplicity of expression, I will refer from this point
forward in much of the rest of this course explanation statement to
'films' when I am actually describing films, videos, and other kinds of
moving-image cultural productions.)
Throughout the history of world cinema, three
principal objectives have driven forward the production, distribution,
exhibition, and reception of film:
1.) the provision of entertainment,
especially as diversion,
distraction, and amusement;
expression and communication-concerned with aesthetic
issues such as capturing and conveying the felt experience of the
ordinary and the extraordinary, the everyday and the unusual, the
familiar and the unfamiliar, and, especially, "the beautiful" and "the
sublime"-in both the natural world and human society;
critique-as contribution to, and instrument of, social
Many films, as well as many cinemas, aspire to meet two or three of
these goals, often employing one as means toward the achievement of at
least one of the other two (e.g., artistic expression as a vehicle of
social critique). Yet it is still useful, in beginning to come to
terms with the aims of different kinds of film and cinema, to recognize
these as primarily oriented toward serving one of these three
here refers to a particular institutional form
governing the production, distribution, exhibition, and reception of a
series of films, especially a series of films sharing common subjects,
styles, social vantage points, and cultural backgrounds: e.g., “German
Expressionist Cinema,” “Classical Narrative Realist Hollywood Cinema,”
“Italian Neo-Realist Cinema,” “French New Wave Cinema,” “Dogme 95
Cinema,” “1960s American Underground Cinema,” “British Free Cinema,”
and “The New Queer Cinema.”)
The kinds of pleasures film can provide us in fact
come in many forms, at times quite complicated and sophisticated,
including those that usefully subvert culturally dominant ways of
making sense. Yet Hollywood (along
with other, allied sectors of
the bottom-line profit-driven, corporate capitalist, multinational
conglomerate mass media) often encourages us to approach the pleasure
we experience from film primarily, if not exclusively, as a purely
escapist form of entertainment. In other words, Hollywood
frequently encourages us to retreat from, rather than to confront,
understand, and strive to overcome life's problems and difficulties.
What's more, even when mainstream media productions
do address serious issues, they often do so in reductively simplistic
and sentimentally trivializing ways. Usually they don't extend
messages quite as trite as "everything always turns out for the best,"
"don't worry, be happy," "crime never pays," or "good always triumphs
over evil," yet they still usually embrace, rather than critique,
cultural clichés. For example, a film might suggest that
hard work and a positive outlook on life will overcome all obstacles,
or that the support of a loving family and true friends should be all
we ever need to pick us up when and if we are down and need help, or
that heroic individuals can always defeat even the most brutal (ab)uses
of state and corporate power.
At the same time, another popular current in
contemporary Hollywood film rejects, even mocks, these naive attitudes
but does so only to support a cynical view of contemporary social
existence as an alienated quest for survival in an essentially selfish,
corrupt, and vicious world where might makes right, style (in the sense
of superficial "flash" and "glitter") matters far more than substance,
and maintaining an outward facade of cool, confident control, along
with a pose of proudly defiant self-reliance, always trump
manifestations of fellow feeling, shared concern, and social
solidarity. In addition, of course, other common trends in
contemporary Hollywood involve making films a.) that function as little
more than opportunities to demonstrate the look, sound, and feel of the
latest special effects technology, or b.) that delight in facile forms
of pseudo-comedy-comedy devoid of wit, charm, and even humor-so as to
revel in the gross, the mean, and the cruel.
Contemporary Hollywood films often tend, moreover,
to discourage us not only from questioning, challenging, and critiquing
the social status quo but also from thinking for ourselves as we come
to terms with what they represent to us in the course of our experience
watching (and listening to) them. These films frequently tell
tales that represent "the way things are" as simply "the way they have
to be"-or, even more insidious than that, as "the only way they can and
should be." They manufacture worlds that comfort us with
infantilizing illusions that we are invited to accept, without
question, at least for the duration of a film, as the simple equivalent
of "reality" itself. They insert us into positions within the
illusory worlds they construct such that we experience no incentive to
reflect either upon the process of construction or the meaning of
illusion, where we are reassuringly protected from having to confront
any genuinely unsettling thoughts or feelings-i.e., thoughts or
feelings that linger to trouble us long after the film has ended.
These films, moreover, flatter us by providing us with a false sense of
our omniscience-false because these films not only do our seeing and
hearing for us but also because they attempt to take charge as well of
our thinking, feeling, reacting, and responding in relation to
virtually everything we encounter from the beginning to the end of the
film's running time.
In this course we will reflect critically upon the
processes of manipulation I have just recounted as well as examine a
number of alternative models of film production and reception that
challenge this interpellation of the film spectator-auditor
(viewer-listener) into the position of uncritical, passive
consumer. In fact, the films we screen in class will primarily
represent this–latter–kind of cinema. Yet we will also carefully
consider the contradictions involved in processes of film production,
distribution, exhibition, and reception that spark usefully critical
engagements with even the most "conservative," "mind-numbing,"
"desensitizing," and "trivializing" forms of mainstream Hollywood
"blockbuster" film. In other words, we will seek at all
inquire critically into how and why films, of all kinds, appeal as they
do, to whom, when, where, and in response to what needs and desires,
rather than simply judging them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, as ‘likeable’ or
‘unlikeable’, and as offering us occasions where we can readily
‘identity’ versus occasions where we cannot do so.
It is important that we subject film to critical
study because, over the course of the past 110 years, audio-visual
texts, especially audio-visual texts organized around the moving image,
have come to exert an extremely powerful impact upon the shape and
substance of individuals' lived experience of their relationship to the
conditions of their own existence. This impact is today
prospectively as powerful, if not indeed often considerably more
powerful, than that exerted by traditional print media. In fact,
film, television, video, and "cyberspace" have become principal sites
within our contemporary Western societies for the production and
dissemination, as well as the reproduction and reinforcement, of
meanings, values, ideas, ideologies, and social modes of thinking,
understanding, feeling, believing, acting, and interacting, even when
presented to us as "sheer entertainment."
This course will begin, first, with an introduction
to the rudiments of “critical media literacy” and the “elements of
meaning” involved in “reading film.” From that point, we will
turn, second, to learn about film makers' use (to express and
communicate meaning) of techniques of a.)”cinematography,”
b.) “mise-en-scène, “ c.) “editing,” and d.)
“sound.” We will here concentrate on influential and
innovative uses of these techniques, including representation from
"independent" film makers working outside of Hollywood and beyond the
United States as well as examples from historically significant
Hollywood films. After this, we will, third, inquire into the art
and politics of representation in (especially) American (primarily
Hollywood) film. In this third section of the course, we will
begin with an introduction to and overview of the study of
representation and ideology in film and related media, turn from there
to discuss the structure and history of Hollywood and allied as well as
alternative kinds of media institutions and industries, proceeding from
there to examine representations of issues of race and ethnicity,
class, gender, and sexuality in (especially American) film. Over
the course of the semester we will also study issues of narrative,
genre, globalization, technological development and innovation, and
‘realism’ and ‘anti-realism’ in film and related media, as well as
learn introductory models for beginning to write critically about these
kinds of ‘texts’.
The films I have selected to screen in this course
represent a critically acclaimed and historically influential
variety. As I see it, one of my principal responsibilities
in teaching this course, as an expert in cinema studies, is to
introduce you to titles of films, and kinds of film making-as well as
ways of interpreting and evaluating films-that you have not encountered
before. Like past students in the many English 190 classes
I have previously taught, I hope you too will come to appreciate the
opportunity this course provides for an "eye-opening" experience.
The following four required texts
are available for
purchase at the UWEC Bookstore:
1.) Kasdan, Margo, Christine Saxon, and Susan
Tavernetti. The Critical Eye:
an Introduction to Looking at
Movies. 3rd Edition, Revised Printing. Dubuque, IA:
2.) Benshoff, Harry and Sean Griffin. America
on Film: Representing Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality at the
Movies. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004.
3.) Corrigan, Timothy. A Short Guide to Writing
About Film. Fifth Edition. Pearson/Longman, 2004.
4). Branston, Gill and Roy Stafford. The Media
Student's Book. Third Edition. Routledge, 2003.
You may feel free to purchase these from any other
bookstore or book outlet, including by means of on-line ordering
outlets (such as amazon.com), as you wish, as long as you acquire them
in time to use in and for class.
I will supply copies of other required texts used in
the course in the form of photocopied handouts, weblinks, documents
posted on our Desire2Learn electronic classroom (which I will explain
in class before you first need to use it), and in other diverse forms.
CE=The Critical Eye
SG=A Sort Guide to Writing
MS=The Media Student’s
Introduction and Orientation.
M 9/12 Screening, Mulholland
W 9/14 Discussion, Introduction to
(Critical) Media Literacy and Mulholland
Class on W 9/14 at the Very
Latest: CE, “Chapter 1: Media Literacy,” 1-11; SG, “Chapter 1:
About Movies” and “Chapter Two: Beginning to Think, Preparing to Watch,
and Starting to Write,” 1-34.
M 9/19 Screening, The Devil’s
Backbone and The Return.
W 9/21 Discussion, Elements of
Meaning, The Devil’s Backbone,
and The Return.
Read–Completely–Before Class on W 9/21 at the Very
Latest: CE, “Chapter 2, “Elements of Meaning,” 13-32; SG, From
3–Film Terms and Topics for Film Analysis and Writing,” 35-46 (“Themes”
and “Film and the Other Arts”); MS, “Chapter 1: Meanings and Media,”
M 9/26 Screening, Fallen
Angels and City of God.
W 9/28 Discussion, Cinematography,
Fallen Angels, and City of God.
Class on W 9/28 at the Very
Latest: CE, “Chapter 3: The Camera Eye,” 33-60; SG, From
3–Film Terms and Topics for Film Analysis and Writing,” 56-62 (“The
Shot”); MS, From “Chapter 11: Production Techniques,” 313-320
(“Technical Codes in Video Production”).
M 10/3 Screening, Dogville.
W 10/5 Discussion,
Mise-en-Scène and Dogville.
Class on W 10/5 at the Very
Latest: CE, “Chapter 4: “Mise-en-Scène,” 61-90;
SG, From “Chapter 3–Film
Terms and Topics for Film Analysis and Writing,” 49-55 (“Elements
of Mise-en-Scène”); MS, From “Chapter 2: Narrative,”
32-42 (“General Theories of Narrative,” “Narration, Story and Plot,”
and “Narratives in Different Media”).
*** First Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper
Assigned. Before writing this paper, read SG, “Chapter 5: Style
and Structure in Writing,” 106-123, and Chapter 7, “Manuscript Form,”
154-170. Follow the guidelines for style, structure, and
manuscript form addressed in these chapters. ***
M 10/10 Screening, The Battle of
Algiers and Bloody Sunday.
W 10/12 Discussion, Editing, The
Battle of Algiers, and Bloody
Class on W 10/12 at the Very
Latest: CE, “Editing,” 91-108; SG, From
3–Film Terms and Topics for Film Analysis and Writing,”46-49
(“Realism”) and 62-69 (“The Edited Image”); MS, From “Chapter 11:
Production Techniques,” 320-326 (“‘Narrative Codes’ in Video
Production”), and all of “Chapter 17: Realisms,” 446-472.
M 10/17 Screening,
Apocalypse Now Redux.
W 10/19 Discussion, Sound and
Apocalypse Now Redux.
Class on W 10/19 at the Very
Latest: CE, “Chapter 6: Sound,” 109-126; SG, From
3–Film Terms and Topics for Film Analysis and Writing,” 70-78 (“Sound”
and “Sample Essay”); MS, “Chapter 16: Technologies,” 422-445.
F 10/21 by 5 pm: First Learning and Contribution
Reflection Paper Due in My English Department Office Mailbox,
HHH 405 ***
M 10/24 Screening, High Noon and
W 10/26 Discussion, Representation
and Ideology, High Noon, and Lone Star.
Class on W 10/26 at the Very
Latest: AF, “Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study of Film Form
Representation,” 1-22; MS, From “Chapter 4: Questions of
Representation,” 90-103 (“Case Study: Stereotyping,” “Representations
and Gender,” “Representations and the Real,” and “Questions of Changing
Representations”); MS, From “Chapter 5: Ideologies and Power,” 117-125
(“Origins of the Term: Marxist Approaches” and “Post-Marxism and
Critical Pluralism”); and MS, From “Chapter 6: Audiences,” 157-163
(“Semiotics and Audiences” and “Contexts of Reception and ‘Cultural
M 10/31 Screening, Sunset
Boulevard and The Player.
W 11/2 Discussion, Institutions
and Industries, Sunset Boulevard,
and The Player.
Class on W 11/2 at the Very
Latest: AF, “Chapter 2: The Structure and History of Hollywood
Filmmaking,” 23-46; CE, “Chapter 8: The American Industry,” 151-174;
MS, From “Chapter 3: ‘Genres’ and Other Classifications,” 59-60
(“Television and Cinema: Economics and Classification) and 73-80 (“The
Real and ‘Verisimilitude’,” “Case Study: Relating ‘September 11' to
Action-Entertainment Escapism,’ and ‘Repertoires of Elements”); MS,
From “Chapter 7: Institutions,” 182-190 (“Defining ‘Institution’ and
“An Institutional Analysis of Photography”); and MS, “Chapter 8:
M 11/7 Screening, American
History X and Slam.
W 11/9 Discussion, Race and
Ethnicity, American History X,
Class on W 11/9 at the Very
Latest: AF, “Introduction to Part II: What is Race?,” “The
Whiteness and American Film,” and “African Americans and American
M 11/14 Screening, The
Corporation and The Take.
W 11/16 Discussion, Class, The
Corporation, and The Take.
Class on W 11/16 at the Very
Latest: AF, “Introduction to Part III: What is Class?,”
Hollywood Cinema and Class,” and “Cinematic Class Struggle After the
Depression,” 157-199; MS, “Chapter 15: Globalisation,” 404-421; MS,
“Case Study: The Music Industry, Technology and Synergy,” 254-262.
Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper Assigned.
Before writing this paper, read SG, “Chapter 4: Six Approaches to
Writing About Film,” 79-105, and Chapter 6, “Researching the Movies,”
124-153. Follow the guidelines for approaches to writing about
film as well as for research addressed in these two chapters as you
develop and put together your paper. ***
M 11/21 Screening, Gilda and Dead
M 11/28 Screening, Antonia’s Line
and All About My Mother.
W 11/30 Discussion, Gender, Gilda,
Dead Reckoning, Antonia’s Line, and All About My Mother.
Class on W 11/30 at the Very
Latest: AF, “Part IV: Gender and American Film,” 201-290 (
“Introduction to Part IV: What is Gender?,” “Chapter 10: Women in
Classical Hollywood Filmmaking,” “Chapter 11: Exploring the Visual
Parameters of Women in Film,” “Chapter 12: Masculinity in
Classical Hollywood Filmmaking,” and “Chapter 13: Gender in American
Film Since the 1960s”).
*** F 12/2 by 5
pm: Second Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper
Due by 5 pm in My English Department Mailbox, HHH 405. ***
M 12/5 Screening, Kinsey and
W 12/7 Discussion, Sexuality Part
I, Kinsey, and Priest.
Class on W 12/7 at the Very
Latest: AF, “Part V: Sexuality and American Film,” 291-338
(“Introduction to Part V: What is Sexuality?,” “Chapter 14:
Heterosexuality, Homosexuality, and Classical Hollywood,” and “Chapter
15: Sexualities on Film Since the Sexual Revolution”); Nowlan,
“Introduction to Critical Theory of Sexuality” (To Be Made Available).
M 12/12 Screening, Y Tu
Mamá También, Yossi
and Jagger, and I Exist.
W 12/14 Discussion, Sexuality Part
II, Y Tu Mamá También,
Yossi and Jagger, and I
Final Examination Schedule for Section 001: M 12/19, 3-4:50 pm and W
12/21, 5-6:50 pm ***
Final Examination Schedule for Section 002: M 12/19, 7-8:50 pm
and W 12/21, 7-8:50 pm ***
*** THIS SCHEDULE IS
SUBJECT TO CHANGE
ORGANIZATION AND CONDUCT OF CLASS
On Mondays we will screen
films. We will take
a brief break of no more than five
minutes between each screening on
days in which we will screen more than one film. Students are
welcome to bring pillows, blankets, and folding lounge chairs to use if
you find these more comfortable than the classroom chairs. You
may also bring snacks as long as you take care to eat and drink quietly
as well as not to spill anything on the classroom carpet. Please
do be careful about this as we are meeting in an entirely newly
refurbished classroom and we’d like to try to keep it looking good for
as long as we can. Please also note well that occasionally
screening sessions will run longer than three and one-half hours, and
occasionally they will run shorter; students are expected to stay
through the end of screening sessions that run late, yet may leave as
soon as screening sessions that run short end-the time commitment will
all balance out.
On Wednesdays we
will discuss topics in film, video,
and moving-image culture study based upon the assigned readings for the
week as well as the films screened the previous Monday. From time
to time, I will show clips from the films screened the previous Monday
as well as, occasionally, DVD extras to initiate and stimulate
discussion. I will also, sometimes, show clips from other videos, DVDs,
websites, CD-Roms, and DVD-Roms to help explain and illustrate key
concepts. The student mentors and I likely will occasionally make
use of other kinds of equipment and associated materials to demonstrate
techniques, concepts, and practices as well.
I will direct our discussions, assisted by student
mentors James Boland, Sean Fogarty, Eddy Kaiser, and Juli Pitzer, and,
often, I will combine discussion with some extended opening comments
and relatively short, informal initial presentations of my own.
However, I will always ask you to help out as I introduce and explain
positions, concepts, methods, and practices. Wednesday classes
will involve extensive questioning of and discussion with students,
following a variety of formats. I always prefer to teach by way
of discussion as opposed to lecture; students learn better through
active engagement and dialogue with each other as well as with
me. Students will frequently spend portions of class time on
Wednesday afternoon working in small groups; students will also from
time to time prepare short written reflections either prior to or
during our Wednesday meetings to share with the rest of the class.
EXPECTATIONS OF STUDENTS
Although I expect that students enrolled in this
course do greatly appreciate and enjoy watching films (as I most
certainly do), and although I also suspect that a number of you may
have already had some experience in film production or may wish to
pursue this work in the future, as participants within this course
students should be sincerely interested in learning about the critical
study of film. I expect students in this course to be
consistently intellectually serious as well as academically
diligent. I expect students to strive to bring actively and
extensively to bear-in your writing for class essays and your
contributions to class discussion-insights you gain through your
engagement with the films we screen, the required readings, and the
topics these films and readings raise for our consideration.
Finally, I expect students to let me, Juli, Eddy, Sean, or James know
right away when and if you have any questions or problems in relation
to any aspect of how you are doing with the course, so that we can do
everything we possibly can to help answer these questions and solve
CHALLENGES, ACADEMIC FREEDOM, AND CURRICULAR INTEGRITY
The English Department aims to provide you with an
intellectually challenging education. This means we will often
include texts and introduce topics in our courses that candidly explore
adult issues, including ones that offer representations that may, on
occasion, prove unsettling, disturbing, and even offensive to some of
The higher educational academy is not a "safe space"
separate from the rest of the "real world" where you can expect to be
sheltered from encountering anything you might find disagreeable or
objectionable. On the contrary, we expect you to take up the
challenge to confront these kinds of texts and topics in a mature,
responsible way, and that means bringing directly to bear your negative
reactions-including your reactions of shock, dismay, and discontent-in
class discussions and in your writings and presentations for
class. If you find a position or practice represented in a text
or topic included in the assigned readings or screenings for class to
be objectionable, it is therefore of crucial importance that you raise
your objections openly and honestly, not simply claim personal
exemption from having to see, hear, or talk, read, and write about
these kinds of matters. After all, disturbing positions and
practices exist extensively outside of the classroom as well as in what
we read, see, hear, and otherwise confront in and for class; what we do
confront in class exists in this institutional space as symptomatic of
positions and practices that operate beyond the confines of the
classroom, the course, and the university. If and when you find
any text or topic genuinely appalling, you maintain the ethical
responsibility, as a mature adult and as a responsible citizen, not
simply to try to hide from these positions and practices but rather to
work to critique and change them.
Students should expect therefore that you may well
on occasion encounter representations that you will find troubling, in
this UWEC course and in many others as well; within this Department you
will receive no right of exemption from engaging with these and no
welcome for simply complaining (especially to a higher administrative
authority) about their inclusion. Instead you should bring your
objections forthrightly to bear in your contributions to class
discussion. Finally, to conclude this particular point of
discussion, a professor differs from a high school teacher in many
respects, but one key difference is that we maintain a principal
professional, ethical responsibility forthrightly to represent the most
advanced knowledges in our fields of expertise and to proceed from
there to work toward their further development and dissemination. In
short, we must create, advocate for, and profess these knowledges; you
should expect that your professors may from time to time take strong
and indeed controversial positions on difficult and challenging issues,
eschewing the pretense of disinterested neutrality. To do
anything less than assume this responsibility, and to do so with
alacrity, would be to shirk our professorial responsibility and to
render ourselves unworthy of maintaining our professorial position.
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE COURSE GRADE
In evaluating all work done for this course, I will
take account of how carefully, seriously, intelligently,
enthusiastically, and imaginatively students engage with the concepts,
issues, positions, and arguments addressed in the course and
represented by the films, videos, and other electronic texts we screen,
the graphic texts we read, by me, by the student mentors, and by each
This course cannot contribute effectively to your
education as critical students of film if you do not attend
class. What happens in class is an indispensable part of this
course. I will keep track of student attendance and therefore I
expect students to adhere to the following attendance policy for this
1.) Students should not exceed a maximum of three
2.) Students should provide me with written confirmation
of a serious,
individual or family emergency for any further–excused--absences
the maximum of three unexcused absences.
3.) Students who miss
more than seven classes total, for whatever
reason, should expect that they are unlikely to pass the course, and
withdraw from the course and enroll again in a
4.) Attendance at all classes in which films will be screened is
required as well, even if and when the films we screen are readily
available on video for you to watch and listen to elsewhere and at
another time. Also, I will note well any students who leave class
after the break during these screening sessions; not attending the
entire screening session (unless you have made arrangements with me
ahead of time to leave early) will count as an absence from class that
5.) Students are responsible for finding out and making up whatever you
miss if and when you do miss class.
Students are expected to arrive for class on time
and to stay through the very end of class. If you don’t do so,
you won’t be counted as attending class. In addition, you
need to be awake, alert, and attentive while in class; this means you
can’t expect to sleep or rest in class. Again, if you do so, this
will count as an absence from class. And the same is true of
doing other school work in class or attending to other–personal–matters
irrelevant to the focus of what we are about in this course (e.g.,
This is and Why it is
My foremost aim in teaching this course is to help
you to learn something of significance and value. I will judge
you to a significant degree on what you learn, how- and how hard-you
strive to learn, and on how-along with how well-you contribute to the
learning for the rest of the class.
You cannot learn or help others learn if you do not
contribute. If you don't contribute to the work of this
class not only will you fail to derive as much gain from it as would be
the case if you did contribute, but also you will deprive everyone else
of the benefit of your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, knowledge,
and experience. In fact, to remain passively silent in class
exploits the work of others who actively engage.
Class participation represents an important
opportunity to learn, not just a place in which to demonstrate what you
have learned. By raising questions, testing and trying out ideas,
taking risks and making mistakes, you learn a great deal-and help
others learn a great deal as well. You learn through
just talk to show what you have learned. Don't hesitate to
forth in class if you have anything at all to throw into the mix.
At the same time, just talking a great deal does not
necessarily mean that you are making a quality contribution to the
class by aiding the learning that we aim to accomplish. Quality
of participation is much more important than quantity, although
sufficient quantity is indispensable to insure quality. Still, I
want to emphasize here that I perceive talking for talking’s
sake–especially talking which pulls us off on far-fetched tangents,
which remains disconnected from and disengaged with the reading and the
rest of the class, or which effectively silences others–to be negative
Quality class participation does not, moreover,
involve merely asking questions of me and responding to my questions;
quality class participation requires you to work as assiduously as you
can to advance a serious and substantial discussion with your peers
about the texts and topics subject to discussion. Students should,
therefore, be prepared to engage with and respond to each other in
class discussion, and I will take particular note of how well you do so.
I would like you to come to class with strong
opinions on the topics of discussion, to be ready to share your
opinions with the class, and to be open-minded enough to debate your
own and others’ thoughts and to push them as far as they will go.
In evaluating class participation, I find the
following modification of a system designed by my colleague, Professor
Mary Ellen Alea, useful: A = Nearly daily response, and with
consistently useful, insightful comments and questions; B= Daily
response, with regular, relevant comments and questions; C = Less
frequent, occasional questions and comments; D = Almost always entirely
quiet; F= Engaging in behavior that disrupts the learning processes of
you and your fellow students, such as talking while others are
speaking, not paying attention in class, or doing other work or
attending to other interests during the time class is meeting.
Forms of Contribution
Contribution to the class certainly can extend far
beyond mere speaking in class: it may include a variety of ways in
which you can bring to bear your insights to help yourself as well as
the rest of us gain from the experience of this course.
Excellent writings for and in response to class (on Desire2Learn,
see below) and as part of your learning and contribution reflection
papers (see below as well) can help make up for limitations as far as
participation in class goes. At the same time, listening
carefully, respectfully, and thoughtfully in class discussions is yet
another important means of contribution–as is taking time to meet and
talk with me and with class mentors Sean Fogarty, Juli Pitzer, Eddy
Kaiser, and James Boland outside of class.
Learning and Contribution Reflection
Papers/Learning and Contribution Reflection Grades
Learning and contribution will constitute a major
proportion of your overall course grade. As part of this
grade, you will write two learning and contribution reflection
papers. For these papers I will ask you questions that will
require you to address what you have been learning as a student
enrolled in this course, and to assess how, along with how well, you
have been contributing to your own learning, and to that of others in
As I see it, these papers provide you a useful
opportunity to communicate with me how you believe you are doing with
the course, as well as why so, and to demonstrate your
self-reflexivity, the hallmark of a liberal arts education.
you are assessing your own learning and contribution, you may include
thoughts in reaction to issues raised in class discussion that you did
not have the opportunity or did not feel comfortable enough to share in
class; these additional reflections will help me get a better sense of
what you have been thinking about and how you have been responding to
class discussions, as well as to the readings. I will take into
account what you write in determining your learning and contribution
grade for the preceding semester period; performance on these papers
represents a vital component of your learning and contribution grade.
I will provide you specific directions in the
assignments I give you for each of these papers; please note well that
the questions you address will change from the first to the second to
the third reflection paper. These papers should be typed,
double-space, on single sides of standard white letter-sized (8"
X 11") typewriter, computer printer, or photographic paper. All
pages should be numbered, and you should place your name at the top of
each page. You may use any standard font you wish, yet you should
keep your point size between 10 and 12 points. Papers must be
stapled, and you are responsible for doing so, not me. You should
follow rules and conventions of Standard Written English and a
consistent, accurate format for citation and documentation of sources.
and contribution grades (including learning
and contribution reflection papers) will be worth the following
percentages of the overall course grade: #1, 20%, and #2, 35%.
The final exam will take place in two parts.
Part one of this exam will involve the screening of a film focusing on
issues related to the readings, screenings, and discussions of the last
seven classes of the semester. Part two will begin with the
screening of clips from or related to the film screened in part one,
followed by students taking time to address a multi-part essay question
in relation to this film and the issues it addresses. You may use
any textbooks, photocopied handouts, notes, guides, outlines, et. al.
you want as you on writing your final examination essay. The
final examination grade will be worth 20% of the overall course
grade. This grade will take into account your demonstrated
learning and contribution over the course of the past three and
one-half weeks (seven class periods) of the semester as well as the
quality of your response to the final examination essay
I have created a Desire2Learn electronic classroom
website for this class. Beyond me posting material here for you to
retrieve, I am also asking you periodically to post short reflections,
comments, and critiques on this site that engage with readings and
screenings in dialogue with your fellow classmates and with student
mentors Juli Pitzer, James Boland, Eddy Kaiser, and Sean Fogarty.
I will give you information on how to access this site at the beginning
of the semester.
Here's how this assignment will work. After
each Wednesday discussion class meeting you will have the opportunity
to post a reflection, comment, and/or critique on issues directly
related to the films and readings discussed in class that day.
Then, once your fellow students have posted their thoughts, you will
have the opportunity to write several posts responding to what your
classmates has just posted.
Your postings may be quite informal, yet you should
nevertheless try to write as clearly and cogently as possible. I
will also expect your postings to demonstrate you are taking each
I will ask Eddy, Sean, James, and Juli to offer
evaluations of how you have done with this work, and take into account
their recommendations in grading your Desire2Learn postings. This
will be a space where you can engage in discussion primarily with your
peers and with the mentors.
You need not post on Desire2Learn every week; I
expect you to write a minimum of nine posts
(initial and response) during the first half of the semester
(through the middle of the semester). I will then expect you to
write a minimum
of nine additional posts (initial and response) during the second half
of the semester. The amount of time you will have to work
with each assignment will vary, but in general you should have
approximately two weeks’ time.
Overall, I expect the opportunity to engage in
this kind of supplementary, informal dialogue will help you in your
learning and contribution, as well as make the course more interesting
and meaningful for you. It will also give you the chance to test
out and receive potentially helpful feedback on ideas you might want to
pursue in subsequent class discussions, and in learning and
contribution reflection papers as well as the final examination.
In addition, this will give you a chance to share ideas that you
thought of after class discussion, or that you needed more time to
think out and formulate effectively in your own mind before sharing
these, and Desire2Learn postings should help students who are shy about
speaking forth extensively in class discussion. I know everyone
in class has much of value to offer, including those who do not feel as
readily inclined or as comfortable to voice this in class discussion as
I will grade you twice on your Desire2Learn papers: 12.5% for the first
half of the semester, and 12.5% for the second half of the
semester. Again, I will take into account the mentors’
recommendations in determining these grades, but this will in every
case be my decision.
I am giving students in this class two different
opportunities to earn a substantial amount of extra credit this
The first opportunity requires you to attend one or
more of the following screenings of the fall 2005 UWEC campus film
Osama, September 8-11, 6 &
8:30 pm, Davies Theatre
Vera Drake, September 22-25, 6
& 8:30 pm, Davies Theatre
Maria Full of Grace, October
6-9, 6 & 8:30 pm, Davies Theatre
Mondays in the Sun, October
13-16, 6 & 8:30 pm, Davies Theatre
Hotel Rwanda, November 3-6, 6
& 8:30 pm, Davies Theatre
The Red Violin, November
10-13, 6 & 8:30 pm, Davies Theatre
Bus 174, November 17-20, 6
& 8:30 pm, Davies Theatre
Kitchen Stories, December 1-4,
6 & 8:30 pm, Davies Theatre
After you attend a screening, you should write an approximately
page paper, offering your reflections and comments in making
and responding to the film to share in a serious discussion
film, roughly one-half hour in length, with James, Sean, Eddy,
Juli. You may do this for one, two, three, four, five, six,
seven, or all eight of these films. You will receive 1.5% extra
credit each time you do so, for a potential total of 12% extra
The second extra credit opportunity requires you to
participate in a
class field trip to Minneapolis–tentatively scheduled
for Saturday October 22. During this film trip we will
screening(s) of films of serious critical interest otherwise
unavailable in this area, as well as, perhaps, another film-related
activity. I will pay for the bus; you will only need to pay the
cost of tickets for the film(s) you attend–and for any refreshments you
wish to purchase that day while in Minneapolis. Beside the
opportunity to attend screenings of highly interesting films, we will
seek to have a good time together on this class outing. On
past class field trips my classes and I have taken to the Twin Cities,
students have had a great time. You are welcome to bring friends
from outside of our class to come along with you as you wish. You
may earn 5% extra
credit simply for coming along on the field trip, as
well as an
additional 5% extra credit if you, again, subsequently write
up a short (one page) reflection and comment paper on at least
you attend while participating in this field trip and then take the
time to discuss this with me, or with Juli, with Eddy, with
with James in a
conference of approximately one-half hour’s time.
As an aside, we will likely have some kind of class
party at the end of the semester, and possibly an early semester
get-together as well; I will most likely offer extra credit for
attending and participating in either one or both of these two events.
THE GOALS OF THE
This university is, as many of you well know, a
liberal arts institution; education in the liberal arts (and sciences)
represents the historic and central commitment of what we do together
on this UW campus-not vocational training and pre-professional
development. According to the UWEC administration, the
baccalaureate degree shall work to develop the following for UWEC
1.) an understanding of a liberal education.
2.) an appreciation of the University as a learning community.
3.) an ability to inquire, think, analyze.
4.) an ability to write, read, speak, listen.
5.) an understanding of numerical data.
6.) a historical consciousness.
7.) international and intercultural experience.
8.) an understanding of science and scientific methods.
9.) an appreciation of the arts.
10.) an understanding of values.
11.) an understanding of human behavior and human institutions.
UWEC strives to help
you meet these objectives in
the course of the higher education you pursue here. Please
note that in making these our foremost aims, we at UWEC clearly
distinguish ourselves from technical colleges as well as from all other
UW schools, especially places like Stout and River Falls. This
section of English 190 will help contribute to you meeting goals 1-4,
6, and 9-11.
These goals cannot be met passively by the student:
each requires your striving toward it to be met. Striving means
learning actively, completing assignments in a thorough and timely
fashion, participating in class discussion, and making connections
(above and beyond those emphasized by us in the classroom) between what
we do while meeting in class and what you do when engaged outside of
I encourage you to meet with me in conference during
office hours or at another mutually convenient time to discuss any
issue of interest or concern related to what we are doing in this
course. Learning that takes place in conferences can at times be
equally as important, and in fact occasionally even more important,
than what takes place in class. Please do not hesitate to meet
with me during office hours or to ask for an appointment at any time
you think this might be helpful; I regard making myself available for
conferences with you outside of class to be an indispensable part of my
responsibility as your teacher. Moreover, I always sincerely do
welcome getting to know and work with my students outside as well as
inside of class. I am ready to do whatever I can to help you in
your understanding of issues addressed in discussions, readings, and
screenings, as well as to help you in your writing for and
participation in this course. I want to make sure that I do all
that I can to help you succeed in this course and I want to help you,
as far as I can, to gain as much out of it as possible through your
participation in and work for it. You may also feel free to write
me via e-mail, and to call me-or leave a message for me on the
answering machine-at my office. I enjoy meeting and working with
students outside as well as inside of class; I really do. I would
rather talk with you during my office hours than do anything else, so
please do not worry about "disturbing" me in coming to talk with me; my
office hours are time that I have set aside to meet, talk, and work
with you. PLEASE DO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS OPPORTUNITY!
And, remember, once again, taking the time to meet and talk with me
periodically in conference is a great way to contribute to the class.
Also, James Boland, Sean Fogarty, Eddy Kaiser, and
Juli Pitzer and have signed on as student mentors class because
they want to work with and help you. Please feel free to contact
and meet with them outside of class about any matter of interest or
concern; they too will hold regular office hours and be readily
accessible to assist you. Juli, James, Eddy, and Sean can be of
great help do you; take advantage of the opportunity to work with them.
* Any student who has a disability and is in need of
classroom accommodations, please contact the instructor and the
Services for Students with Disabilities Office early in the semester. *
I strive to be as responsible and as accountable to
my students as possible. I believe it is crucial that students
become aware of the ideas and the values that shape and direct their
education, and I believe students should expect that all of their
teachers will be prepared to explain why they teach as they do.
take the time, as early as you can this semester, to
read through and think carefully about my "Statement of Teaching
Philosophy" that I have posted on my UWEC faculty website:
This statement explains WHY I teach as I do. I think it is
extremely important that you know and understand where your teachers
are coming from in teaching you as they do. You will find me one
who trusts you sufficiently always to be frank and honest about this
Professor Bob Nowlan's Home Page
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Professor Bob Nowlan
Last Updated: September 5, 2005