English 181: Introduction to Film, Video,
Section 003: M
3-6:30 pm (Screenings) and
W 3-5:30 pm
(Discussions), HHH 323
Spring 2006, UWEC
Professor Bob Nowlan
425, Office Phone Number: (715) 836-4369
Office Hours: MWF
12-1 p.m., M 6:40-7:30 pm, T 8:50-9:30 p.m.,
W 5:40-6:30 pm, and
E-mail: Professor Bob Nowlan
Senior Student Mentor (email@example.com)
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 cultural
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
1.) moving-image culture (i.e., culture produced, distributed,
exchanged, and consumed in the form of constellations of
moving-images), 2.) 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). (For
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;
2.) artistic 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;
3.) social 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
ends. (“Cinema” 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 times to
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 then proceed to
examine representations of issues of race and ethnicity, class, gender,
and sexuality in (especially American) film.
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 Introduction to
Film, Video, and Moving-Image Culture 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 three 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: Kendall/Hunt, 2002.
2.) Benshoff, Harry and Sean Griffin. America on Film: Representing Race, Class,
Gender, and Sexuality at the Movies. Malden, MA:
3.) Corrigan, Timothy. A Short Guide to Writing About Film.
Fifth Edition. Pearson/Longman, 2004.
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. At each screening session I will give you a study
packet to use in preparing for our Wednesday discussion as well as to
help guide you in making sense of readings, screenings, and connections
between the two. I will also be responsible for supplying
copies of all films we will screen in class this semester.
Critical Eye; SG=A Sort
Guide to Writing About Film; AF=America
M 1/23: Introduction and Orientation, Part One; Screening, Mulholland Drive.
W 1/25: Introduction and Orientation, Part Two; Discussion:
Introduction to Critical Media Literacy and Mulholland Drive.
Class on W 1/25 at the Latest: CE,
“Chapter 1: Media Literacy,” 1-11.
M 1/30: Screening, The Return
and The Devil’s Backbone.
W 2/1: Discussion, Elements of Meaning, The Devil’s Backbone, and The Return.
Class on W 2/1 at the Latest: CE,
“Chapter 2, “Elements of Meaning,” 13-32, and SG, “Chapter 1: Writing About
Movies,” “Chapter Two: Beginning to Think, Preparing to Watch, and
Starting to Write,” and Selections From “Chapter 3–Film Terms and
Topics for Film Analysis and Writing” (“Themes” and “Film and the Other
M 2/6: Screening, The Celebration and
W 2/8: Discussion, Cinematography, The
Celebration, and Happy
Class on W 2/8 at the Latest: CE,
“Chapter 3: The Camera Eye,” 33-60, and SG, From “Chapter 3–Film Terms
and Topics for Film Analysis and Writing,” 56-62 (“The Shot”).
M 2/13: Screening, Dogville.
W 2/15: Discussion, Mise-en-Scène and Dogville.
Class on W 2/15 at the 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
M 2/20: Screening, Bloody Sunday,
Elephant, and Night and Fog.
W 2/22: Discussion, Editing, Bloody
Sunday, Elephant, and Night and Fog.
Class on W 2/22 at the Latest: CE,
“Editing,” 91-108, and SG,
From “Chapter 3–Film Terms and Topics for Film Analysis and
Writing,”46-49 (“Realism”) and 62-69 (“The Edited Image”).
M 2/27: Screening, Apocalypse Now
W 3/1: Discussion, Sound and Apocalypse
Class on W 3/1 at the Latest: CE,
“Chapter 6: Sound,” 109-126, and SG,
From “Chapter 3–Film Terms and Topics for Film Analysis and
Writing,” 70-78 (“Sound” and “Sample Essay”).
Contribution Reflection Paper #1 Assigned
M 3/6: Mid-Term Examination, Part One.
W 3/8: Mid-Term Examination, Part Two.
M 3/13: Screening, High Noon
and Lone Star.
Contribution Reflection Paper #1 Due
W 3/15: Discussion, Representation and Ideology, High Noon, and Lone Star.
Class on W 3/15 at the Latest: AF,
“Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study of Film Form and Representation,”
M 3/27: Screening, Sunset Boulevard
and The Player.
W 3/29: Discussion, Hollywood–Institution and Industry, Sunset Boulevard, and The Player.
Class on W 3/29 at the Latest: AF,
“Chapter 2: The Structure and History of Hollywood Filmmaking,” 23-46,
and CE, “Chapter 8: The
American Industry,” 151-174.
M 4/3: Screening, The Believer
and The Letter.
W 4/5: Discussion, Race and Ethnicity, The Believer, and The Letter.
Class on W 4/5 at the Latest: AF,
“Introduction to Part II: What is Race?” and “The Concept of Whiteness
and American Film,” 49-74.
M 4/10: Screening, The Take
and Bread and Roses.
W 4/12: Discussion, Class, The Take,
and Bread and Roses.
Class on W 4/12 at the Latest: AF,
“Introduction to Part III: What is Class?,” “Classical Hollywood Cinema
and Class,” and “Cinematic Class Struggle After the Depression,”
W 4/19: Screening, Far from Heaven.
M 4/24: Screening, Antonia’s Line and
All About My Mother.
W 4/26: Discussion, Far from Heaven,
Antonia’s Line, and All About My Mother.
Class on W 4/26 at the 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”).
M 5/1: Screening, Kinsey and Priest.
W 5/3: Discussion, Sexuality Part One, Kinsey, and Priest.
Class on W 5/3 at the 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).
Contribution Reflection Paper #2 Assigned
M 5/8: Screening, Y Tu Mama Tambien,
I Exist, and Yossi and Jagger.
W 5/10: Discussion, Sexuality Part Two, Y Tu Mama Tambien, I Exist, and Yossi and Jagger.
Examination: Part One, M May 15, 5-6:50 pm; Part Two, T May 16, 5-6:50
pm. Room(s) To Be Announced. *
** Learning and
Contribution Reflection Paper #2 Due: W May 17, 12 noon, in my
English Department Mailbox, HHH 405. **
*** THIS SCHEDULE IS
SUBJECT TO CHANGE ***
ORGANIZATION AND CONDUCT OF CLASS
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 a recently newly refurbished classroom
and we’d like to try to keep it looking good for as long as we
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.
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. Maria, your senior student mentor, 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
Maria. 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.
GENERAL 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 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 or Maria 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 these problems.
ON INTELLECTUAL CHALLENGES, ACADEMIC
FREEDOM, AND CURRICULAR
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.
SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS FOR THE COURSE
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 Maria, and by each other.
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 two
2.) Students should provide me with written confirmation of
a serious, individual or family emergency for any
further–excused–absences beyond the maximum of two unexcused absences.
3.) Students who
miss more than six classes total, for whatever reason, should expect
that they are unlikely to pass the course, and therefore should
withdraw from the course and enroll again in a subsequent semester.
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.
5.) Students are expected to arrive at class on time and to stay
through the end of class. Coming late or leaving
early, unless for emergency reasons, counts as absent. I
will also note well 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 day.
6.) Students need
to be awake, alert, and attentive while in class, including
throughout screening sessions; 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., text-messaging).
PLEASE NOTE WELL:
CELL PHONES SHOULD BE OFF AND PUT AWAY DURING CLASS, INCLUDING DURING
SCREENING SESSIONS. STUDENTS WHO SPEND TIME PLAYING WITH THESE
WHILE THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BEING PAYING CLOSE, CAREFUL, CRITICAL
ATTENTION TO FILMS–INCLUDING BY TAKING NOTES AS YOU WATCH AND
LISTEN–WILL SUFFER A GRADE PENALTY.
7.) Students are responsible for finding out and making up whatever you
miss if and when you do miss class.
Learning and Contribution
What This is and Why it is Important
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 talking, not
just talk to show what you have learned. Don't hesitate to speak
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 a
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.
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 on homework assignments, quizzes, exams, and learning
and contribution reflection papers (see below as well) can 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 mentor Maria Boland
outside of class.
Learning and Contribution Reflection
Papers/Learning and Contribution Reflection Grades
Learning and contribution will constitute a
significant proportion of your overall course grade. As
part of this grade, you will write two short learning and contribution
reflection papers. For these papers I will ask you to
assess how, along with how well, you have been learning and
contributing in the class. As I see it, these short 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 critical self-reflexivity, the hallmark of a liberal arts
education. As 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. Learning and
contribution grades (including learning and contribution reflection
papers) will be worth the following percentages of the overall course
grade: #1, 10%, and #2, 20%.
Homework Assignments and Quizzes
Starting the second week of the semester I will give you one homework question (or
series of short questions) at each Monday screening session for
you to write out your response to prior to our subsequent Wednesday
discussion class. This question (or series of short questions)
will relate primarily to the assigned readings for that week, but also
may ask you to refer to the film(s) you will watch, and listen to, in
class that Monday. Homework will always be
collected at the beginning of class on Wednesday–and no later.
For each homework assignment you should type out
your response, double-space, you should make sure to put your
name on what you write, you should number your pages and staple
separate pieces of paper together, and you should aim to cover an
average of approximately one to two pages (or 250 to 500 words).
Key here, in evaluating your work on these homework assignments, will
be how accurately, carefully, thoroughly, and thoughtfully you engage
with the question(s) asked of you, as well as the quality of the
insights you offer and the effort you demonstrate both in preparing
well for discussion and in using the writing out of your response to
this homework assignment as itself an occasion for significant
learning. I will not be a stickler for minute points of writing
style, but you should nevertheless try to express yourself, and
communicate to me, clearly and precisely.
Again starting in the second week of the semester, I
will, at the end of our Wednesday discussion classes, ask you to write
out your thoughts in response to a short quiz question (or series of
short quiz questions). These quiz questions will focus primarily
on analysis of the film(s) screened the preceding Monday in relation to
the concepts introduced by the assigned readings for the week, and by
way of our preceding discussion in that very same Wednesday’s
class. I will evaluate your work on these quizzes according to
the same criteria I indicated in the preceding paragraph that I will
emphasize in evaluating your homework.
and quizzes will be worth a combined total of 20% of the overall course
grade: 7.5% for the first part of the semester (through the
mid-term examination) and 12.5% for the
second part of the semester (after the mid-term examination
through the last week class meets). I will give you an overall grade for
homework and quizzes at the mid-term and another at the end of the
semester. Yet I will also return both of these to you
every subsequent week after they are due with a brief indication in
each case of how well you are doing on these assignments.
The mid-term examination will take place as
follows. On Monday March 6
you will write short critical analyses of a series of four clips from
films screened prior to this point in the semester which I will
re-screen for you at this time, prior to you writing each of these
short critical analyses. In each case you will respond to
specific questions about the clip, the film from which it is excerpted,
and the concepts I have selected it to illustrate. This will
proceed for approximately two hours and constitute part one of the mid-term examination; it will be worth 10% of the overall
After a break I will then screen a film for you that
we have not previously watched, and listened to, together–for the
remainder of the period. On
Wednesday March 8, I will screen a key clip, or several clips,
from this same film at the beginning of class. After this,
you will have the remainder of the period to write a critical analysis
of this film in relation to the concepts we have been studying and
working with up to this point in the semester. Again, I will give
you a specific set of questions to address in doing this work.
This essay will constitute part two
of the mid-term examination; it will
also be worth (an additional) 10% of the overall course grade.
is an “open book” examination, meaning you may refer to your
textbooks, photocopied handouts I will have prepared for you, notes,
and any other written materials you think might prove useful in
responding to any and/or all of the questions (both parts of) this
examination poses of you.
This examination will again take place in two
parts. Part one of
this exam (on
Monday May 15, from 5-6:50 pm) will involve you writing out
short critical analyses of three clips from films screened during the
second half of the semester. Again, I will screen each of
these clips for you before asking you to respond to specific questions
about the clip, the film from which it is excerpted, and the concepts I
have selected it to illustrate. Part one of the final
examination will be worth 7.5% of the overall course grade.
Part two (on Tuesday May 16, from
5-6:50 pm) will consist of a multi-part essay assignment related
to films we have screened and issues we have read and discussed in the
second half of the semester. Part two of the final
examination will be worth (an additional)12.5% of the overall course
is, once again, an “open book” examination, meaning you may
refer, as with the mid-term exam, to your textbooks, photocopied
handouts I will have prepared for you, notes, and any other written
materials you think might prove useful in responding to any and/or all
of the questions (both parts of) this examination poses of you.
I am creating a Desire2Learn electronic classroom
website for this class. Beyond me posting material here for you
to retrieve, I will also ask 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 mentor Maria Boland. Your postings here may be
informal, yet you should nevertheless try to write as clearly and
precisely as possible. I will also expect your postings to
demonstrate you are taking each assignment seriously. I will ask
Maria to offer evaluations of how you have done with this work, and
take into account her recommendations in grading your Desire2Learn
postings. This will be a space where you can engage in discussion
primarily with your peers and with Maria.
You need not post in response to every post topic,
as quality of engagement will be ultimately more important that
quantity. Yet a sufficient quantity of posts is necessary to
insure quality. Estimate
you should aim to make approximately six serious, substantial,
thoughtful posts each half of the semester.
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, papers, and exams.
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 posts: 5% for the
first half of the semester, and 5% for the second half of the semester.
Again, I will take into account Maria’s 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 semester.
The first opportunity requires you to attend one or
more of the following International
Film Society screenings (but not UAC screenings) as part of the
spring 2006 UWEC campus film series:
1. Notre Musique, R-Sn
January 26-29, 6 and 8:30 pm, Davies Theatre.
2. I am Cuba, R-Sn
February 16-19, 6 and 8:30 pm, Davies Theatre
3. Merci Docteur Rey,
R-Sn February 23-26, 6 and 8:30 pm, Davies Theatre
4. Nobody Knows, R-Sn
April 6-9, 6 and 8:30 pm, Davies Theatre
5. The Battle of Algiers,
R-Sn May 4-7, 6 and 8:30 pm, Davies Theatre
After you attend a screening, you should write an
approximately two page, double-space, typed paper, offering your
reflections and comments in making sense of and responding to the
film. You will give this to Maria and she will evaluate how much
extra credit you should earn for doing this work. Alternately,
you can arrange to talk with Maria in a conference of at least one
half-hour where you thoughtfully interpret and evaluate the same film
in discussion with her. Again, she will then determine how much
extra credit you will earn. You may do this for one, two, three,
four, or all five of these films. You will receive up to
2.5% extra credit each time you do so, for a potential total of 12.5%
The second extra credit opportunity requires you to
participate in helping organize and conduct the Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival,
tentatively scheduled to run from Friday April 28 through Sunday May
7. You may
earn anywhere from 2.5% to 12.5% extra credit for helping out with this
Festival, depending upon the quantity and quality of your
contribution. Please let me know if you are
interested in this–second–extra credit opportunity and I will find a
way to get you involved in helping out as soon as possible.
THE GOALS OF THE BACCALAUREATE
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 students:
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, Maria Boland has signed on as student mentor
for this class because she wants to work with and help you.
Please feel free to contact and meet with her outside of class about
any matter of interest or concern; she too will hold regular office
hours and be readily accessible to assist you. Maria can be of
great help do you; take advantage of the opportunity to work with her.
* 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.
Please, therefore, 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