INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES 154: SOCIAL JUSTICE IN FILM AND MUSIC
                
    Spring 2012, UWEC
    Monday, 3-5:45 pm and Wednesday, 3-4:15 pm, HHH 323
    
    PART ONE: SOCIAL JUSTICE IN FILM

    PROFESSOR BOB NOWLAN

    Office: HHH 425, Office Phone: (715) 836-4369
    Office Hours: MWF 11:55 am to 12:25 pm, M 5:50 pm to 6:20 pm,
    T 8:50 pm to 9:20 pm, W 4:20 to 4:50 pm, as well as By Appointment
    ranowlan@uwec.edu
    http://people.uwec.edu/ranowlan


    COURSE DESCRIPTION


    We will study how a small, select number of films engage with a diverse range of social justice issues.  We will concentrate on how these films enable their audiences to understand and respond to the particular social justice issues they engage–and, in particular, on what kinds of explicit as well as implicit critiques they elaborate, arguments they advance, and actions they urge.  This will not be an ‘introduction to film class’ with any sustained concentration on the aesthetics, history, sociology, economics, philosophy, politics, or ideology of film (or broad kinds of film) in general; we will only deal with techniques and conventions of film making and of film reception insofar as they are directly relevant to making sense of how the specific films we will work with engage the particular issues of social justice they do.  Readings will be minimal, and directly connected with the specific films we are studying as well as the specific issues they engage.  These readings will provide background, context, and perspective: on how and why these specific films have been made, as they have; on the specific social justice issues they address; and how various audiences have responded to these films, in particular vis-a-vis their engagement with these same precise issues of social justice.  The ultimate goal of our work together throughout this portion of the semester will be for students in class to devise ways to interest audiences on campus, and across the greater Eau Claire/Chippewa Valley region, in attending screenings and participating in post-screening discussions of these same films as part of the 2012 Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival.  Students in this class will lead the screening and post-screening discussion of the films with which we will have been previously working during the run of the actual festival itself.  In class, preceding the festival, we will strategize together how to encourage people to come to these sessions, how to introduce these films, and how effectively to lead post-screening discussion of these films.  As we discuss these films, both in class and at the festival, we will explore different conceptions of social justice, as well as different ways of working for social justice, beginning with those represented–and promoted–by these films themselves.

    TEXTS

    All readings will be available via weblinks; Desire2Learn; the Student-Faculty Shared, or ‘W’, drive (deptdir); and/or as photocopied handouts distributed in class.  


    We will be working with the following films, all of which I will supply copies of, in DVD format:

1.    Made in Dagenham, Directed by Nigel Cole, 2010, 108 minutes
2.    Brother Outsider: the life of Bayard Rustin, Directed by Directed by Nancy D. Kates and Bennett Singer, 2003, 84 minutes
3.    Hot Coffee, Directed by Susan Saladoff, 2011, 86 minutes
4.    The Battle of Orgreave, Directed by Mike Figgis, 2001, 63 minutes
5.    The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, Directed by Judith Erlich and Rick Goldsmith, 2009, 94 minutes
6     Route Irish, Directed by Ken Loach, 2010, 104 minutes
7.    Neds, Directed by Peter Mullan, 2010, 119 minutes
8.    Heist: Who Stole the American Dream?, Directed by Frances Causey and Donald Goldmacher, 2011, 83 minutes
9.    There Once Was an Island: Te Henua E Nnoho, Directed by Briar March, 2010, 80 minutes

    SCHEDULE

Week One (1/23, 1/25): Introduction and orientation.  Introduction to and overview of films with which students will be working.  Explanation of relationship between the class and the Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival.  Students sign up to be responsible for particular films as part of the Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival.

Week Two (1/30, 2/1): Screening and discussion of Heist and There Once Was an Island.  Planning how to solicit interest in screening and discussion of these films at the Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival, as well as of how to lead public discussion of these films.

Week Three (2/6, 2/8): Screening and discussion of The Most Dangerous Man in America and The Battle of Orgreave.  Planning how to solicit interest in screening and discussion of these films at the Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival, as well as of how to lead public discussion of these films.

Week Four (2/13, 2/15): Screening and discussion of Brother Outsider and Hot Coffee.  Planning how to solicit interest in screening and discussion of these films at the Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival, as well as of how to lead public discussion of these films.

Week Five (2/20, 2/22): Screening and discussion of Made in Dagenham.  Planning how to solicit interest in screening and discussion of this film at the Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival, as well as of how to lead public discussion of this film.

Week Six (2/27, 2/29):  Screening and discussion of Route Irish.  Planning how to solicit interest in screening and discussion of this film at the Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival, as well as of how to lead public discussion of this film.

Week Seven (3/5, 3/7): Screening and discussion of Neds.  Planning how to solicit interest in screening and discussion of this film at the Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival, as well as of how to lead public discussion of these films.

Week Eight (3/12, 3/14): Review of films and issues, preparation and planning for the Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival.  

Week Nine (3/26, 3/28): Review of films and issues, preparation and planning for the Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival.  

Week Ten (3/30-4/8): Participation in helping run sessions concerned with our nine films [Made in Dagenham, The Battle of Orgeave, There Once Was an Island, Route Irish, Heist: Who Stole the American Dream?, Brother Outsider: the Life of Bayard Rustin, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, Hot Coffee, and Neds] at the 2012 Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival.

    * READINGS WILL BE ANNOUNCED IN CLASS OR VIA EMAIL*

    ** REFLECTION PAPER ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ANNOUNCED AND EXPLAINED IN CLASS **

    *** THIS SCHEDULE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE ***


    ORGANIZATION AND CONDUCT OF CLASS SESSIONS

    We will usually screen films on Monday and discuss these and issues they raise on Wednesday.  This class will run as a seminar, focused overwhelmingly on discussion, requiring active and extensive involvement from all concerned.  I will, as useful, occasionally make brief, informal presentations, and I will also work to direct our discussions.  These may proceed according to a variety of formats.  In discussion, we will also refer to readings related to the films and issues we are discussing, as well as to diverse ‘extras’ from the DVD versions of our films, from other films, from official film websites, from related internet locations and in related formats (such as musical recordings).  


    UWEC MISSION AND GOALS OF THE BACCALAUREATE

    The following is the official mission statement of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, a mission which includes us all, and which each of us helps realize, bringing to bear our own distinct talents, abilities, knowledges, skills, backgrounds, and experiences:


    We foster in one another creativity, critical insight, empathy, and intellectual courage, the hallmarks of a transformative liberal education and the foundation for active citizenship and lifelong inquiry.


This is a mission to aspire to meet, and each of you has a vitally important role to play in helping us do so.


    The following, in addition, are the five most important, official liberal education learning goals all UWEC undergraduate courses are designed to help you meet, and this class aims to help you with all five:

    1.) Knowledge of Human Culture and the Natural World
    
    2.) Creative and Critical Thinking
    
    3.) Effective Communication
    
    4.) Individual and Social Responsibility
    
    5.) Respect for Diversity Among People

These goals require your striving to meet them.  Striving means learning actively and deliberately, completing assignments in a thorough and timely fashion, participating in class discussion, and making connections between what we do while meeting in class and what you do when engaged outside of the classroom.

GENERAL EXPECTATIONS OF STUDENTS

    I expect students in this course to strive to become sincerely interested in learning about the subject matter of this course, and to be consistently intellectually serious as well as academically diligent in their pursuit of this learning.  I expect students to strive to bring actively and extensively to bear insights you gain through your engagement with the films and issues addressed as part of this course, and I expect you to strive at the same time to relate these to subjects of genuine interest and concern in your own lives, past and present.  And I expect you to let me know right away when and if you have any questions or problems about any aspect of how you are doing in and with the course, so that I can do whatever I possibly can to help answer these questions and solve these problems.  And finally, you need to be ready to engage seriously, thoughtfully, and respectfully–at all times–with positions that you don’t necessarily agree with, and even with ones that you may find troubling.  After all, great works of art–including many great works of cinema–are often created with the deliberate aim of disturbing, even shocking many people who will encounter these.  Often the intent is to provoke strong response, as well as thought–and action–that goes beyond what has become familiar, conventional, commonsensical, and, especially, merely “safe.”  You are capable of dealing with these kinds of challenges calmly and confidently–and I will expect you to do so.


SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS FOR THE COURSE GRADE

General Standards for Evaluation of Student Work

    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 we screen, the texts we read, by me, by fellow classmates, and by fellow participants in Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival sessions. 

Attendance

    This will be extremely important at all scheduled classes, and is therefore required for all class meetings except for absolute emergencies and for those who have arranged officially authorized absences.  Students are also required, of course, to attend sessions during the run of the Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival, when we will be screening and discussing films for which students will themselves be responsible.

Participation in Class

    Students will be expected to be consistently engaged in asking questions, in offering comments, and in general and extended discussion with peers and the instructor regarding the films we will focus on and the specific issues they raise.  We will work together to come to grips with how these films deal with the specific social justice issues they do, and we will work together as well to strategize how to interest various prospective public audiences in these films and the issues they address.  As a way of enhancing and extending the benefits of this participation in class, students will write two interpretation and reflection papers on the films and the issues they raise, as well as on other issues that have come up in class discussion or which they find usefully related.  Key here will be arguing compellingly for your interpretations and reflections so that you are capable of impacting and influencing a reader who does not already agree with your takes on these films and these issues.  These interpretation and reflection papers will contribute toward students’ grade for participation in class.  Interpretation and reflection paper assignments and due dates, as well as specific instructions, and format recommendations, will be announced and explained in class.  Participation in class (including work on these two interpretation and reflection papers) will be worth 40% of the overall grade for part one of IDIS 154.

Participation in working with films as part of the Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival

    In small groups, students will work to solicit interest, on campus and in the greater Eau Claire/Chippewa Valley region, about a series of several of the films we will be screening and discussing in class–as well as about the specific issues these films address–encouraging people to attend the screenings of these films and participate in discussions of them immediately thereafter at the 2011 Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival.  Each student group will be responsible for running several sessions as part of the Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival, including post-screening discussion of the films for which they are responsible.  Students will write a culminating short paper reflecting on what they have learned from this experience as well as on how it went.  (Additional details concerning this paper assignment will be announced and explained in class.)  Although students will be working in small groups, students will earn individual grades and will have a chance to assess the quality of their own as well as others’ contribution to the dual or group effort in each case.  Participation in working with films as part of the Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival (including work on the final reflection paper later) will be worth 60% of the overall grade for part one of IDIS 154.

CONFERENCES/EXTRA HELP

    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 at times 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; making myself available for conferences with you outside of class is 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, screenings, and readings, as well as to help you in your work 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.  Keep in  mind–“my office hours” are for you, and 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.   These office hours are time that I have set aside to meet, talk, and work with you.     
    

    * Any student who has a disability and is in need of classroom accommodations, please contact both the instructor and the Services for Students with Disabilities Office, Old Library 2136; for more information on the services the latter office provides you, check out their webpage: http://www.uwec.edu/ssd/index.htm *


CONCLUSION

    In the interest of accountability–me to you–I am here providing you a weblink to: 1) my autobiographical profile: http://people.uwec.edu/ranowlan/PROFILE_.htm. You are also welcome to look me up 2.) on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1755562371 [If you are interested in becoming facebook friends, feel free to contact me about that]. I encourage you to check these sites out; it is useful for you to know who your teacher is, what he’s about, and where he’s coming from–and I like to be open, honest, and forthright with you about all of that. I look forward to a great semester working together with you!