University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


    Section 002: W, 7 to 10:30 p.m, Screenings,
    and R, 2 to 4:30 p.m., Discussions, HHH 321

    Four Credits

    Spring 2004, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


    Office: HHH 425, (715) 836-4369

    Office Hours: MW 4:20-5:15 p.m., W 10:40-11:30 p.m., R 4:40-5:30 p.m.,
    MWF 12 noon to 1 p.m., and By Appointment.

    Contact: and


    English 190: 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 context.  

    Culture includes everything that we, as human beings, have created, built, learned, and conquered 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.)

    This course is designed neither to teach you how to make your own films, nor to provide you with an opportunity simply to enjoy watching films.  We will examine the ways that films provide pleasure for their audiences.  Yet our goal will not be simply to experience these pleasures ourselves, describe what they feel like, and then offer merely impressionistic and purely opinionated reactions on top of these descriptions that recount how far we can or cannot personally identify with and relate to what the films depict and what they attempt to make us feel.  Instead, our objective will be to seek to understand how and why films produce these pleasures in the ways that they do-and also to understand what else always happens, simultaneous with the provision of pleasure, as a result of the kinds of pleasures and the ways of providing pleasures films characteristically offer.

    We will in fact give considerable attention to the many other effects-other than providing pleasure-that films can and do achieve, whether deliberately so or not. In particular, we will inquire into films as providing us valuable knowledge about the real historical societies and associated specific cultures out of which these films emerge and into which they exert their impact-even where offering this kind of insight does not constitute a conscious aim of the film makers themselves, and even when we must critique the film's representations in order to produce this knowledge.

    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 change.

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.

     Rarely does Hollywood inspire us to believe we can and should act as critical citizens.  Critical citizens work both within their local communities and beyond the confines of local, regional, and even national boundaries by collaborating with others who share the same commitments.  These commitments involve combating injustice, inequity, discrimination, prejudice, and the other socially systemic and institutionally entrenched forms of violent abuse which so many of our fellow human beings suffer every day of their lives-as well as striving to foster ecologically sustainable relations with the rest of the natural world that we as a species have so miserably failed to "steward."

    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.  We will also 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.

     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 a brief 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.)  “mise-en-scène,” b.)  “cinematography,” 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 film form and representation, turn from there to discuss the structure and history of Hollywood filmmaking, and proceed in turn to examine representations of issues of race and ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality in (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 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 two 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: Blackwell, 2004.

     In addition, I will supply you copies of all films screened for study in this class. We will screen these in DVD and VHS formats with large-screen projection and high-fidelity stereo sound reproduction.  Most of the films I screen in the courses I teach at UWEC are my own personal copies (or copies I rent, without reimbursement, at prices that can range well over $100 a shot), as this university at present maintains no regular source of funding to pay for films used in film classes. Therefore, if you miss a class where we watch a film, you will need either a.) to rent a copy from a local video store or library collection, or b.) arrange with me to schedule a make-up screening session on campus.  In short, I prefer not to loan out copies of titles screened in class for you to take home.


Week 1

W 1/28: Screening, The Truman Show and Out: the Making of a Revolutionary.

R 1/29: Introduction and Orientation.  Discussion, The Truman Show and Out: the Making of a Revolutionary.

Week 2

W 2/4: Screening, Mulholland Drive and Thou Shalt Not Kill (A Short Film About Killing).

R 2/5: Discussion, Critical Media Literacy/Elements of Meaning, Mulholland Drive, and Thou Shalt Not Kill (A Short Film About Killing).

    Read for Class: The Critical Eye (CE), Chapters 1-2, 2-32.

Week 3

W 2/11: Screening, Seconds and Suture.

R 2/12: Discussion, Cinematography, Seconds, and Suture.

    Read for Class: CE, Chapter 3, 33-60.

Week 4

W 2/18: Screening, Clerks and Disco Pigs.

R 2/19: Discussion, Mise-en-Scène, Clerks, and Disco Pigs.

    Read for Class: CE, Chapter 4, 61-90.

Week 5

W 2/25: Screening, The Battle of Algiers and Bloody Sunday.

R 2/26: Discussion, Editing, The Battle of Algiers, and Bloody Sunday.

    Read for Class: CE, Chapter 5, 91-108.

    * First Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper Assigned. *

Week 6

W 3/3 and R 3/4: First Exam.

Week 7

W 3/10: Screening, The Harder They Come and Teenage Kicks: The Undertones.

R 3/11: Discussion, Sound, The Harder They Come and Teenage Kicks: The Undertones.

    Read for Class: CE, Chapter 4, 109-126.

    * First Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper Due. *

Week 8

W 3/17: Screening, Casablanca and Play It Again Sam.

R 3/18: Discussion, Introduction to the Study of Film Form and Representation, Casablanca, and Play It Again Sam.

    Read for Class: America on Film (AF), Chapter 1, 1-22.

Spring Break

Week 9

W 3/31: Screening, The Bad and the Beautiful and The Player.

R 4/1:    Discussion, The Structure and History of Hollywood Filmmaking, The Bad and the Beautiful, and The Player.

    Read for Class: AF, Chapter 2, 23-46, and CE, Chapter 8,151-174.

    * Second Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper Assigned. *

Week 10

W 4/7: Screening, Pleasantville, Blood in the Face, and Not in Our Town I and II.

R 4/8: Discussion, The Concept of Whiteness and American Film,  Pleasantville, Blood in the Face, and Not in Our Town I and II.

    Read for Class: AF, Introduction to Part Two and Chapter 3, 49-74.

Week 11

W 4/14: Screening, Ethnic Notions and Bamboozled.

R 4/15: Discussion, African Americans and American Film, Ethnic Notions, and Bamboozled.

    Read for Class: AF, Chapter 4, 75-95.

    * Second Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper Due. *
Week 12

W 4/21: Screening, Bulworth and Life and Debt.

R 4/22: Discussion, Classical Hollywood Cinema and Class/Cinematic Class Struggle After the Depression, Bulworth, and Life and Debt.

    Read for Class: AF, Introduction to Part Three and Chapters 8-9, 157-199.

Week 13

W 4/28: Screening, Gilda and Dead Reckoning.

R 4/29: Discussion, Exploring the Visual Parameters of Women in Film/Masculinity in Classical Hollywood Filmmaking,  Gilda, and Dead Reckoning.

        Read for Class: AF, Introduction to Part Four, 203-206, and Chapters 11-12, 229-270.

Week 14

W 5/3: Screening, Far from Heaven and Fight Club.

R 5/4: Discussion, Women in Classical Hollywood Filmmaking/Gender in American Film Since the 1960s,  Far from Heaven, and Fight Club.

    Read for Class: AF, Chapters 10 and 13, 207-228 and 271-290.

    * Third Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper Assigned. *

Week 15

W 5/10: Screening, Victim and Urbania.

R 5/11: Discussion, Heterosexuality, Homosexuality, and Classical Hollywood/Sexualities on Film Since the Sexual Revolution, Victim, and Urbania.

    Read for Class: AF, Introduction to Part Five and Chapters 14-15, 293-338.

Week 16

W 5/17: Second Exam.  

R 5/18: Third Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper Due.



    On Wednesday evenings we will screen films.  We will take a brief break of 5 to 10 minutes between each screening.  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 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 in the end.

    On Thursday afternoons 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 Wednesday night.  Frequently, I will show clips from the films screened the previous night as well as DVD extras to initiate and stimulate discussion. I will also, from time to time, 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 John Dallmann and Phil Gregory, and, as useful, I will combine discussion with some extended comments and short, informal presentations of my own.  However, I will always ask you to help out as I introduce and explain positions, concepts, methods, and practices.  I plan to combine largely brief and informal presentations with 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 Thursday afternoon working in small groups; students will also from time to time need to prepare short written reflections either prior to or during our Thursday meetings to share with the rest of the class.


    Although I expect that students enrolled in this course do 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 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 I can do everything I possibly can to help answer these questions and solve these problems.


    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 you.

    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.



    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 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 take note of student attendance and therefore I expect students to adhere to the following attendance policy for this course:

1.) Students should not exceed a maximum of three unexcused absences.

2.) Students should provide me with written confirmation of a serious, individual or family emergency for any further absences beyond 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 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 responsible for finding out and making up whatever you miss if and when you do miss class.

    Learning and Contribution/Learning and Contribution Reflection Papers

        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

    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 participation.

    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.

        Alternative 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.

        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 three 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 the class.

    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 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; 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.  

    I recommend an approximate target range of between 1250 and 1750 words (roughly 5-7 double-space pages).   

    Learning and contribution grades (including learning and contribution reflection papers) will be worth the following percentages of the overall course grade: #1, 10%, #2, 15%, and #3, 20%.


    The first exam will take place, in class, in two parts, on Wednesday evening March 3 and on Thursday afternoon March 4.  The first exam will address key concepts covered, as well as films screened, through the first five weeks of the semester.   Part one of this exam will run for two hours Wednesday evening the 3rd, and will consist of a series of short response essays on questions related to the re-screening of a selection of clips from films screened in the preceding five weeks of the semester.  Part two will begin with the screening of a film over the course of the last 85 minutes of class on Wednesday evening March 3 (this will be a film not previously screened this semester in class). The next day, Thursday afternoon March 4, students will write an extended essay in response to an assignment distributed, and the screening of a refresher clip from the preceding night's screening, at the beginning of this (Thursday) class session. You may use any textbooks, photocopied handouts, notes, guides, outlines, et. al. you want as you write your short essays on Tuesday evening and your long essay on Wednesday afternoon.  Parts one and two of the first exam will each be worth 10% of the overall course grade, for a total of 20% of the overall course grade.

    The second exam will take place, in class, on Wednesday evening May 19This exam will once against consist of two parts.  As with the first exam, the first part of the second exam will run for two hours, and consist of a series of short response essays on questions related to the re-screening of a selection of clips from films screened in the preceding eight weeks of the semester.  Part two of exam two will consist of the screening of two short films followed by students writing an essay in response to a single set of questions about these two short films.  Once again, the second exam will be an "open-book" examination.  Parts one and two of the second exam will again each be worth 10% of the overall course grade, for a total of 20% of the overall course grade.

    Desire2Learn Postings

    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 student mentors John Dallmann and Phil Gregory.  I will explain how to access this site, and make sure you can do so, very early in the semester.

    Here's how this assignment will work. After each Thursday discussion class meeting you will have the opportunity to post a short, informal reflection, comment, and/or critique on issues directly related to the films and readings discussed in class that Thursday.  Then, once your fellow students have posted their thoughts, you will have the opportunity to write a second short, informal paper responding to what one or more of 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 this assignment seriously.

    I will ask John and Phil 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 John and Phil, largely free from having to worry about directly addressing me with anything that you here write.

    You need not post on Desire2Learn every week; I expect you to write a minimum of  three initial posts and six response posts during the first half of the semester (through spring break).  I will then expect you to write a minimum of three additional posts and six additional responses during the second half of the semester (after spring break).

    You will have up to ten days after each Thursday discussion class to post your initial comments, reflections, and/or critiques and then up to fourteen additional days to post your responses (except at the very end of the semester where we won't have quite this much time left).

    I recommend an average of approximately 500 words for each post (i.e., if you are concerned about how much or how little you ‘should write’, estimate posting the equivalent of roughly two double-space typed pages each time). This is not hard and fast at all; it's just to give you something to use as a guideline in drafting your reflections, comments, and critiques.  

    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 later to pursue in class discussions, and in learning and contribution reflection papers.  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 some others.

    I will grade you twice on your Desire2Learn papers: 7.5% for the first half of the semester, and 7.5% for the second half of the semester.  Again, I will take into account John’s and Phil’s recommendations in determining these grades, but this will in every case be my decision, and mine alone; John and Phil cannot, according to law, be officially responsible for grading you in any aspect of your performance as part of this course.


    This university is, as many of you 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. The university administration and faculty support this commitment so strongly that they have asked that all syllabi elaborate the official goals of the baccalaureate, as well as identify which ones the course in question will help you achieve. 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, River Falls, and Stevens Point.  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 the classroom.


    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, John Dallmann and Phil Gregory have signed on as student mentors with this 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.  John and Phil 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.


    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 which 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 with you.

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Last Updated: January 19, 2004