M 3-6:30 pm (Screenings) and W 3-5:30 pm (Discussions), HHH 323
    Four Credits, Fall 2012, UWEC

    Office: HHH 425, Office Phone: (715) 836-4369
    Office Hours: MW 11:55 am to 12:25 pm, M 6:35 pm to 7:05 pm,
    W 5:35 to 6:05 pm, F 10:55 to 11:25 am, as well as By Appointment



    English 381: Topics in Film, Video, and Moving-Image Culture is an upper-level general education course in the humanities that focuses on an intensive as well as extensive exploration of a particular topic in cinema studies as cultural studies, with the topic varying from offering to offering.  We, in the English Department, offer this class once a year, and my English Department colleague Professor Stacy Thompson and I teach all offerings of English 381.  We each choose topics that represent areas of particular interest and expertise for us that we believe will likewise interest and excite students.  In the past I have taught sections of this course, and of its predecessor, English 380: Studies in Film, that focused on Critical Theories of Film, Film Noir (twice), LGBTQ Film (twice), Irish Cinema, British Cinema (twice), German Cinema, and Scottish Cinema (once previously, in the Fall 2010 semester).  Professor Thompson has in the past taught sections of English 381 focused on Auteur Cinema: Hitchcock, The French New Wave, and Dogme 95, American Independent Cinema, Godard, and Film Noir.  English 381 can fulfill multiple English major and minor requirements, GE IV-D humanities requirements, upper level GE requirements, and topical minor in film requirements.

    This Fall 2012 offering of English 381: Topics in Film, Video, and Moving-Image Culture focused on Scottish Cinema offers you an introduction to major contributions in the history of cinematic representations of Scotland and of ‘Scottishness’, made within as well as outside Scotland and by both Scots and non-Scots. We will study Scottish cinema in relation to Scottish history and, especially, Scottish culture. We will examine a broad range of film genres and film styles with a particular focus, over the course of the entire second half of the semester, on recent and contemporary Scottish films.  And we will tackle the following ‘big issues’, among others: the power of myth and the contribution of cinema to defining the myths people live by; the meaning of national identity; relations between nationality and other forms of identity; cinema as entertainment, as art, as ideology, and as ideology critique; and the nature of realism, naturalism, the romantic, and the fantastical in cinema.  

    I am extremely excited about this class.  Scotland, and Scottish Studies, represent two of my greatest passions over the past decade.  I maintain an abundant, enthusiastic interest in Scottish cinema, music, literature, history, and culture.  I have traveled extensively across Scotland on fifteen separate occasions over the course of the past ten years, including twice this past summer.  Besides previously teaching English 381, with a focus on Scottish Cinema, I have also taught English 359, British Literature Since 1790, with a focus on Scottish Crime Fiction, and I make Scottish indie rock, pop, folk, folk rock, and folktronica one of my feature areas of emphasis on my weekly radio show, Insurgence (10 pm to midnight Thursdays on WHYS, 96.3 FM, Eau Claire).

    I am co-editor of the forthcoming book Directory of World Cinema: Scotland (currently scheduled for publication in the Fall of 2014), part of Intellect Publishing Company’s Directory of World Cinema series.  This book is conceived as an introduction to Scottish cinema and Scottish cinema studies for undergraduate level students, scholars seeking a useful reference source for their own work in related fields, and for interested general readers.  Not only am I co-editing this book, but also I am writing approximately fifteen contributions to it as well.  Our book will contain approximately twenty essays (on filmmakers, themes, and genres) as well as approximately ninety reviews of individual films.  

    My co-editor, Zach Finch, graduated with a bachelor’s degree from UWEC with a major in political science and a minor in film studies, and then from North Carolina State University with a master’s degree in English with a concentration in film studies.  At present, Zach is pursuing a PhD in English, concentrating in critical studies in cinema and related media at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  Another contributor to Directory of World Cinema: Scotland is Jason Burke, a student in my Fall 2010: Scottish Cinema class, who has since transferred to UW-Madison.  Jason is interested in eventually pursuing a PhD in English and becoming an English professor.  I mention Zach and Jason here simply to highlight the possibilities that can become realities for dedicated and accomplished UWEC undergraduate students: not only to pursue advanced degrees in English and in film studies, and eventually to pursue opportunities to become professors of English and cinema studies yourselves, but also to collaborate with UWEC faculty members, like myself, on substantial scholarly projects, including major book-length contributions in cinema studies.  If you develop a strong interest in Scottish cinema (and/or other areas of Scottish culture) as we proceed, and you do well with it, opportunities for future collaboration are likely to be available.  For example, Zach and I have already been in communication with our publisher about potentially editing and writing Directory of World Cinema: Scotland 2, after Directory of World Cinema: Scotland, to cover filmmakers, films, themes, and genres not addressed in the first book.  And I am interested in future work (teaching and scholarship) in Scottish crime fiction, Scottish indie music, and Scottish literature since the end of the eighteenth century through the present.  

    Since this is a GE class, with no prerequisites, I don't assume students enter with any prior knowledge in either film studies or Scottish studies, but only with an interest in learning and a willingness to make an effort to do so.  Whatever knowledge in either of these areas you bring with you will help you, and it will also help the rest of the class.  Yet, again, no prior knowledge is necessary; in the fall of 2010 when I last taught English 381, and with the same focus, students with no prior knowledge in either film studies or Scottish studies did well, including students with no previous humanities course experience at the college level.


    The following books are required:

1.    Petrie, Duncan.  Screening Scotland.  London: British Film Institute, 2000. ISBN#: 0-81570-785-8.

2.    Murray, Jonathan, Fidelma Farley, and Rod Stoneman, eds.  Scottish Cinema Now.  Newcastle Upon Tyne, England: Cambridge Scholars Publishing Company, 2009.  ISBN#: 1-4438-0331-6.  

3.    Gardiner, Michael.  Modern Scottish Culture.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005.  ISBN#: 0-7486-2027-3.

4.    Corrigan, Timothy.  A Short Guide to Writing About FilmEighth Edition.  Boston: Pearson, 2012.  ISBN#: 978-0-205-23639-8.  

5.    Craig, Carol.  The Scots’ Crisis of ConfidenceSecond Edition.  Glendaruel, Scotland: Argyll Publishing, 2011.  ISBN#: 978-1-906134-709.

6.    Robertson, James.  And the Land Stood Still.  London: Penguin, 2011.  ISBN#: 978-0-141-02854-5.

    All of these books are available for you to purchase at the UWEC Bookstore. You may purchase them elsewhere, as you wish, as long as you do acquire them in time to use for class; these days many students find many required texts for their classes through on-line booksellers.  All are readily available through that means from multiple different vendors.  I will supply additional written texts in the form of photocopied handouts, or on Desire2Learn and the W (the Student-Faculty Shared) Drive.  I will also supply copies of all the films we will screen in class, as well as all the films you will need for group interview conferences and final group projects along with all other visual, audio, and audio-visual texts that we may make use of from time to time in class as well.  Please note well that you must obtain access to the second edition of The Scots’ Crisis of Confidence, and the eighth edition of A Short Guide to Writing About Film; you may acquire access to different (complete) editions of all the other books that I have ordered if this is easier for you.  

    Screening Scotland provides an introductory overview of the history of Scottish cinema through the year 2000, from the vantage point of a turn-of-the-century scholarly consensus; in this book author Duncan Petrie identifies major themes and elucidates major developments in this same broad sweep of history, largely recounted in chronological order, while at least briefly touching upon hundreds of different films and filmmakers.  Scottish Cinema Now is an edited anthology of sustained scholarly essays focused on precisely defined topics, concentrating on new and renewed areas of particular interest among Scottish Cinema Studies scholars over the course of the first decade of the 21st century.  With Modern Scottish Culture author Michael Gardiner offers a textbook introduction, written for beginning undergraduate and advanced high school level students, to What is Scotland, Scottish History, Scottish Philosophy, Education in Scotland, Religion in Scotland, Scots Law, Sport in Scotland, Scotland’s Languages, the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Literature, Scottish Visual Arts and Architecture, Scottish Mass Media, and Scottish Music.  In A Short Guide to Writing About Film author Timothy Corrigan offers a quick introduction not only to how to write about film but also to how to write compellingly in general, in an academic context, and to how to watch, listen to, take notes on, study, and analyze film critically. The Scots’ Crisis of Confidence provides a simultaneously both ambitious and accessible analysis of the distinctive dimensions of Scottish national character, or of ‘Scottishness’, which author Carol Craig anatomizes on the basis of a lucid synthesis of philosophical, sociological, and social psychological theories, and which she situates in a lucid synthesis of historical and contemporary contexts.  James Robertson’s And the Land Stood Still is one of the most critically acclaimed Scottish novels of recent times, lauded as representing “the story of a nation,” of Scotland from the end of World War II through the early 21st century: an epic fictional portrait involving numerous significant characters, many significant settings (in terms of both place and time), multiple significant plot lines and crisscrossing narrative trajectories, and a diversity of stylistic modes (ranging from the naturalistic to the experimental).  


W 9/5: Introduction and Orientation.  Screening and Discussion of Select Short Films.

    Read for Class, W 9/5:                     

    A Short Guide to Writing About Film: From Chapter 1 (“Writing About Movies”), 7-17 and From Chapter 2 (“Beginning to Think, Preparing to Watch, and Starting to Write”), 26-35.

    Syllabus and Introductory Print Lecture (“Scottish Cinema: an Introduction”), distributed electronically.

M 9/10: Screening, Brigadoon (108 minutes) and Whisky Galore! (82 minutes).

W 9/12: Discussion, Key Issues from Readings, Brigadoon, and Whisky Galore!

    Read for Class, W 9/12:

    Screening Scotland: From “Introduction: Some Key Issues in Scottish Cinema,” 1-8, and From “Chapter Two: The View from the Metropolis,” 32-35 and 42-45.

     A Short Guide to Writing About Film: From Chapter 3 (“Film Terms and Topics for Film Analysis and Writing”), 37-48 and 51-76.

M 9/17: Screening, The Hasty Heart (102 minutes) and The Brothers (98 minutes).  Weekly Homework Short Essay #1 Assigned.    

W 9/19: Discussion, Key Issues from Readings, The Hasty Heart, and The Brothers.  Weekly Homework Short Essay #1 Due.      

    Read for Class, W 9/19:

     Screening Scotland: From “Chapter Two: The View from the Metropolis,” 40-42 [paragraphs discussing The Brothers].

    The Scots’ Crisis of Confidence: “Chapter 2: Through a Glass Darkly,” 36-60; “Chapter 3: Sceptical Scots,” 63-86; and “Chapter 10: Holier than Thou,” 221-233.

     A Short Guide to Writing About Film: Chapter 5 (“Style and Structure in Writing”), 108-125 and From Chapter 7 (“Manuscript Form”), 156-171.

M 9/24: Screening, Bonnie Prince Charlie (136 minutes) and Culloden (69 minutes).  Weekly Homework Short Essay #2 Assigned.    

W 9/26: Discussion, Key Issues from Readings, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and Culloden.  Weekly Homework Short Essay #2 Due.      

    Read for Class, W 9/26:

    Screening Scotland: From “Chapter Three: The Jacobite Legacy,” 53-67.

     Modern Scottish Culture: “Chapter 1: What is Scotland?,” 1-21,  and “Chapter 2: Cultural History I: Before 1822,” 26-39.

    The Scots’ Crisis of Confidence: “Chapter 9: The Utopian Streak,” 205-219, and “Chapter 12: Complex Inferiority,” 264-283.

M 10/1: Screening, The Flesh and the Fiends (94 minutes) and Floodtide (86 minutes).  Weekly Homework Short Essay #3 Assigned.    

W 10/3: Discussion, Key Issues from Readings, The Flesh and the Fiends, and Floodtide.  Weekly Homework Short Essay #3 Due.     

    Read for Class, W 10/3:

     Screening Scotland: From “Chapter Four: An Urban Alternative,” 74-87.

     Modern Scottish Culture: “Chapter 3: Cultural History II: After 1822,” 43-62; and “Chapter 11: The Contexts of Modern Scottish Literature,” 144-156.

    A Short Guide to Writing About Film: From Chapter 6 (“Researching the Movies”), 126-145.

M 10/8: Screening, Night Mail (25 minutes), Seaward the Great Ships (28 minutes), The Waverley Steps (31 minutes), The Face of Scotland (13 minutes), They Made the Land (20 minutes), Hell Unlimited (19 minutes), Neighbors (8 minutes), and Where I am is Here (33 minutes). Weekly Homework Short Essay #4 Assigned.    

W 10/10: Discussion, Key Issues from Readings, Night Mail, Seawards the Great Ships, The Waverley Steps, The Face of Scotland, They Made the Land, Hell Unlimited, Neighbors, and Where I am is Here.  Weekly Homework Short Essay #4 Due.     

    Read for Class, W 10/10:

     Screening Scotland: From “Chapter Five: Scotland and the Documentary,” 97-108.

     Scottish Cinema Now: From (Sarah Neely and Alan Riach) “Demons in the Machine: Experimental Film, Poetry and Modernism in Twentieth-Century Scotland,” 3-10 and 15-17.

    The Scots’ Crisis of Confidence: “Chapter 4: The Pull of Possibilities,” 88-109.

M 10/15: Screening, The Bill Douglas Trilogy: My Childhood, My Ain Folk, and My Way Home (165 minutes).  Weekly Homework Short Essay #5 Assigned.    
W 10/17: Discussion, Key Issues from Readings, and The Bill Douglas Trilogy.  Weekly Homework Short Essay #5 Due.     

    Read for Class, W 10/17:

    Screening Scotland: From “Chapter Seven: A Scottish Art Cinema,” 148-151 and 158-161[through end of first paragraph on page 161].

    Scottish Cinema Now: (Cairns Craig) “Nostophobia,” 56-70.

     The Scots’ Crisis of Confidence: “Chapter 7: Knowing Your Place,” 151-172, and “Chapter 8: More Equal than Others,” 175-202.

M 10/22: Screening, Gregory’s Girl (91 minutes) and Comfort and Joy (100 minutes).  Weekly Homework Short Essay #6 Assigned.    

W 10/24: Discussion, Key Issues from Readings, Gregory’s Girl, and Comfort and Joy.  Weekly Homework Short Essay #6 Due.      

    Read for Class, W 10/24:

    Screening Scotland: From  “Chapter Seven: A Scottish Art Cinema,” 153-158.

    The Scots’ Crisis of Confidence: “Chapter 5: A Way with Words,” 110-129.

    Modern Scottish Culture: “Chapter 5: Education,” 82-89, “Chapter 6: Sport in Scotland,” 110-119, and “Chapter 14: Scottish Music,” 192-206.

M 10/29: Screening, M 10/29: Screening, My Name is Joe (105 minutes) and The Angels’ Share (101 minutes).

W 10/31: Discussion, Key Issues from Readings, My Name is Joe, and The Angels’ Share.

    Read for Class, W 10/31:

    Scottish Cinema Now: (John Hill) “'Bonnie Scotland, eh?': Scottish Cinema, the Working Class, and the Films of Ken Loach,” 88-102.

     The Scots’ Crisis of Confidence: “Chapter 6: My Brother’s Keeper,” 130-150.
M 11/5: Screening, Trainspotting (94 minutes) and Small Faces (108 minutes).

W 11/7: Discussion, Key Issues from Readings, Trainspotting, and Small Faces.  First Interpretation and Reflection Paper Assigned.

    Read for Class, W 11/7:

    Screening Scotland: From “Chapter Nine: The New Scottish Cinema: Themes and Issues,” 191-196, 196-97 [through end of first paragraph on page 197], and 203-204 [paragraphs on Small Faces].

    The Scots’ Crisis of Confidence: “Chapter 11: The Enterprise Problem,” 234-263.

    Scottish Cinema Now: (Sarah Street) “New Scottish Cinema as Trans-national Cinema,” 139-151.

M 11/12: Screening, Orphans (98 minutes) and Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself (111 minutes).

W 11/14: Discussion, Key Issues from Readings, Orphans, and Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself.

    Read for Class, W 11/14:

    Screening Scotland:  From “Chapter Nine: The New Scottish Cinema: Themes and Issues,” 213-218.

    The Scots’ Crisis of Confidence: “Chapter 13: Never Good Enough,” 286-311; “Chapter 14: “‘Nae Gless’: Pessimism in Scotland,”  286-339; and “Chapter 15: Facing the Future,” 340-346.

M 11/19: Screening, Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle (90 minutes) and Stone of Destiny (96 minutes).

W 11/21: Discussion, Key Issues from Readings, Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle, and Stone of Destiny.  First Interpretation and Reflection Paper Due. [We are required by the University to hold this class, even though it is the day before Thanksgiving, but class will end at 5 pm.]
    Read for Class, W 11/21:

    Modern Scottish Culture: “Chapter 9: Scotland’s Languages,” 121-131, and “Chapter 10: The Scottish Parliament,” 133-141.
    And the Land Stood Still: “Part Two: The Persistence of Memory,” 149-228.

M 11/26: Screening, Neds (124 minutes) and  Hallam Foe (92 minutes).

W 11/28: Discussion, Key Issues from Readings, Neds, and Hallam Foe.  Second Interpretation and Reflection Paper Assigned.

    Read for Class, W 11/28:

    And the Land Stood Still: Part Four, “Scenes from Olden Days,” 381-524.    

M 12/3: Screening, Red Road (110 minutes) and Donkeys (78 minutes).
W 12/5: Discussion, Key Issues from Readings, Red Road, and Donkeys.

    Read for Class, W 12/5:

     And the Land Stood Still: Part Five, “Questions of Loyalties,” 525-636.

M 12/10: Screening, New Town Killers (101 minutes) and 16 Years of Alcohol (96 minutes).

W 12/12: Discussion, Key Issues from Readings, New Town Killers, and 16 Years of Alcohol.

    Read for Class, W 12/12:

    Scottish Cinema Now: (Duncan Petrie) “Screening Scotland: a Reassessment,” 153-169, and (Robin MacPherson) “Shape-Shifters: Independent Producers in Scotland and the Journey from Entrepreneur to Entrepreneurial Culture,” 222-237.

* Sn 12/16: Class Conference, Final Group Project Presentations and Discussions, Room(s) and Time(s) to be Announced. *

** W 12/19: Second Interpretation and Reflection Paper Due by 4 pm in my English Department mailbox, HHH 405. **




    Monday afternoons we will screen films.  We will take a short (five-minutes long maximum) break in between the screening of each film (when we screen two feature-length films).  You may bring cushions, pillows, blankets, fold-up chairs, and any other kind of material that you might find more comfortable to sit on during these screenings than the seats already available in the classroom. You do not need to do this, but you may if you wish. You may also bring snacks as long as you try not to make a mess and as long as you clean up after yourself.  PLEASE DO NOT USE CELL PHONES DURING SCREENING SESSIONS– INCLUDING TO TEXT MESSAGE–TURN THEM OFF!  DOING THIS IS MORE DISTRACTING THAN YOU MAY REALIZE AND ALSO TO MY MIND A CLEAR SIGN THAT YOU ARE NOT ENGAGED AS YOU SHOULD BE WITH THE MATERIAL FOR THE CLASS.  IT WILL THEREFORE NEGATIVELY AFFECT YOUR COURSE GRADE TO A SUBSTANTIAL DEGREE IF YOU DO IT.  As you are watching and listening to screenings, I recommend you take notes as this can prove quite helpful in keeping focused and in helping you review what you have seen and heard later–although it is better not to take too many, or too detailed notes, such that this interferes with your ability to watch and listen carefully.  I have worked conscientiously to try to choose films that will all fit within the screening time we have, but on rare occasion a screening session may run 5 to 10 minutes past 6:30 pm; you will be expected to stay through the end even so.  This will be more than made up for by the number of times in which screening sessions will end earlier than 6:30; this will happen much more often, throughout the semester, and on those occasions you will be free to leave as soon as our last film has concluded.  

    Wednesday afternoons we will discuss readings as well as the screenings from the previous Monday afternoon.  Discussion will proceed according to a variety of formats.  I will usually prepare a packet for you of questions and other materials for study, discussion, and review that I’ll give to you at the start of class, right before we begin our screenings, each Monday.  I will design these packets to help you make sense of  readings and screenings, and we will use these to structure our discussions on Wednesdays.  These packets will also include the written homework assignment due two days later as well.  At times I will make relatively short, informal presentations, but I prefer not to lecture at length; instead I want to work with you so that we can together come to grips with the issues this course addresses.  I may prepare and post occasional written texts of extended length on Desire2Learn or the W (the Student-Faculty Shared Drive) for you to study and review on your own.  Frequently students will work for portions of our Wednesday classes in small groups.  At other times we may will review clips from films previously screened, or from additional films, as well as DVD extras.  In short, we’ll aim to keep it interesting.  I will maintain ultimate responsibility, authority, and control for the direction of our class discussions, yet I will do my best to make sure we hear extensively from everyone else.


    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 six official liberal education learning goals for undergraduate education at UWEC, and this class aims to help you, in particular, with goals number one, two, three, and 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

6.) Integrative Learning

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.


    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–in your essays and contributions to class discussion–insights you gain through your engagement with the texts and topics addressed as part of this course, and I expect you to strive at the same time to relate these texts and topics as closely and as fully as possible 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.

    In addition, 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 literature and film–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 in an intellectually serious, mature adult manner–and I will expect you to do so.

    Finally, please keep in mind that you all have much to offer of value to everyone else in the class, including to me–we all gain from you sharing with the rest of us and us engaging with your observations, reflections, interpretations, and other perspectives.  This is a general education class, which means that all you absolutely need as prerequisite to do well in it is a sincere interest in learning about the subject matter, a genuine commitment to engage diligently in so doing, and an openness to new ideas and perspectives.  People enter film classes at UWEC, like this one, from widely diverse backgrounds, and with widely diverse kinds of knowledges and experiences.  All of that is to the good.  We are here to work together–and to help each other learn.  I want everyone to do well with this class and I want you to join me in approaching this class as an opportunity for us to join together, collectively, in striving to make this happen.  You shouldn’t ever worry that other students in the class seem to know more or better than you about X or Y; everyone always knows more or better about something than everyone else, so be confident this certainly applies to you.  And if it seems some others do know more or better about something important or valuable, relax and seek to learn from them; the fact that they come to this class with this prior knowledge that you don’t already have will not significantly affect how I evaluate your performance and your contribution.  No prior knowledge taking college-level film classes is required to do well in this class, and no prior knowledge about Scottish history and culture is either.   


General Criteria: Evaluation of Student Performance
    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 texts we read, the films we screen, by me, and by each other.  I will also take account of how carefully, seriously, intelligently, enthusiastically, and imaginatively students engage with class activities, projects, and assignments.  


    This course cannot contribute effectively to students' learning if students do not attend class.  What happens in class is indispensable.  Therefore, the following attendance policy will apply:

1.)    Students may miss a maximum of three classes without needing to provide an official excuse, although students should always let me know, preferably beforehand, if and when you are not going to be able to attend a class, just as the same as you would for a shift at a paid job, because we will count on everyone in the work we will be doing together this semester.

2.)     If you need to miss more than three classes total over the course of the semester you should seek to arrange an officially authorized absence, through the Dean of Students’ Office.  Otherwise you will lose one full letter grade, off your final grade, starting with your fifth absence from class.  If you need to miss more than three classes, please contact me, as well as the Dean of Students’ Office, as soon as possible, so we can work together to make arrangements to help you make up what you miss.  

3.)    Students are expected to arrive for class on time and to stay through the very end of class.  If you don’t do so, you won’t be counted as attending class.  In addition, you need to be awake, alert, and attentive while in class; this means you can’t expect to sleep or rest in class.  Again, if you do so, this will count as an absence from class.  And the same is true of doing other school work in class or attending to other–personal–matters irrelevant to what we are focusing on at that point in time in class.  You should avoid text-messaging, or web-searching, or facebooking, or playing games on your cell phone–just to mention a few common temptations–while we are working together in class.   If you repeatedly do any of these things you will suffer a loss of one to two full letter grades (depending on the severity of the issue) for participation and contribution during each period of the semester where this becomes a problem.  Since you are all mature, responsible adults, I respect, if you choose to ignore this warning, that you also choose to accept the consequences.  In other words, I won’t repeatedly warn you not to do any of these things; instead I will just note what you are doing, and adjust your grades accordingly.  I know that cell phones–and other electronic devices, especially providing access to the internet and the world wide web–present plenty of temptation, and most of us are used to being plugged in and connected all the time, but you can and will concentrate better, learn more, and contribute more and better if you set these devices aside and put them away while we are working together in class, unless you are using these devices as part of work on class activities or projects.  If I can do so, you can too.  

4.)      IT IS VERY IMPORTANT IN THIS CLASS THAT YOU COME TO OUR WEDNESDAY DISCUSSION CLASSES HAVING DONE THE READING REQUIRED OF YOU PRIOR TO CLASS.  The quality of your own learning, and that of the rest of your classmates depends upon you taking this seriously and carrying it out conscientiously.

5.)    I will be distributing an attendance sign-in sheet at every class meeting of the semester, including for all Monday screening session meetings.  Make sure you sign this sheet at each class meeting you attend.

Weekly Homework Short Essays

    Starting the third week of the semester and running through the eighth 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 to the assigned readings for that week, as well as the films you will watch, and listen to, in class that Monday.  Homework will always be collected at the beginning of class on Wednesday.  

    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 two to three pages (or 500 to 750 words), although I recognize that some people will do well writing less and some people will do well writing more (the page and word target I have just identified is only meant to give you a loose guideline).  Key here, in evaluating your work on these homework assignments, will be how accurately, carefully, 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, as clearly and precisely as possible.

    I will grade homework on a curve, taking account of how well the class as a whole is doing with these assignments.  The principal aim of these assignments is to help you learn through thinking in writing, and to provide you the opportunity to work directly with ideas you are studying in this course.  If you make a serious, conscientious effort to learn, and you respond well to suggestions and recommendations for improvement as you proceed from one homework assignment to the next, you should do well with this work.  The first writing you will do in the class will be in the form of these weekly homework short essays so as to enable you to work your way up to writing at somewhat greater length, and on addressing films screened and readings assigned across multiple weeks.  

    You will be given six weekly homework short essay assignments during this six-week period.  You must do four of them.  You only need to do four out of the six, but if you do five or six I will count the four out of these five or six which you do the best on.  The grade for the entire series of homework short essays you will write will be worth 16% of the overall course grade.

Interpretation and Reflection Papers

    You will write two interpretation and reflection papers.  In each of these two interpretation and reflection papers you will interpret and reflect on three films screened in class. For the first of these two interpretation and reflection papers, you can choose any three of the following six films: My Name is Joe, The Angels’ Share, Trainspotting, Small Faces, Orphans, and Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself.  For the second of these two interpretation and reflection papers, you can choose any three of the following eight films: Seachd: the Inaccessible Pinnacle, Stone of Destiny, Neds, Hallam Foe, Red Road, Donkeys, 16 Years of Alcohol, and New Town Killers.

    For each of the three films you choose to interpret and reflect on, in each of these two papers, you will address the following issues: 1.) what the film represents, from what vantage point, and toward what end; 2.) what are some of the most important ways that the filmmakers go about representing what they do as well as what are some of the most important means they use to convey meaning and exert impact; 3.) what useful connections can be drawn with the readings you did and the discussions we held in conjunction with our screening of the film in class; and 4.) how you compare and contrast the film with one other film [your choice] screened in class earlier in the semester.  What you come up with, in these interpretations and reflections, will be up to you; they will be your interpretations and reflections.  But you must argue for these and work to make a compelling case for all that you propose, contend, and conclude.  The paper assignments will be explained in precise detail when distributed.

    You should aim for approximately seven to eight double-spaced typed pages with each of these papers (or, approximately, 1750 to 2000 words), although, again, I recognize that some people will do well writing less and some people will do well writing more (the page and word target I have just identified is only meant to give you a loose guideline).  Key here, in evaluating your work on these homework assignments, will be how accurately, carefully, and thoughtfully you engage with the question(s) asked of you, as well as the quality of the insights you offer.  I will also be evaluating you in terms of how effectively you are able to make use of class readings and class discussions in advancing your interpretations and reflections, how compellingly you argue for these interpretations and reflections, and how impressively you make use of the writing of these papers as occasions, in and of themselves, 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, as clearly and precisely as possible.  And, once again, I will grade each of these papers on a curve, to reflect where the class as a whole is at.  

    Each of these interpretation and reflection papers will be worth 12% or the overall course grade, for a combined total worth 24% of the overall course grade.  

Participation and Contribution

    I consider students’ active engagement, both inside and outside of class, vital to effective student learning.  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.  At the same time, however, talking which pulls us off on far-fetched tangents, which remains disconnected from and disengaged with the screenings, the readings and the rest of the class, or which effectively silences others, is negative participation.  In other words, quality participation is key, although a certain quantity is necessary in order to enable quality. Quality class participation does not, however, involve merely asking questions of me and responding to my questions; quality class participation also requires you to work to advance a serious discussion with your peers about the films we are screenings, the readings we are doing, and about the issues these screenings and readings raise for our consideration.  

    At the same time, I certainly understand that not everyone is equally at ease talking in class, for multiple and varied reasons.  Listening carefully, making effective use of what is discussed in class in papers and other assignments, and working with me (and/or with tutors in the Writing Center and the Academic Skills Center) outside of class are all other ways in which you can demonstrate your quality contribution to our collective endeavor.  At the same time, work in small group discussions and as part of group projects provide those hesitant to talk as often or as easily in front of the whole class with ready opportunities for participation and contribution.  For those who are especially shy or otherwise hesitant to speak forth in class, for whatever reason, I will provide you an opportunity to write two additional reflection papers, in which you can share with me some of what you have been thinking about and how you have been working with ideas discussed in class–demonstrating kinds and degrees of engagement, in other words, that I might not readily recognize, because of you being shy or quiet.  I will offer you opportunities to write one additional reflection paper prior to my determination of your participation and contribution grade for part one of the semester, and one additional reflection paper prior to my determination of your participation and contribution grade for part two of the semester.  

    I do urge all of you, even those of you who conceive of yourselves as shy or quiet students, to do your best to talk in class, even as part of whole class discussions, now and then; start slowly and work your way up.  Keep in mind that what you have to say matters, and that everyone struggles to articulate ideas in conversation about serious and substantial topics as precisely as we might ideally like, but we all do in fact gain a great deal from taking a stab at it, and speaking forth even when we are confused and unclear.  We can–and we will–help each other in all the more precisely formulating what we each aim to say; all you need to do is give us something, in discussion, to work with, to build upon, develop, and refine.  If you do so, that’s a highly positive contribution.  Don’t hold yourself to unrealistic standards for participation, as I certainly won’t; this is a ‘general education’ class, and a ‘general education’ level of understanding and engagement is all that I am looking for.  In my past English 381 classes most students enrolled eventually ended up participating regularly and extensively in all of our class discussions, and that was great for everyone involved.  You can do it too; I know you can–I have confidence in you; you wouldn’t be here if you were not eminently capable of doing a fine job in participation and contribution.   

    You will receive two participation and contribution grades, each corresponding roughly to one-half of the semester, with each worth 12.5% of the overall course grade, for a combined total worth 25% of the overall course grade.

Group Interview Conference

    For this assignment, I will meet with you in a conference outside of class to engage in an extended, serious, critical discussion of one earlier Scottish film (released from 1935 through 1973) that we will not screen together in class this semester.  I estimate we will talk together for approximately one hour.  You will work on this assignment as part of a group of students from our class.  

    Group interview conference assignments will take place during week three of the semester.  At that time I will also give each group a copy of the film it will be working with so that you can screen it individually, as well as collectively, and review it–as well as any special features on the DVD–in preparation for the conference.  I will also give you the specific questions ahead of time that I want you to come to the conference prepared to address.  The conference will happen approximately two weeks later at a mutually convenient time for all of us, and it will take place in my office.  The films that student groups will be working with for their interview conferences are as follows: I Know Where I am Going!, The 39 Steps, Edge of the World, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Tunes of Glory, and The Wicker Man.

    This assignment will be worth 10% of the overall course grade.  I will give you individual grades for this assignment (although they most likely will turn out to be the same, unless different members of the group clearly put in substantially different amounts of work on this assignment).  

Final Group Project and Class Conference

    Once again, you will work together with a group of fellow students from our class on this project.  I will give each group three Scottish films we will not screen together as part of the course.  Your task will be to prepare a presentation that uses these films as a point of departure, reference, and return in order to help illuminate, as well as stimulate, thinking and discussion, in relation to a.)  a significant issue in Scottish cinema studies, as well as b.) a significant issue in Scottish history, society, politics, and/or culture.  You yourselves, in your groups and in consultation with me, will determine, based upon what the films you are working with suggest, precisely what these specific issues will be.  At the end of the semester you will present what you have come up with as part of a public class conference; you will have approximately 45 minutes time to present, followed by approximately 30 minutes time to engage in–and lead–discussionThis class conference will take place on Sunday December 18 (rooms and times to be arranged).  It will be open to the public to attend as interested and able.

    I will make more specific suggestions to you for this project as you proceed to work on it. And I will also later offer you a more detailed explanation of how I conceive of the goals of this assignment as well as the criteria for evaluation I will use.  Also, groups as well as individual members from groups are welcome–and indeed encouraged–to meet with me in conference as you are thinking through and working on the presentation so I can help assist you in your planning and preparation.  

    Here are the films that groups will work with for these final projects: 1.)  Just Another Saturday, Just a Boy’s Game, and A Sense of Freedom; 2.) The Winter Guest, Breaking the Waves, and The Governess; 3.) Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar, and We Need to Talk About Kevin; 4.) Ae Fond Kiss, Nina’s Heavenly Delights, and Gregory’s Two Girls; 5.) Braveheart, Rob Roy, and The Eagle; and 6.) Stella Does Tricks, Sweet Sixteen, and Shallow Grave.

    All students must attend at least one other session besides their own during the run of the class conference.  Your work on this assignment will be worth 25% of the overall course grade.  I will give each group member a group self-evaluation sheet where you will evaluate the work of each member of your group, including yourself, in preparing your project as well as in presenting and discussing it; I will take these evaluations as well as my own assessment of your work into account in determining your (individual) grades for this assignment.  If you all work well together, and all contribute equitably, then the members of your group will likely all receive the same grade, but, if not, no one will suffer grade-wise as a result of difficulties presented by another group member’s failure to follow through on task and on time, to contribute equitably, to work well with fellow group members, or to be well prepared for the class conference.  

Extra Credit Class Party

    On Saturday October 20 I will host an extra credit ‘Scottish party’ at my house.  We will have Scottish food–and drink, listen to Scottish music, and play Scottish games.  What’s more, in the spirit of Halloween (or Samhain), this will be a costume party, where you can come as any Scottish character, past and present, including from any of the films we will have screened and discussed to date.  Alternately, you can dress in ‘Scottish style’ of any one kind or another, and give yourself an appropriate Scottish name (which need not be a particular historical or fictional figure).  How elaborate you make your costume–or don’t–is entirely up to you.  And because Scottish literature–and film–has demonstrated a penchant for mystery, murder, crime, detection, and the like (as well as following in the spirit of Halloween) we will incorporate a ‘murder party game’ theme.  This mid-semester class party will give us an opportunity for a relaxed, light-hearted, fun way of playing off of some of the ideas and issues we will be working with in class this semester, as well as a chance for you to indulge your creativity.  Just for coming and participating in the class party, you will earn 10% extra credit.  You are also free to invite friends from outside of our class to come to this party with you as well.  More details, including times and directions, will follow.  

Other Extra Credit Opportunities

    Beyond the aforementioned extra credit opportunity, students can earn 2.5% extra credit for each session they attend–and where they actively participate–at the final class conference, besides their own session, and besides the one other session everyone must minimally attend.

    In addition, we will have a low-key, end of the semester party, together with students from my English 210 class, your friends and their friends, during finals week, for which you will have an opportunity to earn a yet additional 2.5% extra credit just for coming along and participating in this event.

    Finally, for those interested, you may write an extra credit paper offering your interpretations of and reflections on And the Land Stood Still, as a whole novel.  We are only reading three out of six parts of this novel as a class, only approximately half of the novel, but if you are interested in doing so, you could read and write a paper on the entire novel.  If you are interested in this possibility consult with me about it by the end of the week of Monday November 26 through Friday November 30, and we will decide together on a precise focus, and format, for this extra credit paper. Writing this extra credit paper on And the Land Stood Still will be worth 7.5% of the overall course grade.  

Academic Honesty

    Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are serious offenses.  They not only undermine the goal of learning but also are exploitative of the work of others.  Deliberate dishonesty in written work as part of this course will result in a failing grade.  In addition, plagiarism may result in further disciplinary action on the part of the University administration, ultimately including expulsion from the University.


    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 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 screenings, readings, and discussions, as well as to help you with your writing for, participation in, and contribution to this class.  I want to make sure that I do all that I can to help you succeed in this class and I want to help you, as far as I can, to gain as much out of it as possible through your 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, so please do not worry about “disturbing” me in coming to talk with me; these are times I have set aside to work with students; that is their purpose.  Let me know that you would like to meet with me, and don’t assume that this is a big deal of any kind; I think it’s great when students want to meet, talk, and work on matters related to a class I am teaching.  I am pleased whenever you do so.   

* 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 *


    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!