English 181: Introduction to Film, Video,
    and Moving-Image Culture
    Section 003: M 3-6:30 pm (Screenings) and
    W 3-5:30 pm (Discussions), HHH 323
    Spring 2006, UWEC

    Professor Bob Nowlan

    Office: HHH 425,  Office Phone Number: (715) 836-4369
    Office Hours: MWF 12-1 p.m., M 6:40-7:30 pm, T 8:50-9:30 p.m.,
    W 5:40-6:30 pm, and By Appointment
    E-mail: Professor Bob Nowlan
    Website: http://people.uwec.edu/ranowlan

    Maria Boland, Senior Student Mentor (bolandmr@uwec.edu)


    English 181: Introduction to Film, Video, and Moving-Image Culture is an introduction to the critical study of film and video: to the interpretation and evaluation of film and video in cultural context.  

    Culture includes everything that we, as human beings, have created in the course of our entire history, in distinction from what nature itself has given us.  Specific cultures (as well as specific subcultures) comprise the sum total of the particular knowledges, capacities, fields of work (and fields of play), customs and habits, traditions, values and attitudes, social roles and identities, and shared ways of thinking, feeling, acting, interacting, and behaving that characterize and, more importantly than merely characterize, that internally unify and externally differentiate particular regions, classes, and other social groups.  

    Film and video constitute principal constituents of 1.) moving-image culture (i.e., culture produced, distributed, exchanged, and consumed in the form of constellations of moving-images), 2.) human culture at large, and 3.) myriad specific national, regional, local, racial, ethnic, class, gender, sexual, generational, political, religious, artistic, philosophical, recreational, and avocational cultures (and subcultures).  (For the sake of simplicity of expression, I will refer from this point forward in much of the rest of this course explanation statement to 'films' when I am actually describing films, videos, and other kinds of moving-image cultural productions.)

    Throughout the history of world cinema, three principal objectives have driven forward the production, distribution, exhibition, and reception of film:

1.) the provision of entertainment, especially as diversion, distraction, and amusement;

2.) artistic expression and communication-concerned with aesthetic issues such as capturing and conveying the felt experience of the ordinary and the extraordinary, the everyday and the unusual, the familiar and the unfamiliar, and, especially, "the beautiful" and "the sublime"-in both the natural world and human society;


3.) social critique-as contribution to, and instrument of, social 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.

    What's more, even when mainstream media productions do address serious issues, they often do so in reductively simplistic and sentimentally trivializing ways.  Usually they don't extend messages quite as trite as "everything always turns out for the best," "don't worry, be happy," "crime never pays," or "good always triumphs over evil," yet they still usually embrace, rather than critique, cultural clichés.  For example, a film might suggest that hard work and a positive outlook on life will overcome all obstacles, or that the support of a loving family and true friends should be all we ever need to pick us up when and if we are down and need help, or that heroic individuals can always defeat even the most brutal (ab)uses of state and corporate power.

    At the same time, another popular current in contemporary Hollywood film rejects, even mocks, these naive attitudes but does so only to support a cynical view of contemporary social existence as an alienated quest for survival in an essentially selfish, corrupt, and vicious world where might makes right, style (in the sense of superficial "flash" and "glitter") matters far more than substance, and maintaining an outward facade of cool, confident control, along with a pose of proudly defiant self-reliance, always trump manifestations of fellow feeling, shared concern, and social solidarity.  In addition, of course, other common trends in contemporary Hollywood involve making films a.) that function as little more than opportunities to demonstrate the look, sound, and feel of the latest special effects technology, or b.) that delight in facile forms of pseudo-comedy-comedy devoid of wit, charm, and even humor-so as to revel in the gross, the mean, and the cruel.

    Contemporary Hollywood films often tend, moreover, to discourage us not only from questioning, challenging, and critiquing the social status quo but also from thinking for ourselves as we come to terms with what they represent to us in the course of our experience watching (and listening to) them.  These films frequently tell tales that represent "the way things are" as simply "the way they have to be"-or, even more insidious than that, as "the only way they can and should be."  They manufacture worlds that comfort us with infantilizing illusions that we are invited to accept, without question, at least for the duration of a film, as the simple equivalent of "reality" itself.  They insert us into positions within the illusory worlds they construct such that we experience no incentive to reflect either upon the process of construction or the meaning of illusion, where we are reassuringly protected from having to confront any genuinely unsettling thoughts or feelings-i.e., thoughts or feelings that linger to trouble us long after the film has ended.  These films, moreover, flatter us by providing us with a false sense of our omniscience-false because these films not only do our seeing and hearing for us but also because they attempt to take charge as well of our thinking, feeling, reacting, and responding in relation to virtually everything we encounter from the beginning to the end of the film's running time.

    In this course we will reflect critically upon the processes of manipulation I have just recounted as well as examine a number of alternative models of film production and reception that challenge this interpellation of the film spectator-auditor (viewer-listener) into the position of uncritical, passive consumer.  In fact, the films we screen in class will primarily represent this–latter–kind of cinema.  Yet we will also carefully consider the contradictions involved in processes of film production, distribution, exhibition, and reception that spark usefully critical engagements with even the most "conservative," "mind-numbing," "desensitizing," and "trivializing" forms of mainstream Hollywood "blockbuster" film.  In other words, we will seek at all times to inquire critically into how and why films, of all kinds, appeal as they do, to whom, when, where, and in response to what needs and desires, rather than simply judging them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, as ‘likeable’ or ‘unlikeable’, and as offering us occasions where we can readily ‘identity’ versus occasions where we cannot do so.  

    It is important that we subject film to critical study because, over the course of the past 110 years, audio-visual texts, especially audio-visual texts organized around the moving image, have come to exert an extremely powerful impact upon the shape and substance of individuals' lived experience of their relationship to the conditions of their own existence.  This impact is today prospectively as powerful, if not indeed often considerably more powerful, than that exerted by traditional print media.  In fact, film, television, video, and "cyberspace" have become principal sites within our contemporary Western societies for the production and dissemination, as well as the reproduction and reinforcement, of meanings, values, ideas, ideologies, and social modes of thinking, understanding, feeling, believing, acting, and interacting, even when presented to us as "sheer entertainment."

    This course will begin, first, with an introduction to the rudiments of “critical media literacy” and the “elements of meaning” involved in “reading film.”  From that point, we will turn, second, to learn about film makers' use (to express and communicate meaning) of techniques of a.)”cinematography,” b.)   “mise-en-scène, “ c.) “editing,” and d.)  “sound.”   We will here concentrate on influential and innovative uses of these techniques, including representation from "independent" film makers working outside of Hollywood and beyond the United States as well as examples from historically significant Hollywood films.  After this, we will, third, inquire into the art and politics of representation in (especially) American (primarily Hollywood) film.  In this third section of the course, we will begin with an introduction to and overview of the study of representation and ideology in film and related media, turn from there to discuss the structure and history of Hollywood, and then proceed to examine representations of issues of race and ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality in (especially American) film.

    The films I have selected to screen in this course represent a critically acclaimed and historically influential variety.   As I see it, one of my principal responsibilities in teaching this course, as an expert in cinema studies, is to introduce you to titles of films, and kinds of film making-as well as ways of interpreting and evaluating films-that you have not encountered before.   Like past students in the many Introduction to Film, Video, and Moving-Image Culture classes I have previously taught, I hope you too will come to appreciate the opportunity this course provides for an "eye-opening" experience.


    The following three required texts are available for purchase at the UWEC Bookstore:

1.)    Kasdan, Margo, Christine Saxon, and Susan Tavernetti.  The Critical Eye: an Introduction to Looking at Movies.  3rd Edition, Revised Printing.  Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt, 2002.

2.)     Benshoff, Harry and Sean Griffin.  America on Film: Representing Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality at the Movies.  Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004.

3.)    Corrigan, Timothy.  A Short Guide to Writing About Film.  Fifth Edition.  Pearson/Longman, 2004.

    You may feel free to purchase these from any other bookstore or book outlet, including by means of on-line ordering outlets (such as amazon.com), as you wish, as long as you acquire them in time to use in and for class.

    I will supply copies of other required texts used in the course in the form of photocopied handouts, weblinks, documents posted on our Desire2Learn electronic classroom (which I will explain in class before you first need to use it), and in other diverse forms.   At each screening session I will give you a study packet to use in preparing for our Wednesday discussion as well as to help guide you in making sense of readings, screenings, and connections between the two.   I will also be responsible for supplying copies of all films we will screen in class this semester.  



CE=The Critical Eye;  SG=A Sort Guide to Writing About Film; AF=America on Film
M 1/23: Introduction and Orientation, Part One; Screening, Mulholland Drive.

W 1/25: Introduction and Orientation, Part Two; Discussion: Introduction to Critical Media Literacy and Mulholland Drive.
    Read–Completely–Before Class on W 1/25 at the Latest: CE, “Chapter 1: Media Literacy,” 1-11.

M 1/30: Screening, The Return and The Devil’s Backbone.

W 2/1: Discussion, Elements of Meaning, The Devil’s Backbone, and The Return.

    Read–Completely–Before Class on W 2/1 at the Latest: CE, “Chapter 2, “Elements of Meaning,” 13-32, and SG, “Chapter 1: Writing About Movies,” “Chapter Two: Beginning to Think, Preparing to Watch, and Starting to Write,” and Selections From “Chapter 3–Film Terms and Topics for Film Analysis and Writing” (“Themes” and “Film and the Other Arts”), 1-46.

M 2/6: Screening, The Celebration and Happy Together.

W 2/8: Discussion, Cinematography, The Celebration, and Happy Together.

    Read–Completely–Before Class on W 2/8 at the Latest: CE, “Chapter 3: The Camera Eye,” 33-60, and SG, From  “Chapter 3–Film Terms and Topics for Film Analysis and Writing,” 56-62 (“The Shot”).
M 2/13: Screening, Dogville.

W 2/15: Discussion, Mise-en-Scène and Dogville.

    Read–Completely–Before Class on W 2/15 at the Latest: CE, “Chapter 4: “Mise-en-Scène,” 61-90; SG,  From  “Chapter 3–Film Terms and Topics for Film Analysis and Writing,” 49-55 (“Elements of   Mise-en-Scène”).

M 2/20: Screening, Bloody Sunday, Elephant, and Night and Fog.

W 2/22: Discussion, Editing, Bloody Sunday, Elephant, and Night and Fog.

    Read–Completely–Before Class on W 2/22 at the Latest: CE, “Editing,” 91-108, and SG,   From  “Chapter 3–Film Terms and Topics for Film Analysis and Writing,”46-49 (“Realism”) and 62-69 (“The Edited Image”).
M 2/27: Screening, Apocalypse Now Redux.

W 3/1: Discussion, Sound and Apocalypse Now Redux.

    Read–Completely–Before Class on W 3/1 at the Latest: CE, “Chapter 6: Sound,” 109-126, and SG,  From  “Chapter 3–Film Terms and Topics for Film Analysis and Writing,” 70-78 (“Sound” and “Sample Essay”).

    Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper #1 Assigned
M 3/6: Mid-Term Examination, Part One.

W 3/8: Mid-Term Examination, Part Two.

M 3/13: Screening, High Noon and Lone Star.
    Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper #1 Due

W 3/15: Discussion, Representation and Ideology, High Noon, and Lone Star.

    Read–Completely–Before Class on W 3/15 at the Latest: AF, “Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study of Film Form and Representation,” 1-22.

M 3/27: Screening, Sunset Boulevard and The Player.

W 3/29: Discussion, Hollywood–Institution and Industry, Sunset Boulevard, and The Player.

    Read–Completely–Before Class on W 3/29 at the Latest: AF, “Chapter 2: The Structure and History of Hollywood Filmmaking,” 23-46, and CE, “Chapter 8: The American Industry,” 151-174.

M 4/3: Screening, The Believer and The Letter.

W 4/5: Discussion, Race and Ethnicity, The Believer, and The Letter.

    Read–Completely–Before Class on W 4/5 at the Latest: AF, “Introduction to Part II: What is Race?” and “The Concept of Whiteness and American Film,” 49-74.
M 4/10: Screening, The Take and Bread and Roses.

W 4/12: Discussion, Class, The Take, and Bread and Roses.

    Read–Completely–Before Class on W 4/12 at the Latest: AF, “Introduction to Part III: What is Class?,” “Classical Hollywood Cinema and Class,” and “Cinematic Class Struggle After the Depression,” 157-199.         

W 4/19: Screening, Far from Heaven.

M 4/24: Screening, Antonia’s Line and All About My Mother.

W 4/26: Discussion, Far from Heaven, Antonia’s Line, and All About My Mother.

    Read–Completely–Before Class on W 4/26 at the Latest: AF, “Part IV: Gender and American Film,” 201-290 ( “Introduction to Part IV: What is Gender?,” “Chapter 10: Women in Classical Hollywood Filmmaking,” “Chapter 11: Exploring the Visual Parameters of Women in Film,”  “Chapter 12: Masculinity in Classical Hollywood Filmmaking,” and “Chapter 13: Gender in American Film Since the 1960s”).

M 5/1: Screening, Kinsey and Priest.

W 5/3: Discussion, Sexuality Part One,  Kinsey, and Priest.

    Read–Completely–Before Class on W 5/3 at the Latest: AF, “Part V: Sexuality and American Film,” 291-338 (“Introduction to Part V: What is Sexuality?,” “Chapter 14: Heterosexuality, Homosexuality, and Classical Hollywood,” and “Chapter 15: Sexualities on Film Since the Sexual Revolution”); Nowlan, “Introduction to Critical Theory of Sexuality” (To Be Made Available).

    Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper #2 Assigned

M 5/8: Screening, Y Tu Mama Tambien, I Exist, and Yossi and Jagger.

W 5/10: Discussion, Sexuality Part Two, Y Tu Mama Tambien, I Exist, and Yossi and Jagger.

    * Final Examination: Part One, M May 15, 5-6:50 pm; Part Two, T May 16, 5-6:50 pm.  Room(s) To Be Announced. *

    ** Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper #2 Due: W May 17, 12 noon,  in my English Department Mailbox, HHH 405. **



    On Mondays we will screen films.  We will take a brief break of no more than five minutes between each screening on days in which we will screen more than one film.  Students are welcome to bring pillows, blankets, and folding lounge chairs to use if you find these more comfortable than the classroom chairs.  You may also bring snacks as long as you take care to eat and drink quietly as well as not to spill anything on the classroom carpet.  Please do be careful about this as we are meeting in a recently newly refurbished classroom and we’d like to try to keep it looking good for as long as we can.   Please also note well that occasionally screening sessions will run longer than three and one-half hours, and occasionally they will run shorter; students are expected to stay through the end of screening sessions that run late, yet may leave as soon as screening sessions that run short end-the time commitment will all balance out.

    On Wednesdays we will discuss topics in film, video, and moving-image culture study based upon the assigned readings for the week as well as the films screened the previous Monday.  From time to time, I will show clips from the films screened the previous Monday as well as, occasionally, DVD extras to initiate and stimulate discussion. I will also, sometimes, show clips from other videos, DVDs, websites, CD-Roms, and DVD-Roms to help explain and illustrate key concepts.  Maria, your senior student mentor, and I likely will occasionally make use of other kinds of equipment and associated materials to demonstrate techniques, concepts, and practices as well.

    I will direct our discussions, assisted by Maria.   Often I will combine discussion with some extended opening comments and relatively short, informal initial presentations of my own.  However, I will always ask you to help out as I introduce and explain positions, concepts, methods, and practices.  Wednesday classes will involve extensive questioning of and discussion with students, following a variety of formats.  I always prefer to teach by way of discussion as opposed to lecture; students learn better through active engagement and dialogue with each other as well as with me.


    Although I expect that students enrolled in this course do greatly appreciate and enjoy watching films (as I most certainly do), and although I also suspect that a number of you may have already had some experience in film production or may wish to pursue this work in the future, as participants within this course students should be sincerely interested in learning about the critical study of film.  I expect students in this course to be consistently intellectually serious as well as academically diligent.  I expect students to strive to bring actively and extensively to bear-in your writing for class and your contributions to class discussion-insights you gain through your engagement with the films we screen, the required readings, and the topics these films and readings raise for our consideration.  Finally, I expect students to let me or Maria know right away when and if you have any questions or problems in relation to any aspect of how you are doing with the course, so that we can do everything we possibly can to help answer these questions and solve these problems.


    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 Maria, and by each other.

    This course cannot contribute effectively to your education as critical students of film if you do not attend class.  What happens in class is an indispensable part of this course.  I will keep track of student attendance and therefore I expect students to adhere to the following attendance policy for this course:

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

2.) Students should provide me with written confirmation of a serious, individual or family emergency for any further–excused–absences beyond the maximum of two unexcused absences.

3.) Students who miss more than six classes total, for whatever reason, should expect that they are unlikely to pass the course, and therefore should withdraw from the course and enroll again in a subsequent semester.

4.) Attendance at all classes in which films will be screened is required as well, even if and when the films we screen are readily available on video for you to watch and listen to elsewhere and at another time.  

5.)  Students are expected to arrive at class on time and to stay through the end of class.   Coming late or leaving early, unless for emergency reasons, counts as absent.  I will also note well students who leave class after the break during these screening sessions; not attending the entire screening session (unless you have made arrangements with me ahead of time to leave early) will count as an absence from class that day.

6.)  Students need to be awake, alert, and attentive while in class, including throughout screening sessions; this means you can’t expect to sleep or rest in class.  Again, if you do so, this will count as an absence from class.  And the same is true of doing other school work in class or attending to other– personal–matters irrelevant to the focus of what we are about in this course (e.g., text-messaging).   PLEASE NOTE WELL: CELL PHONES SHOULD BE OFF AND PUT AWAY DURING CLASS, INCLUDING DURING SCREENING SESSIONS.  STUDENTS WHO SPEND TIME PLAYING WITH THESE WHILE THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BEING PAYING CLOSE, CAREFUL, CRITICAL ATTENTION TO FILMS–INCLUDING BY TAKING NOTES AS YOU WATCH AND LISTEN–WILL SUFFER A GRADE PENALTY.  

7.) Students are responsible for finding out and making up whatever you miss if and when you do miss class.                

Learning and Contribution
        What This is and Why it is Important

    My foremost aim in teaching this course is to help you to learn something of significance and value.  I will judge you to a significant degree on what you learn, how- and how hard-you strive to learn, and on how-along with how well-you contribute to the learning for the rest of the class.

    You cannot learn or help others learn if you do not contribute.   If you don't contribute to the work of this class not only will you fail to derive as much gain from it as would be the case if you did contribute, but also you will deprive everyone else of the benefit of your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, knowledge, and experience.  In fact, to remain passively silent in class exploits the work of others who actively engage.

        Class Participation                

    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 on homework assignments, quizzes, exams, and learning and contribution reflection papers (see below as well) can make up for limitations as far as participation in class goes.  At the same time, listening carefully, respectfully, and thoughtfully in class discussions is yet another important means of contribution–as is taking time to meet and talk with me and with class mentor Maria Boland outside of class.

        Learning and Contribution Reflection Papers/Learning and Contribution Reflection Grades

    Learning and contribution will constitute a significant proportion of your overall course grade.   As part of this grade, you will write two short learning and contribution reflection papers.   For these papers I will ask you to assess how, along with how well, you have been learning and contributing in the class.   As I see it, these short papers provide you a useful opportunity to communicate with me how you believe you are doing with the course, as well as why so, and to demonstrate your critical self-reflexivity, the hallmark of a liberal arts education.  As you are assessing your own learning and contribution, you may include thoughts in reaction to issues raised in class discussion that you did not have the opportunity or did not feel comfortable enough to share in class; these additional reflections will help me get a better sense of what you have been thinking about and how you have been responding to class discussions, as well as to the readings.  I will take into account what you write in determining your learning and contribution grade for the preceding semester period; performance on these papers represents a vital component of your learning and contribution grade.

    I  will provide you specific directions in the assignments I give you for each of these papers.  Learning and contribution grades (including learning and contribution reflection papers) will be worth the following percentages of the overall course grade: #1, 10%,  and #2, 20%.

Homework Assignments and Quizzes

    Starting the second week of the semester I will give you one homework question (or series of short questions) at each Monday screening session for you to write out your response to prior to our subsequent Wednesday discussion class.  This question (or series of short questions) will relate primarily to the assigned readings for that week, but also may ask you to refer to the film(s) you will watch, and listen to, in class that Monday.   Homework will always be collected at the beginning of class on Wednesday–and no later.   

    For each homework assignment you should type out your response, double-space,  you should make sure to put your name on what you write, you should number your pages and staple separate pieces of paper together, and you should aim to cover an average of approximately one to two pages (or 250 to 500 words).  Key here, in evaluating your work on these homework assignments, will be how accurately, carefully, thoroughly, and thoughtfully you engage with the question(s) asked of you, as well as the quality of the insights you offer and the effort you demonstrate both in preparing well for discussion and in using the writing out of your response to this homework assignment as itself an occasion for significant learning.  I will not be a stickler for minute points of writing style, but you should nevertheless try to express yourself, and communicate to me, clearly and precisely.  

    Again starting in the second week of the semester, I will, at the end of our Wednesday discussion classes, ask you to write out your thoughts in response to a short quiz question (or series of short quiz questions).  These quiz questions will focus primarily on analysis of the film(s) screened the preceding Monday in relation to the concepts introduced by the assigned readings for the week, and by way of our preceding discussion in that very same Wednesday’s class.  I will evaluate your work on these quizzes according to the same criteria I indicated in the preceding paragraph that I will emphasize in evaluating your homework.  

    Homework and quizzes will be worth a combined total of 20% of the overall course grade: 7.5% for the first part of the semester (through the mid-term examination) and 12.5% for the second part of the semester (after the mid-term examination through the last week class meets).  I will give you an overall grade for homework and quizzes at the mid-term and another at the end of the semester.  Yet I will also return both of these to you every subsequent week after they are due with a brief indication in each case of how well you are doing on these assignments.      

Mid-Term Examination

    The mid-term examination will take place as follows.   On Monday March 6 you will write short critical analyses of a series of four clips from films screened prior to this point in the semester which I will re-screen for you at this time, prior to you writing each of these short critical analyses.  In each case you will respond to specific questions about the clip, the film from which it is excerpted, and the concepts I have selected it to illustrate.  This will proceed for approximately two hours and constitute part one of the mid-term examination; it will be worth 10% of the overall course grade.  

    After a break I will then screen a film for you that we have not previously watched, and listened to, together–for the remainder of the period.   On Wednesday March 8, I will screen a key clip, or several clips, from this same film at the beginning of class.   After this, you will have the remainder of the period to write a critical analysis of this film in relation to the concepts we have been studying and working with up to this point in the semester.  Again, I will give you a specific set of questions to address in doing this work.  This essay will constitute part two of the mid-term examination; it will also be worth (an additional) 10% of the overall course grade.

    This is an “open book” examination, meaning you may refer to your textbooks, photocopied handouts I will have prepared for you, notes, and any other written materials you think might prove useful in responding to any and/or all of the questions (both parts of) this examination poses of you.   

Final Examination

    This examination will again take place in two parts.   Part one of this exam (on Monday May 15, from 5-6:50 pm) will involve you writing out short critical analyses of three clips from films screened during the second half of the semester.   Again, I will screen each of these clips for you before asking you to respond to specific questions about the clip, the film from which it is excerpted, and the concepts I have selected it to illustrate.   Part one of the final examination will be worth 7.5% of the overall course grade.

    Part two (on Tuesday May 16, from 5-6:50 pm) will consist of a multi-part essay assignment related to films we have screened and issues we have read and discussed in the second half of the semester.  Part two of the final examination will be worth (an additional)12.5% of the overall course grade.  

    This is, once again, an “open book” examination, meaning you may refer, as with the mid-term exam, to your textbooks, photocopied handouts I will have prepared for you, notes, and any other written materials you think might prove useful in responding to any and/or all of the questions (both parts of) this examination poses of you.   

Desire2Learn Postings
    I am creating a Desire2Learn electronic classroom website for this class.  Beyond me posting material here for you to retrieve, I will also ask you periodically to post short reflections, comments, and critiques on this site that engage with readings and screenings in dialogue with your fellow classmates and with student mentor Maria Boland.   Your postings here may be informal, yet you should nevertheless try to write as clearly and precisely as possible.  I will also expect your postings to demonstrate you are taking each assignment seriously.  I will ask Maria to offer evaluations of how you have done with this work, and take into account her recommendations in grading your Desire2Learn postings.  This will be a space where you can engage in discussion primarily with your peers and with Maria.  

    You need not post in response to every post topic, as quality of engagement will be ultimately more important that quantity.  Yet a sufficient quantity of posts is necessary to insure quality.   Estimate you should aim to make approximately six serious, substantial, thoughtful posts each half of the semester.  

    Overall, I expect the opportunity to engage in this kind of supplementary, informal dialogue will help you in your learning and contribution, as well as make the course more interesting and meaningful for you.  It will also give you the chance to test out and receive potentially helpful feedback on ideas you might want to pursue in subsequent class discussions, papers, and exams.   In addition, this will give you a chance to share ideas that you thought of after class discussion, or that you needed more time to think out and formulate effectively in your own mind before sharing these, and Desire2Learn postings should help students who are shy about speaking forth extensively in class discussion.  I know everyone in class has much of value to offer, including those who do not feel as readily inclined or as comfortable to voice this in class discussion as some others.

    I will grade you twice on your Desire2Learn posts: 5% for the first half of the semester, and 5% for the second half of the semester.  Again, I will take into account Maria’s recommendations in determining these grades, but this will in every case be my decision.


    I am giving students in this class two different opportunities to earn a substantial amount of extra credit this semester.  

    The first opportunity requires you to attend one or more of the following International Film Society screenings (but not UAC screenings) as part of the spring 2006 UWEC campus film series:

1.  Notre Musique, R-Sn January 26-29, 6 and 8:30 pm, Davies Theatre.

2.  I am Cuba, R-Sn February 16-19, 6 and 8:30 pm, Davies Theatre

3.  Merci Docteur Rey, R-Sn February 23-26, 6 and 8:30 pm, Davies Theatre

4.  Nobody Knows, R-Sn April 6-9, 6 and 8:30 pm, Davies Theatre

5.  The Battle of Algiers, R-Sn May 4-7, 6 and 8:30 pm, Davies Theatre

    After you attend a screening, you should write an approximately two page, double-space, typed paper, offering your reflections and comments in making sense of and responding to the film.  You will give this to Maria and she will evaluate how much extra credit you should earn for doing this work.  Alternately, you can arrange to talk with Maria in a conference of at least one half-hour where you thoughtfully interpret and evaluate the same film in discussion with her.  Again, she will then determine how much extra credit you will earn.  You may do this for one, two, three, four, or all five of these films.  You will receive up to 2.5% extra credit each time you do so, for a potential total of 12.5% extra credit.  

    The second extra credit opportunity requires you to participate in helping organize and conduct the Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival, tentatively scheduled to run from Friday April 28 through Sunday May 7.  You may earn anywhere from 2.5% to 12.5% extra credit for helping out with this Festival, depending upon the quantity and quality of your contribution.   Please let me know if you are interested in this–second–extra credit opportunity and I will find a way to get you involved in helping out as soon as possible.


    This university is, as many of you well know, a liberal arts institution; education in the liberal arts (and sciences) represents the historic and central commitment of what we do together on this UW campus-not vocational training and pre-professional development.  According to the UWEC administration, the baccalaureate degree shall work to develop the following for UWEC students:

1.) an understanding of a liberal education.

2.) an appreciation of the University as a learning community.

3.) an ability to inquire, think, analyze.

4.) an ability to write, read, speak, listen.

5.) an understanding of numerical data.

6.) a historical consciousness.

7.) international and intercultural experience.

8.) an understanding of science and scientific methods.

9.) an appreciation of the arts.

10.) an understanding of values.

11.) an understanding of human behavior and human institutions.

    UWEC strives to help you meet these objectives in the course of the higher education you pursue here.   Please note that in making these our foremost aims, we at UWEC clearly distinguish ourselves from technical colleges as well as from all other UW schools, especially places like Stout and River Falls.  This section of English 190 will help contribute to you meeting goals 1-4, 6, and 9-11.

    These goals cannot be met passively by the student: each requires your striving toward it to be met.  Striving means learning actively, completing assignments in a thorough and timely fashion, participating in class discussion, and making connections (above and beyond those emphasized by us in the classroom) between what we do while meeting in class and what you do when engaged outside of 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, Maria Boland has signed on as student mentor for this class because she wants to work with and help you.  Please feel free to contact and meet with her outside of class about any matter of interest or concern; she too will hold regular office hours and be readily accessible to assist you.  Maria can be of great help do you; take advantage of the opportunity to work with her.  

    * Any student who has a disability and is in need of classroom accommodations, please contact the instructor and the Services for Students with Disabilities Office early in the semester. *


    I strive to be as responsible and as accountable to my students as possible.  I believe it is crucial that students become aware of the ideas and the values that shape and direct their education, and I believe students should expect that all of their teachers will be prepared to explain why they teach as they do.  Please, therefore, take the time, as early as you can this semester, to read through and think carefully about my "Statement of Teaching Philosophy" that I have posted on my UWEC faculty website:


This statement explains WHY I teach as I do.  I think it is extremely important that you know and understand where your teachers are coming from in teaching you as they do.  You will find me one who trusts you sufficiently always to be frank and honest about this with you.