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discover the film you'll be writing about and your paper's due
Prof. Marty Norden
The lecture period at 2:30-3:45 on Tuesday in S240 Integrative Learning Center will be followed by a screening session (listed as lab) at 4:00-6:00 in the same auditorium. The lecture period on Thursday, also at 2:30-3:45 in S240 ILC, will contain discussion and writing components.
The course's lecture periods and film screening periods are no places for texting, Facebooking, and other activities unrelated to our class. Out of consideration for me, the Teaching Assistants, and your fellow students, please do NOT engage in these distracting activities during our class periods. If the T.A.s or I discover that you are doing so, you will be asked to "cease and desist" or leave the auditorium. Also, please make sure that your phone is turned off before class begins. We look forward to your continuing cooperation on these points throughout the semester.
Each reading assignment noted below should be completed before class on the indicated date to correlate with that week's lecture material and film(s), and to facilitate discussion. Additional topics and readings may be assigned at a later date. The Glossary that starts on p. 478 of the Prince text will be helpful to you at various points in the semester.
ANOTHER WORD ABOUT OUR ONLINE SYLLABUS:
COURSE SYLLABUS AND READING ASSIGNMENTS:
WEEK OF: LECTURE: SCREENING(S): READING(S): Sep. 5-7 Course intro Living in Oblivion (1995) Chap. 10, 1 Sep. 12-14 Cinematography Seconds (1966) Chap. 2 Sep. 19-21 Production design Citizen Kane (1941) Chap. 3 Sep. 26-28 Acting Doubt (2008) Chap. 4 Oct. 3-5 Editing I Rear Window (1954) Chap. 5 ****NOTE: MONDAY SCHEDULE ON TUES., OCT. 10**** Oct. 12 Editing II Oct. 17-19 Sound The Conversation (1974) Chap. 6 ****NOTE: A MIDTERM EXAM IS SCHEDULED FOR TUES., OCT. 24 @ 2:30-3:45 P.M.**** ****A FILM WILL BE SHOWN AT 4 P.M. AS USUAL ON THIS DATE**** Oct. 24-26 Film storytelling Collateral (2004) Pp. 213-41 Oct. 31-Nov. 2 Genre patterns Moulin Rouge (2001) Pp. 241-70 Nov. 7-9 Documentaries I City of Gold (1957) "All That Glitters" High School (1968) "Documentary Film" Nov. 14-16 Documentaries II Oil & Water (2014) Pp. 318-29 Nov. 21-23 THANKSGIVING BREAK Nov. 28-30 Screen realities Waltz with Bashir (2008) Chap. 8, Pp. 308-18, 330-61 Dec. 5-7 Experimental film [To be announced] "Experimental Film" Dec. 12 Film theories No God, No Master (2013) Chap. 11Changes in the above schedule may arise with the addition or substitution of other films. In addition, we plan to show numerous excerpts from other films throughout the semester to help illustrate the readings and lecture material.
1. A close analysis of some aspect of the film's style or technique. Analyze how the film uses a specific cinematic element or combination of elements to create meaning or an emotional effect. For example, you may want to examine a film's use of black-and-white cinematography, or the camera's perspective and movement, or sound, or editing (or some combination thereof) as it relates to a film's exposition and narrative progression. Think about what central idea or ideas the film may be attempting to communicate and how certain elements or techniques are being used to achieve that communication. Consider the relationship between what the film says (its content) and how the film says it (its form). Also, think about how the film's narrative structure might work to create meaning or make you as a viewer respond or react in a certain way. Suggest by your analysis how well or poorly the filmmakers employed the stylistic element or technique. This does not necessarily have to be a library/web research paper (though you may find outside research helpful), but if you use research sources -- newspaper and magazine articles, books on the filmmakers involved, websites, etc. -- they should be appropriately cited.
2. A critical essay that examines the ways that the film functions as a social document. Evidence and arguments may be drawn from a variety of sources. To make a point, you may want to refer to the film itself and tie it in with historical research, personal experience, and articles from film journals. Be creative, but remember to give specific examples in support of your arguments. Please consider the following questions: In what respect does the film serve as a socio-cultural artifact? In other words, what does the film tell us about the filmmakers' conception of the socio-cultural setting in which the film was made? (This setting is not necessarily the same thing as the time-period depicted in the film.) Given the prevailing social attitudes, preoccupations, and restraints of the time, how effectively does the film you have chosen reflect or attack the society and culture from which it emerged? Appropriate citations are a must.
3. A study of the evolving critical response to the film. How did movie critics react to the film when it first appeared? How did their responses change over time? What do they think of it today? What were the key arguments that they made about the film? Which arguments do you agree with (and don't agree with), and why? As a part of your discussions, please offer evidence-based speculations on possible reasons for the shift in critics' views on the film over the years. You must draw upon at least five reviews for this approach, and they should ideally be spread out over a number of years. To get you started, I'd recommend that you avail yourself of our library's many online and print-based resources. A good place to start would be the library's bundled online collection of historical newspapers. (You'll need to type in your UMass NetID and password to access this collection.) The "External Reviews" section of your film's IMDb listing should be helpful, too. As with Approach #2, proper citations are required for this project.
No matter which approach you take, your paper should follow a "purpose/evidence/conclusion" structure and include a thesis statement. Your thesis statement, which should appear no later than your paper's second paragraph, will guide your write-up of the results of your investigation into the film.
The paper should be from five to six pages in length and must be typed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins. Please do NOT rely solely on web-based materials for your paper's sources; the web should stand alongside the library as a resource, not replace it. As a general rule, no more than half of your sources should be materials that originally appeared on the web. Please note that you MUST include citations (either endnotes or MLA-style parenthetical cites) within the text of your paper; a bibliography alone will not be enough. I as the reader of your paper should not have to guess where your sources leave off and your own observations begin. Please follow this general guideline whenever you present a point of information in your paper: if it is not your own observation and is not general knowledge, you should provide a citation for it. This guideline applies not only to direct quotations but also paraphrased material -- i.e., you should give a citation if you put someone else's observations into your own words.
If you have never written a paper about a film before (or even if you have), I recommend that you look over Timothy Corrigan's excellent A Short Guide to Writing About Film. Various editions of this book are available in all of the Five College libraries. I also suggest that you read "Writing a Critical Paper" on pp. 472-475 of the Prince textbook. Finally, I recommend that you make and keep a copy of the paper (whether a photocopy, a computer print-out, or an electronic document stored on a hard drive) until you receive the original back from me.
Do not e-mail me your paper under any circumstances. Submit a hard copy only, please.
As noted above, your paper will be due two weeks after the movie's screening. I will notify you of the specific due date once I have assigned a film to each student in our class. I will accept late papers but for reduced credit and only if you have made arrangements with me in advance.
None of the three approaches I've listed above requires my prior approval; just choose whichever one you'd prefer and go with it. However, if you would like to follow an approach that differs from what I've described above or prepare an alternative project that's related to the film I've assigned to you (e.g., a self-designed website about that film, a short video that analyzes part of the film), you MUST clear it with me before you begin. Please e-mail me at norden(at)comm.umass.edu or visit me during my office hours, and we'll discuss it.
C. WEEKLY RESPONSE PAPERS
AND FINALLY, AN "INCOMPLETE" THOUGHT:
Please contact me if you have any questions about our course requirements.