All assignments must be completed and submitted at the beginning of
the class period on the due date assigned and in the assigned format.
Each assignment will have specific features; however, essay assignments
must be typed in Times New Roman and double-spaced on white 8 1/2"
x 11" paper with one-inch margins on all sides. Essays that do
not fit the required format will automatically be considered late and
be deducted one letter grade. You will turn in BOTH a hard copy
and an electronic copy. The hard copy will be taken up at the
beginning of class and the electronic copy should be emailed to me before
the class period the assignment is due.
These assignments are due in class and in my inbox, at the beginning
of class, on the dates indicated. Your assignment grade will be dropped
by one full letter grade for every day it is late. Also, there will
be additional assignments and materials not indicated on this sheet
(all changes will be posted on our class schedule on my webpage), and
both this schedule and individual assignments are subject to change
AND WILL CHANGE.
Some assignments are individual, while others are group based. If the
group assignment is late, everyone in the group is penalized. However,
it is not an absolute that everyone in the group receives the same grade.
I will conduct both self and group peer evaluations as a means of monitoring
the work load balance within the groups.
If you are going to be absent on the day that an assignment is due,
email the assignment to me BEFORE our class period and it will not be
Professionalism, Participation, Attendance 10%
You are expected to regularly attend class and vigorously take part
in class discussions. You should be prepared with questions and comments
for every lesson, engage the materials that we cover, and actively employ
critical thinking skills. Thus, while our "feelings" and personal
responses to a text or rhetorical suggestion are a useful place to begin
a discussion, you will be expected to go beyond these sorts of "gut
reactions" and like/dislike responses. In other words, you will
not only be expected to converse about the primary and secondary texts,
but to test (via class participation) your critical thinking and interpretive
skills. You must also take part in peer review workshops, in-class assignments,
and various other group activities. Failure to regularly participate
in class discussions, as well as missing any workshop or group project
day, will negatively affect your participation grade.
NOTE: Screenings are REQUIRED! I will be taking role and you are expected
to attend and take notes throughout the screenings.
Three Outside Viewing Reports 10%
• Outside Viewing Report 1
• Outside Viewing Report 2
• Outside Viewing Report 3
Please note that there will be NO Peer Review Analysis accompanying
these Reports. The 1st draft IS the final draft. There will be no rewrites.
• Standard 81/2”x11” white paper with 1” margins
on all sides
• Double spaced
• Typed in black ink, Times New Roman, size 12 font
• MLA style with your name, the course title and section number,
my name, date in the top left hand corner. Put the location of screening,
date of screening and the movie title at the bottom of the your last
page. The title of the report (something more interesting than “A
Report on Chicken Little”) should be in the center of the page.
The heading and title should NOT be repeated on subsequent pages.
• Page numbers with your last name in the upper right-hand corner
of all subsequent pages
• Stapled in upper left-hand corner
You will also turn in an electronic copy via email attachment in either
.doc or .rtf. These should be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
before the class period that the assignment is due.
Assignment Description and Specifications
• At least 2 FULL pages (which means at least one word on the
3rd page along with the location of the screening, date of screening,
and the movie title at the bottom of the final page. There is a 4 page
• A ticket stub, program, or some other indication that you did
indeed see the movie stapled to the front.
To expand your film viewing experience, you will be expected to view
at least 3 theatrical-release films (or, in the case of the CMC and
some film festivals, a movie that isn’t readily available to the
public) outside of class and in a variety of venues. You must watch
at least 1 film at the Hippodrome, a film festival, the Harn, or other
"alternative" viewing space (such as the CMC) and 2 films
at standard cineplexes. For each film you should submit a report briefly
describing the film and your response to it and making connections to
class readings and screenings. You may also choose to illuminate how
your viewing experience was influenced by the space in which you screened
Plot summary should be limited to no more than a short paragraph. Instead
of copious amounts of summary, you should attempt to analyze one or
two key aspects of the film in terms of what you have learned in this
class and how they work to define your overall response to the movie.
Because these reports are intended to measure your experiences, I will
expect your responses to become more sophisticated as the class progresses
and your knowledge of film form and criticism increases. Thus, you should
be able to cover the following topics by the report indicated:
1. Issues of audience and viewing space, narrative discourse, development,
narration, and mise-en-scene
2. Cinematography, editing, a bit of film history, the star phenomenon,
notions of counter-cinema and auteurism
3. A more comprehensive notion of film history, genre, ideological critique,
and theoretical frameworks
Of course, you are by no means expected to cover all of these topics
in a short 2-page report; just try to incorporate one or two formal
and/or critical concepts in each paper. You are very much encouraged
to express your personal response to the film; nonetheless, your opinion
should be thoroughly supported by what you have learned in this class.
• Clearly articulates the viewer’s response to the film
• Demonstrates a knowledge of course material and how the film
can be illuminated by the concepts, theoretical gestures, and formal
• Displays familiarity with whole film through an analysis of
a few key aspects
• Utilizes concrete examples from the film in order to support
the chosen aspects
• Limits plot summary
• Exhibits an engaging and professional voice
• Correct grammar and word usage
Reading and Viewing Journal and Blog10%
In a separate notebook designated only for this class, you will keep
a journal over the course of the semester, to be turned in twice (around
the semester mid-point and near the end of the semester), in which you
respond to the class readings and films. You may keep this journal electronically
through either the main class wiki, or on your group wiki. All of the
films we view in our screening period must be discussed, and you need
to refer to at least one class reading per week. Relevant comments from
class discussion may also be incorporated, and illustrations are also
welcome (such as sketches that might help you to think about a visual
idea under discussion), if you find these helpful. Entries might be
organized in many different ways: by date written, film title, more
general heading, etc. How regularly you write in this journal is up
to you (I’ll only see it twice), although I would say at least
once a week will probably help you to keep a handle on it, and such
regularity will also help to make it a more useful space for you to
work out ideas. The easiest way to use this journal is to keep it with
your class texts and write notes as you do the class reading and then
bring it to screenings and take notes either while viewing the films
or directly after watching them. Consider this a workbook of cinema
(This is, in fact, the literal translation of the title of the New Wave
journal, Cahiers du Cinema), a space within which you can think
about ideas, argue with the readings, synthesize critical texts and
films, and begin processing the material you will work through more
formally in your papers.
I may call on you to read selections from them to the class from time
to time to facilitate discussion. Consequently, you should avoid writing
"filler" or "b-s" just to meet the minimum writing
requirements, AND you should bring your journal to class every day.
As part of your journaling grade you will also be required to post responses
to our blog throughout the semester. As in classroom discussions, messages
on the blog should be thoughtful, but these will not be graded on grammar
or mechanics. The blog should act as an informal space in which students
can expand on points made in class, discuss films, and generally think
through any filmic issues. Be aware that the blog is on the internet
and is not password protected. While it is not a public blog and only
linked from my webpage, it is still on the internet. You may include
items from your journal in the blog. The blog post will be due each
Sunday by midnight.
Formal Scene Analysis Essay 10%
Choose a scene or sequence from a film of your choice (which you will
post to the wiki and have approved) and do an analysis and interpretation
of it. How does the scene utilize mise-en-scene, cinematography, and
editing? Why is this scene important to the film as a whole? In this
paper you are moving from the details of the scene to the film as a
whole, taking one part of the film as representative of its entire aesthetic
or thematic meaning or perhaps in opposition to what you see as the
film’s meaning. If a film is indeed, as we have posited, a powerful
form of argument, how do the formal considerations enhance or perhaps
undercut the argument you think the film is making? You will need to
use detailed support for your argument and fully explain why the specific
elements in the scene are significant. You will use at least one of
the class reading selections to support your analysis. The essay should
be 3-4 pages.
In-class Discussion Pairs 10%
Pairs will be responsible for leading one discussion presentations
of 20-30 minutes on the readings assigned for that day (this will begin
the second week and continue throughout the semester; pairs will sign
up on the wiki). Your panel must pre-read the assignments they are presenting;
I will meet briefly with the groups prior to presenting, to answer questions
and provide assistance. Each panelist will receive an individual grade
for his/her part of the presentation, so everyone must have a chance
to speak (how you coordinate or divide up the material is up to you).
However, this is not a formal presentation, this is a chance to lead
discussion. You should not dominate the conversation, instead your pair
should facilitate discussion. Notes, overheads, charts, visuals, etc.,
are welcome, but do not just read an essay. Experiment -- the purpose
of the presentations is to clarify class readings and discuss them.
Assume that the class has done their homework and read the material;
therefore, rather than regurgitating the material, panelists should
think of how they can play with the ideas discussed and perhaps expand
on them (think, not of re-presenting the material, but representing
it). Don't be afraid of games, exercises, and humor. Incorporate relevant
films or clips when necessary. Try not to be too repetitious -- coordinate
the materials with your group. Finally, don't be afraid of pointing
out confusing parts of the text(s): if something's confusing or unclear
to you, chances are it is to the rest of the class, too. Use this as
a starting point for useful exploration and discussion.
This is also a time to get to know other people in the class, their
work habits and styles, and their thinking about the readings before
your final group project.
You are welcome to use your group wiki with the discussion:
Auteur presentation 15%
Who is the director? What do they bring to the film? This presentation
asks you to consider the concept of auteurism that we've been discussing
in the most recent unit of the course. For this assignment you will
closely examine the work of a director of your choice, which you will
sign up for on the class wiki. Sign up early because two students can
not have the same director. You will present your director to the class
with a handout and clips. These presentations should be 10-15 minutes
in length and give the class an overview of your director. In this way
the class will be exposed to more movies and directors then possible
in our screening times. In addition to your presentation, you will post
a discussion of at least three films from the director, address specific
scenes within those films, and a works cited page on the class wiki.
This will create a database of directors. Pay close attention to mise-en-scene,
cinematography, music, etc., to support your argument about your auteur.
Does your director constitute an auteur? Why or why not? Again, pay
close attention to various technical elements to support your position.
Be sure to quote from readings and give examples from the films to support
Our class reading Citizen
Bickle,or the Allusive Taxi Driver: Uses of Intertextuality by John
Thurman in Senses of Cinema makes a persuassive case for auteurism summed
up in the final two sentences of the article: "Scorsese, for his
part, by his conscious use of intertextuality, underscores the validity
of the concept of authorship, and the importance of authorial intentions.
Contrary to one Frenchman's notion, the auteur is not dead."
You can use this article as an example for singular case of auteurism
Theory and Ideology Critique 15%
Film Pick: sign up on Wiki
Peer Review Workshop and Rough Draft
a) Combining what you have learned from formal analysis, historical
movements and genres, and theoretical frameworks, develop an in-depth
analysis of one film of your choice (preferably that deals with children
or childhood in some respect, but that is negotiable). What kind of
critical practice have you developed so far? How can you use what you
have learned to write about a particular film and to formulate a theoretical
approach? Focusing on a detail, incident, character, scene, shot, or
directorial signature from the film, examine formal, institutional,
and ideological questions relating to the film's historical context,
the conditions under which it was made, general questions about audience
and reception, and how all of these elements interrelate. Use this essay
to raise ideological questions about both film and film analysis. You
may make an argument about the propagation of cultural ideologies in
a film, investigate the critical implications of the particular kind
pleasure we receive from a film, or utilize a particular theoretical
approach to help you discern "meaning" from a filmic text.
b) Students who choose may consult with me concerning web and "creative"
options in lieu of a standard essay; however, these alternatives must
consist of an equivalent amount of work to a 5-6 page research paper.
I highly encourage students to consider this option. This could include
such creative works as making your own short traditional film, creating
a film using the video game The Movies, creating a webpage, or whatever
creative aspect you come up with.
Sample Creative Web Project By
Regardless of form, you will use at least 2 sources from our class
texts and 2 outside sources.
Historical Movements and Genres Group Project 20%
• Historical Movement or Genre pick (this is 1st come-first serve
posted to the class wiki)
• Group topic proposal
• Peer Review and In-Class Preparation
• Peer Review Analysis
• Final Drafts with Handouts and Presentations
Note: The final project will be due on the last day of class, not on
the day that you present.
Assignment Format (for the Group Project)
Each group will be assigned a wiki for their group project. The project
can be written as a linear paper, or it can use more of a webpage design
with the wiki.
Assignment Description and Specifications
• A group topic proposal in which the group briefly outlines its
proposed thesis, the films it will be examining, and the individual
• Each group member will write 3-5 pages concerning her/his specific
section of the group paper, which should total 10-15 pages. This does
not include the cover page, works cited pages, or plot segmentations.
• Each individual section must include at least two different
sources that are correctly cited and that directly support your thesis.
One of these must be selected from your Film Theory and Criticism book,
and one must come from some reputable outside source (ex. Scholarly
film journal—i.e. NOT Entertainment Weekly—book of scholarly
criticism on your film, director, movement, historical period, or theorist
you are working with). Film Art DOES NOT count as one of your sources,
but you may cite it.
• Each section must include a separate works cited page with correct
• Plot segmentations of the two films covered in the project—this
should be done as a group
• A group handout (with enough copies for everyone in class) that
gives a clear timeline of the major moments in the historical movement
or genre, the political, theoretical, and ideological influences, and
the group argument concerning the two films and how they are related
to their contemporary movement or genre and each other.
• A group presentation in which EVERY MEMBER participates equally.
This presentation should be creative in nature, include clips, some
sort of class interaction, and take roughly 30 minutes.
• Finally, each group project must include a self and peer evaluation.
Group Work and the Paper
For this assignment, you will have a chance to experience a collaborative
learning and research process that evokes the collective work that is
cinema. Focusing on one particular historical movement or genre, as
part of a group you will conduct research into its history, theoretical
foundations, stylistic techniques, and narrative, formal, and generic
characteristics. In particular, your group paper will briefly address
a historical movement or genre and compare and/or contrast two films,
emphasizing how they relate to that movement or genre. The paper should
be divided into 4 major parts with 2 members in charge of sections 2
and 3, and 1 member taking up sections 1 and 4; in other words, 1 person
will be responsible for the introduction and conclusion, and 2 people
will flesh out the evidential body. The 4 sections should be roughly
1. Establish the historical movement or genre and its main tendencies,
with an introduction of the two films to be analyzed and the group's
thesis concerning the relationship between the films and the particular
movement or genre. This part of the paper should introduce the group's
argument and situate it historically. (2-3 pages).
2. and 3. Analyze how the two films relate to the historical movement
or genre introduced in section 1. These two sections should focus on
how the films adhere to or depart from an historical mode and what those
adherences or departures might suggest for the significance of your
films or the movement as a whole, OR the convergent or divergent aspects
of the genre that are represented through the two films and what these
similarities and differences signify. These sections should consider
the possible material and ideological influences of the historical period
and context that inform the films as well as various theoretical arguments
about the nature and purposes of film. Of course, these sections should
clearly relate back to the thesis introduced in section 1 and have a
topic sentence that acts as a mini-thesis for the section. These two
sections can be organized according to the contrasting films, particular
stylistic elements, theoretical trajectories, etc. (3-5 pages each).
4. A conclusion that ties all of these concepts together (1-2 pages)
Your group will find that examining a few key sequences in relation
to their overall structure and meaning rather than attempting to explain
everything about the films will best serve your argument. Do not attempt
to cover every possible meaning and element of the films. Instead, strive
to focus on what you feel are several of the most significant elements
and fully develop them in relation to the larger movement or genre.
In doing so, your group should construct a strong argument for what
you feel are the functions, effects, and meanings of these significant
filmic elements within your films and within the movement or genre as
a whole. What is the nature of the difference within the films? Is it
merely stylistic? Does it indicate an historical shift? Ideological
Your group should take 30-40 minutes to teach the class, in a creative
and engaging way, about what you have learned throughout your research.
You should show clips (limit these to 10-12 minutes), have a handout,
and provide an interactive presentation that gets the class interested
in the historical movement/genre and films you are showing. Each member
should participate and NO ONE should read the paper. You are teaching
the class, and the presentation should reflect your knowledge of the
subject at hand.
Your final project is not due on the day you present, but on the last
day of class.
• A clear and powerful thesis statement (or “topic sentences”)
• Adequate evidence that clearly supports your thesis and includes
concrete details/OR, if you are doing the introduction and conclusion,
clearly establishes the historical framework in a critical context and
supports this with concrete details
• Direct quotation from at least 2 sources that support your thesis
and are well incorporated into your argument
• Avoids lengthy and unnecessary plot summary
• A professional and engaging voice and tone
• Correct grammar, mechanics, and word usage
• Adequate organization, depth, creativity, and clarity of argument
• Evidence of extensive revisions and improvement from rough draft
• Presentation is creative, engaging, and thoroughly covers the
points in your group argument
• A good use of clips—uses them economically
• Each member contributes equally
• Class handout is detailed and useful to class members
Possible Historical Movements and Genres
*Postwar Era Avant Garde
*Hong Kong Action
*Iranian New Wave
**Note: GreenCine has an excellent series of “Movie Primers”
that might help you in your research and selection choices: http://www.greencine.com/static/primers/index.jsp