Blog Post 8.5: Passages for Wednesday, March 22

Hi everyone,

Here’s a thread for the first round of our new Wednesday assignment, the passage post: by class time Wednesday, you should post in this thread a passage (roughly 2-4 sentences) from one of the readings for Wednesday that you find particularly interesting, surprising, inspiring, problematic, or otherwise significant. Remember to cite the author and page number for your passage. If you have any questions, let me know!

Blog Post 8: Sonic Technology and Remix Aesthetics

Hi everyone,

Really nice discussion of War of the Worlds, radio, mass culture, and truth/falsity across media yesterday — a good way to cap off the pre-spring break portion of the course. When we come back we’ll turn to sonic media in a different capacity, thinking about the aesthetic and social significance of technologically produced music.

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Our first day back, we’ll look at disco and early hip-hop — you should read the excerpt from Ulf Poschardt’s DJ Culture in the packet and watch/listen to the relevant clips on the class playlist (this is clips 16-23: Donna Summer, Grandmaster Flash, and Eric B. and Rakim, including multiple clips by the latter two). Then for your post you should spend some time thinking about and responding to what seems most significant to you about this material, particularly Poschardt’s writing. As I mentioned yesterday, the blog posts for this second half of the course will be a little more open-ended from here onwards — so you might think about what’s important about how DJing and remixing work with pre-existing sounds, or the social or sexual implications of disco, or what kinds of dancing disco and early hip-hop inspire and what’s important about that, or any other issues that strike you as interesting or surprising, as long as you ground your discussion in some close analysis of both the textual and the sonic material for this day.

Have a great break and I’ll see you all when we get back!

PS: As a reminder/clarification, the How to Watch (More) Television chapter is now due the Friday we come back from break (the 24th) at midnight. Hopefully this should give everyone time to watch and think over break, and then focus on writing when we come back.

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by midnight on Sunday, March 19th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

 

Blog Post 7: TV Futures

Hi everyone,

This coming Monday is our last day thinking and talking about television — we’ve been talking here and there about the implications of streaming TV, and this class will give us the chance to look at it more closely and think it through more fully.

cord-cut-picSo let’s use this week’s blog to start doing that kind of work: you should first read the three articles for Monday (Poniewozik and Manjoo in the packet and Miriello online here), and then use your post to think about what seems most significant to you about streaming TV based on your reading. How does streaming alter concepts we’ve been talking about such as flow, complexity, or ideology? What does streaming do to time, to how we relate emotionally to TV, or to the role it plays in our social and political lives? You’re welcome to reflect on the significance of these readings and the issues they raise in any way that seems important to you, as long as you do so through some close examination of text from at least two of the three readings.

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by midnight on Sunday, March 5th. After Monday’s class and screening, you should return to this thread and post a response to one classmate’s post by class time Wednesday the 8th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

 

Blog Post 6: TV as Narrative and Culture

Hi everyone,

Nice job with some rich discussions of televisual structure this past week. On Monday we move into thinking about contemporary narrative forms on television, and how changes in the technology and structure of TV allow for new kinds of artistic creation and experimentation.

game-of-thrones-smallWe’ll consider Breaking Bad as an example of this kind of work together in our Monday screening, but for Monday’s class our goal is to start considering how the vocabulary of complexity helps us to think about television more critically and analytically, and how we might apply that vocabulary. So your post for this week should have two elements. First, you should work to explicate and engage a key passage from Mittell’s chapter: what are some of his key claims in the place you choose, what do they mean, and how do you respond — what seems important there and why? As in past weeks, you should focus on a meaty quotation of a few sentences here. Then apply that thinking to a show or series that strikes you as relevant to the issues you’re raising — obviously you can’t discuss the entirety of the series, so think of our discussions of film narrative and the short encapsulations Mittell gives as models for how to connect these materials.

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by midnight on Sunday, February 26th. After Monday’s class and screening, you should return to this thread and post a response to one classmate’s post by class time Wednesday, March 1st. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

 

Blog Post 5: TV as Social System

Hi everyone,

This coming week we move from the big screen to the small one in thinking about the social and artistic dimensions of television as a mass medium. We’ll start Monday with the two chapters in the packet by Raymond Williams, one of the key social theorists of television (also make sure to listen to “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” by Gil Scott-Heron in the class playlist).

static-tvOnce you’ve read the material by Williams, spend some time (at least an hour) watching primetime TV and reflecting on how it illustrates the concepts and issues he discusses. Then for this week’s blog you should post some thoughts connecting the two: what seem to be the most significant ideas about television in Williams’ argument — where do they appear in the text, and what’s significant about them? And how do those ideas play out in the television you watch — what workings of TV do you see that illustrate, complicate, contradict, or otherwise relate to what strikes you as important in Williams’ thinking? You’re free to pursue these connections in whatever way seems significant and interesting to you, as long as you ground your thinking in some quotation and close analysis of Williams’ writing to set up your analysis of television content.

Have a good weekend, and happy watching!

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by midnight on Sunday, February 19th. After Monday’s class and screening, you should return to this thread and post a response to one classmate’s post by class time Wednesday the 22nd. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

Blog Post 4: Gender, the Body, and the Gaze

Hi everyone,

Thanks for a great discussion on Blade Runner last class. Next week we turn our attention to a different set of issues within the cultural politics of film form and narrative, namely the question of how visuality relates to power dynamics around gender. Our first text on these issues is Laura Mulvey’s 1975 essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” one of the landmark texts in film studies and particularly in feminist film theory.

Although it’s fairly short, Mulvey’s essay is also dense and challenging, so part of our work with it will be to move towards a close, in-depth understanding of the complexities of what she’s talking about and trying to do in her writing. To that end, this week’s blog post is a little more tightly focused than some weeks so far: in your post, you should focus on one specific passage in Mulvey’s essay that seems particularly significant to you. It should be more than just a single phrase but less than a paragraph — the kind of nice, meaty claim you might quote and analyze in a paper. You should set that passage up in your writing, and quote it and paraphrase or explain it in your own words. Then spend some time thinking that passage through: what’s significant about it, and why? What issues is Mulvey raising here, and what do you make of them? What values and/or problems do you see in what she’s claiming in the section you’ve quoted?

Part of our goal here should be breadth as well as depth in how we engage with this reading, so once you’ve read the essay, take a look through this blog thread before you post, and if someone has already posted on a passage you were thinking about, try to do something different — either think about another passage to write on, or try to add to, deepen, or complicate what they say rather than just repeating it in your own words.

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by midnight on Sunday, February 12th. After Monday’s class and screening, you should return to this thread and post a response to one classmate’s post by class time Wednesday the 15th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

Blog Post 3: Film Form, Film Narrative

Hi everyone,

Happy Groundhog Day — it seems an appropriate moment to turn our focus to film narrative. So next week, we’ll move from thinking about how film works as a flow of giphy-facebook_simages to how film tells stories. Our blog for Monday’s class gives you a chance to think about how some key elements of film narrative work and what effects they have.

For this post, after reading the chapter by Bordwell and Thompson on “Narrative Form,” you should do a few things in your post: focus in on one concept or area of their thinking that seems most significant to you and explain it in your own terms: what does that concept mean? How does it play into film narrative? What’s significant about that role?

Then you should apply that concept to a film of your choice in a short analytical discussion — show us what role your chosen concept plays in making your film work the way it does. Think of the examples Bordwell and Thompson use in their writing as a model for how to do this (although you should pick a film of your own choosing rather than repeating one of theirs).

I’m interested to see what everyone comes up with — have a good weekend and happy writing!

PS: Happy Groundhog Day!

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by midnight on Sunday, February 5th. After Monday’s class and screening, you should return to this thread and post a response to one classmate’s post by class time Wednesday the 1st. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

PS: Happy Groundhog Day!

Blog Post 2: Film Form, Film Politics

Hi everyone,

Hope you’ve all had a good first week back. Next week, we turn from Gunning and the issue of cinematic images and seeing to some more specific questions of how film works in formal terms and what social and political possibilities that might create — we’ll be getting our heads around different kinds of cinematic shots and cuts, as well as what it’s possible to say and do with those shots and cuts. So our blog post for Monday has a few parts.

  • First, after you read the chapters by Corrigan and White and the short essay by Eisenstein in the packet, you should watch clips 9 and 10 on the YouTube playlist — these will give you a sense of how some of the terms and techniques used by Corrigan and White  work in action.
  • Then you should visit the website FilmGrab (an archive of film stills) and find the page for a film that you like or that interests you — you can use the links on top to search by film, director, year, etc. Scroll down the page for the film you choose and pick one shot that you find significant, then click on that shot to get the full-size version. Copy the URL from that shot into your post so that others can access it, and write a short analysis of it using concepts and terms from Corrigan and White — what kind of shot is this? What kinds of angle, camera distance, depth of field, etc., are in play here, and how do they help to shape the meaning of that shot? Keep in mind here that your analysis should focus on the specific formal traits of the shot rather than anything you know about the plot or characters in the film. We’ll spend some time in class Monday looking at and discussing some of these examples.
  • You should also include in your post some analysis of the Eisenstein essay — what larger claims is he making about montage, and what seems important about those? What’s the significance of how he describes montage — think of the specific language and metaphors he uses. Does the philosophy of montage he describes seem similar to or different from how you imagine and understand film? Make sure in this piece of your post to quote and respond to the language of his essay directly.

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by midnight on Sunday, January 29th. After Monday’s class and screening, you should return to this thread and post a response to one classmate’s post by class time Wednesday the 1st. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

 

Blog Post 1: Astonishments and Attractions

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the class blog for Media and Film Studies 220! I’m looking forward to a great semester exploring our course material with all of you. We’ll do a lot of interesting things with this blog, but for now, just take a moment to get set up with the blog, introduce yourself, and post some initial thoughts about our first set of readings:

  • First, subscribe to the blog using the form on the front page: enter your email address and click subscribe. You should receive an email with a link that you need to click in order to activate your subscription.
  • Then click on the comments link for this post and leave a message in the field that appears — use this as a chance to say hello and tell us a little bit about yourself, but you should also do some writing and thinking about our first set of material — the short films we watched Monday night and the two articles by Gunning we’ll talk about on Wednesday. What concepts and issues in Gunning’s writing seem most important to you, and why — what do they show us about early film, and about media more broadly? How do the films we watched illustrate some of those issues — where and how do you see them coming up in the films? Taken altogether, what do these show us about interpreting media? You’re free to critically engage this material in whatever way seems important to you, as long as you ground your discussion in some close analysis and citation of Gunning’s writing.

Don’t forget to include your full name in the appropriate box as well so that everyone knows who’s who and I can give you credit for your work. If it’s your first time posting on a WordPress blog, I may have to approve your post manually, so it might not show up immediately when you post it, but don’t worry — it will be there soon enough!

Good luck — let me know if you run into any trouble. See you in class Wednesday!

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by midnight on Tuesday, January 24th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.