About the Course

“Each art breeds its fanatics. The love that cinema inspired, however, was special. It was born of the conviction that cinema was an art unlike any other: quintessentially modern; distinctively accessible; poetic and mysterious and erotic and moral — all at the same time.”
— “The Decay of Cinema,” Susan Sontag (February 1996)

This course is motivated by the very love that Sontag describes in her premature eulogy for the quintessentially modern art of the twentieth century, cinema. And while she believed cinema as well as film criticism was already dying by the late 1990s, YouTube vloggers, video remixers, iTunes podcasts as well as a number of new media outlets have seen film criticism explode these past few years. This course focuses on the relatively new genre of the “video essay” which uses multimedia tools to create a moving image argument about films both old and new. There are a variety of different forms the video essay takes: the supercut, the videographic essay, the desktop documentary, the scene study, etc.. We will spend the first third of the course exploring what creating a video essay entails (both critically and logistically); the second third doing some hands-on group work (honing the tech tools needed) and the last third of semester creating your very own video essay. Questions of the possibilities, advantages and drawbacks of composing in multimedia forms will be at the center of the course.

Writing will be at the center of our work this semester, and writing assignments will vary in length, formality, and medium. Shorter assignments will likely include reading responses posted to our course WordPress site, and workshop-plans for the larger project. For your final project you will complete a critical analysis of a film (or films) of your choosing, modeled and informed by class discussions and readings. You will be required to present this video essay project in a WordPress site of your design that exemplifies your own concept of “cinema appreciation in the 21st century.” Attendance, participation, regular blog posts, and a sense of experimentation will be required.

Note: No specialized technological expertise required for this course.

Course Goal:

Connecting students to the creative and experimental potential of digital technology platforms.

Providing students with a conceptually challenging discursive space to engage with different forms of digital media in a productive manner.

Generate a collaborative learning/working environment where students develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be a media consumer/producer in the 21st century.

To provide students the ability to write persuasively and precisely, in scholarly and, optionally, creative forms.

SAS Common Core Curriculum Goal:

Students will engage critically in the process of creative expression.

Employ current technologies to access information, to conduct research, and to communicate findings.

You can find the full syllabus here.