UC Berkeley Department of Film and Media

Department of Film & Media UC Berkeley

Courses / Undergraduate

Summer 2017

R1A - 001 | Session A | CCN: 15001

The Craft of Writing: Recording the Un-recorded: Folklore, Movie Monstrosities, and Global Community

Katherine Guerra

4 Units

Humans have been sharing stories and passing down oral and written legends and tales since they began coming together in societies. Legends, folk tales, and monster stories all predate the written word. Our goal is to interrogate why almost every people on earth has some history of perpetuating culturally specific tales of the fantastic and fearsome. Do they make life lessons easier to digest? Glorify a shared and distant past? Outline the ideals which are held up as exemplary and exceptional in a given culture? What is immortalized in the act of “telling” in a given story and what is left “unsaid?” How are local and national traumas coded and given expression through folk tales?

We will spend our time teasing out the implications of the kinds of storytelling introduced in class, from ancient Scandinavian tales of oral legends to contemporary American urban legends, as well as examples of lore and storytelling in contemporary horror and fantasy films. We’ll conclude by considering whether there is “space” left for folk culture in a global moment/world. Might “New Media” bridge the gap between how scholars have traditionally conceived of what constitutes “folk culture?” Can the current new media moment blur the boundaries between institutional limitations to access and open traditional culture?

On a formal level, we will endeavor to develop our analytical writing skills at the college level, with a special concentration on writing the research paper. We will employ methods as diverse as individual summary reactions to take home free writes, to peer reviews to improve our writing skills while delving deep into the world of “stories” and legends to achieve a sophisticated understanding of the human desire to tell the tale.

A Note Regarding Course Content…
We will be watching films that can sometimes contain very disturbing content, difficult themes and imagery. All students are required to interact with every part of each of these films and no one will be excused from viewing/discussing/confronting any film covered in this course. If enrolling in this course, please prepare yourself to confront potentially disturbing subject matter as a part of our discussions and screening. I’m sure you’ll find the effort very rewarding within the context of this course.