UC Berkeley Department of Film and Media

Department of Film & Media UC Berkeley

Courses / Undergraduate

Fall 2017

R1A - 002 | CCN: 14671

The Craft of Writing - Makin’ Copies: Replication and Repetition in Global Visual Culture

Jennifer Blaylock & Kaitlin Forcier

4 Units

The central goal of this class will be to explore the themes of copying and repetition in visual culture as a means to develop and practice the skills of effective writing. The ease of making copies today (copying is just two clicks away) seems to threaten long celebrated American ideals like individuality and innovation. Headlines that offer examples of American public figures caught plagiarizing from opponent’s speeches or lifting language from Wikipedia demonstrate the trouble copying can cause. But copying is also quite popular and incredibly lucrative. From pop music remixes to Hollywood superhero remakes, so much of global popular culture relies on copying. In this course we will ask: what are the values associated with copies? What impact does repetitive replication have on the meaning of the original material? How might the copy be a powerful social tool to critique the status quo?

To understand the different approaches to copying in global visual culture we will study two concepts at the center of copying: replication and repetition. We will examine a variety of visual media from social media (memes, reposting) to film and television remakes, and address key themes related to replication and repetition, from photography itself as a “replica” of the real world, to repeat viewing with the rise of home video and the Internet, to repetition as a fundamental structure of computer programming.

Along with short weekly writing exercises designed to help you generate new thought and practice your writing skills, in this class you will be asked to complete two formal writing projects. In the first writing project you will analyze a film sequence. The purpose of this project will be to practice noticing the elements of film art (mise-en-scène, composition, editing, and sound) in order to articulate how film means. For your second longer writing project you will use the close-reading skills that you develop in your first project to put your ideas in dialogue with multiple texts. Since this is an introduction to college writing course, our collective work reading, watching, and questioning ideas of “the copy” will give you the tools to become strong critical thinkers and will also provide the groundwork for developing well-formed and persuasive written arguments. Expect to find in this class the critical exchange of ideas, rigorous and fun debate, and generous feedback, all in the pursuit of discovering and pushing the limits of our collective knowledge.