The Craft of Writing – Film Focus / False Pretenses: Mockumentary, Documentary, and the Critique of Authenticity
R1A-002 | CCN: 25406
Tu/Th 9:30am-11:00am, Cory 241; Screening Tues. 6:00pm-9:00pm, Barrows 155///
How can we tell when we watch a mockumentary? What makes a mockumentary different from a documentary? The mockumentary effect works by mobilizing the formal conventions of non-fiction visual media in order to tell a fictional story. In this course, we will explore how the relationship between documentary and mockumentary prompts us to question the distinction between fiction and non-fiction. With varying degrees of visibility, and to different effects, fictional elements have always been present in both genres. We will locate the ever-decreasing distance between mockumentary and documentary within their common project of redefining the categories of ‘truth’ and ‘authenticity,’ which puts pressure on the relevance of genre distinction. Through close analysis of cinematic, televisual and new media texts, we will analyze how, coming from different directions, both mockumentary and documentary meet in the ways that they play with our expectations, and perform social, cultural and political critique.
This course introduces students to college-level analytical writing, reading, and viewing. You will acquire the skill of writing persuasive arguments grounded in substantive readings of nuanced evidence. You will learn to identify formal characteristics of audiovisual and new media texts, analyze the effects these techniques might have on the viewer, and form interpretative, critical arguments stemming from the relationships between these elements.