Courses / Undergraduate

Spring 2021

  • The Craft of Writing – Film Focus / Stardom, Spectatorship, and Difference

    R1A - 005 | CCN: 31226 | 31231

    Dolores McElroy

    4 Units

    *This course will be taught via Remote-Synchronous instruction.

    Lecture: TuTh 3:30-5pm; Screening: W 6-8pm

    This class is designed to introduce students to college-level academic writing in the humanities. The primary goal is to develop the core skills and techniques necessary for writing excellent analytical essays, rooted in close readings of moving image and other visual media, and written texts. This is a rigorous writing course that focuses on writing and revision, and is firmly grounded in the idea that writing is a thinking process.

    Broadly, this class interrogates the relationships between stars and their social contexts. Questions we will consider include: How is a film performance different from a live, theatrical performance? What does it mean to be looked at? What does it mean to present an “image” of oneself? How can that “image” be read onscreen and through other texts (both written and visual), and how is it understood and appropriated by others? How do the phenomena of “reality TV” and social media change our experiences of stardom?

    The class will engage a wide range of critical texts that focus on the history of the “art of personality” with a particular emphasis on the history of film stardom, including how stars circulate in society, how spectators respond to representations of stardom, how forms of social difference (women generally, viewers of color, LGBTQIA+ viewers, etc.) inform this spectatorship, and how the phenomenon of stardom has changed (and remained the same) from the 19th century to the digital era. 

    Students will learn to analyze the moving image media in which stars appear (i.e. students will be given the tools and vocabulary to “read” cinematic sequences), and will also learn to analyze star images at an intertextual level, which includes not only moving image appearances, but print and online publicity, and other elements of self-presentation, such as fashion, makeup, and portraiture (including Instagram pics).