The Craft of Writing – Film Focus
R1B 003 | CCN: 31234
Derek Price, Lisa Wells Jacobson
Date and Time: TU, TH 12:30pm - 1:59pm
Film is famously built on an optical illusion: a series of still images quickly flit by, engaging your brain to fill in the gaps before you even perceive them. It’s the same trick as the flipbooks you may have played with as a child, and, indeed, these kinds of toys for merging drawings to create seemingly seamless motion laid the foundation for the birth of film at the end of the 19th century. Many film theorists have been preoccupied with film’s ability to record and reproduce an “objective” reality — but in this course, we ask what other kinds of worlds moving image media can be used to construct, and to what ends. We turn our focus to animation in a broad sense of the word, from comics, cartoons, and stop motion to video games and digital renderings. What can these meticulously crafted worlds illustrate to us about our own reality, and what else do they have to offer beyond what we see around us? Through weekly readings and selected film and television screenings, we will explore specific types and techniques of animation, as well as larger theoretical questions about cross-media adaptation, labor and technology, and constructions of childhood. Screenings include Cinderella, Ghost in the Shell, Coraline, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. We will consider what new perspectives the journeys we take together into the “crafted” worlds of animation might give us on existing socio-political and technocultural systems of power.
At the same time, this is first and foremost a writing course. The “crafted” worlds we investigate together will be a means for you to hone your own interrelated crafts of reading, watching, analyzing, researching, and writing. Together we will practice writing both inside and outside of our virtual classroom, with many shorter assignments building toward longer writing and research projects. We see writing not a finished product, but as an ongoing collaborative process of learning and revising. By the end of the course, you should be able to identify various cinematic techniques and analyze their roles within a film; draw connections among films and readings; conduct relevant research; create your own original arguments that address the larger questions of the course; and strengthen your writing by incorporating feedback from your classmates and instructors. This will help prepare you not only for writing in Film & Media and across the humanities, but also for critically engaging with the media you encounter every day.