Courses / Undergraduate

Fall 2019

  • The Craft of Writing – Film Focus / Stardom & Spectatorship

    R1B-002 | CCN: 31564

    Dolores McElroy

    4 Units

    Tu/Th 9:30am-11:00am, Wheeler 130; Screening Wed. 11:00am-1:00pm, Dwinelle 229 ///

    This class is designed to introduce students to college-level academic writing in the humanities with an emphasis on research. The primary goal is to develop the core skills and techniques necessary for writing excellent analytical essays, grounded 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: 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, black viewers, LGBTQIA+ viewers, etc.) inform this spectatorship, and how the phenomenon of stardom has changed (and remained the same) from the 19thcentury 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). The course will also train students to write strong research papers by introducing them to UC Berkeley’s library holdings and online resources. Students will learn to identify useful sources, and how to put those sources in dialogue with one another to craft compelling arguments.