Courses / Undergraduate

Fall 2018

  • The Craft of Writing: Journeys Through the 4th Dimension: Cinema, New Media, Temporality

    R1A-003 | CCN: 26005

    Jessica Ruffin & Alexandra Bush

    4 Units

    M/W 5:00-6:30 PM, Dwinelle 229; M 6:30-9:30 PM Screening, Dwinelle 229 What time is it now? Perhaps you’ve just glanced at your phone, a clock on the wall, a watch, the sun – or even whispered to the person sitting next to you. All of these are media, means towards understanding and experiencing something that seems so concrete, so immediate: time. Yet, time is not immediate, not a constant. The now that I originally typed sometime around 2:40 pm on June 4, 2018 is not the now you just read a few moments ago nor the now of well, now. On the other hand, anyone who has ever fallen from a great height or witnessed an accident or sat through a boring class knows that our subjective relation to time – temporality – is not constant; it speeds up, slows down, disintegrates in our memories. Building from the ground that temporality is always mediated not only through our consciousness but also through what we experience, this course explores how moving image and new media have and continue to manipulate, contribute to and complicate our experiences and conceptions of time.

    Do moving image media and new media (such as Facebook, Instagram, internet browsers, Google Maps) afford specific and unique temporalities, opening up previously impossible journeys through time, the fourth dimension? In this course, we begin to investigate this question with the advent of cinema, seeking to understand how early filmmakers sought to replicate a linear and progressive relation to time and narrative even as film theorists and experimenters began to see cinema as a medium for creating wholly new modes of seeing. Time came to be reversed, sped up, slowed down, condensed, layered and even erased. While these temporal manipulations may take place on the level of narrative, they may also affect our relations to our environments, with time-lapse allowing us to see not only the growth and death of a flower but also melting glaciers and rushing cities. Equally, while feeds on Facebook and Instagram seem to keep us in an ever-marching present of updates – What are you doing now? – they also archive a history that may be reviewed and remixed, algorithmically or by own our scrolls and clicks. What are the stakes of these capacities to remix and journey through time? Do they open us to the past and possible futures or stir up a chaos of time and space, impossible to settle in a singular moment, a now from which to act?

    Throughout this course, we will explore these questions and others through close reading and analysis of cinema (narrative, experimental, scientific), new media platforms, media theories and philosophies of perception and aesthetics. Just as early film theorists and philosophers sought to imagine how cinema might newly open up the fourth dimension, will we ask these questions in relation to new media, historical and contemporary cinematic works – through composing blog posts, mini-presentations, short essays and video projects. By the conclusion of this course, you will be able to analyze and critically engage moving image and new media, in addition to writing clearly and effectively about the place of these media in how we imagine and experience the fourth dimension.