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Visual Arts and Film Studies

Visual Arts and Film Studies
Project description
• The journal writing that students are asked to do is, perhaps, more formal than usual for a journal. The assignment of the journal is designed to promote critical thinking about and thoughtful exploration of the subject matter for the class, which in this case is Silent Era Cinema. As such, the main function of the journal is as a reading and subject/content journal. The weekly journals are places where course readings and course subject matter meet and are explored through commentary about the readings and screening. The commentary can range from that which integrates the readings and screenings through discussion of how the readings enable a certain understanding of the films or discussion of how and what the screenings communicate, given the ways in which the readings inform about the cinema and era. The journals are also spaces of self-reflection with regard to students’ engagements with the form of silent cinema—a form that, to some, is not familiar, and to some is difficult to engage and enter into as easily as contemporary cinema. In this instance, the journals provide the spaces for students to communicate the pleasures or difficulties (as well as convey the reasons for the pleasures or difficulties) in viewing silent cinema. Furthermore, the journals are spaces where students can and should generate and explore topics and questions for discussion in class.
Some dos and don’ts: Weekly journals should refer to all the clips, shorts and features screened for the week that the journal covers. This is not the case for the readings. I suggest that you use readings that most provoke, inform, guide or interest. All screenings (clips, shorts, features) should be referenced by the titles of the films. We will see a lot of shorts and clips throughout the four-week session. It will, at times, be difficult during class to keep up with the titles. For titles and additional summary discussion of the films, students should refer to “Program Notes” (see Appendix III for details). In the journals, films can be grouped together (for example, “The Edison films screened this week,. . .” or “This week we also screened a group of avant-garde films. . .”), but please list the films by their titles. References like “the film about the dog. . .” or “the film that had the two little girls in it. . .” will not do and will lower your journal grade for that week.
The length of the journals depends on students’ writing styles and how elaborately or concisely points are conveyed. I do suggest that they not be less than three pages given that the entries will often cover up to ten shorts and two or more features for the week. These are journals, not argumentative essays; however, students should clearly and cogently, through example and elaboration, convey their points of discussion and commentary. For example, it is not enough to say, “I really enjoyed The Great Train Robbery,” without elaborating why or explaining what was expected or why the film was not expected to be enjoyed.
Journals will be graded on the depth of discussion (in other words, move beyond commentary like, “It was boring;” “This was the most amazing film that I have ever seen;” or “This is the best film we’ve seen so far in the class.”); on the use of readings and in-class discussions in the commentary about the films; on the use of the journal itself in the exploration of themes and development of questions for discussion and participation in class; and on the overall engagement with silent cinema as it is demonstrated through the writing in the journal.
Week VI: Silent Era Stardom, Continued; and What We Haven’t Discussed, Part I
Journal II due by 6:00 pm on Friday, February 14, 2014
February 10, 2014: Clara Bow and Louise Brooks
Reading: Higashi, Sumiko, “The New Woman and Consumer Culture”
Gaylyn Stular, “The Perils of Pauline: Fan Magazine Discourse as Women’s Commodified Culture in the 1920s”
Catherine Russell, “New Women of the Silent Screen”
Suggested Readings: Gordon Thomas, “Of Sexual Hate and Lonely Death: On Pandora’s Box”

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