Robin R Oppenheimer
Examines a variety of issues involved in understanding different forms of media and their impact on our lives, in contexts spanning from local to global, using a wide range of theoretical, disciplinary, and methodological approaches.
Fall 2013: Documentary Forms: From Nanook to YouTube The documentary forms of cinema encompass the histories of film (silent and sound) and video as both communication technologies and moving image media that tell stories about real people, places and events. This course will explore those multiple, intertwined histories with an eye toward how more recent digital technologies are influencing how “true” stories can now be told. We will read about and discuss the cultural contexts for documentaries, along with the theoretical questions they raise, including the blurry line between fiction and nonfiction and the problematic ideals of “truth” and “objectivity.” Representative documentaries from a range of styles and forms will be viewed and analyzed through class discussions based on readings as well as student writings and presentations.
Student learning goals
Learn and practice communication skills, including critical reading and written/online/visual/oral presentation.
Learn the technological and political/economic/social histories, diverse forms, and cultural contexts for viewing and producing nonfiction media known as documentaries.
Learn and practice information literacy skills, including how to identify, access, interpret, evaluate, and create information.
Learn and practice media literacy skills, including how media are constructed, interpreted, and critiqued.
General method of instruction
Viewing films and lecture/presentations; class discussions; some group work
Class assignments and grading
Quizzes, essays, readings and class discussions
Quizzes (65%); essay (25%); class participation (10%)