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.
Spring 2014: 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 research, writings, and presentations. This course is part of the IAS Media and Communications Studies Program.
Student learning goals
Learn and practice communication skills, including critical reading and written/online/visual/oral presentation.
Learn how and why documentaries are created and the economic and political aspects of producing independent media.
Learn about the evolution of documentary forms from the beginning of film history to today's participatory media culture.
Learn and practice media literacy skills, including how media are constructed, interpreted, and critiqued.
General method of instruction
Lecture/presentations; class discussions; some group work
Class assignments and grading
Quizzes, essays, readings and class discussions