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Sociology Through Film_spring10

Sociology Through Film_spring10

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Sociology Through Film
 The University of Akron, Spring 2010Olin Hall 113, Tuesdays 7:10-9:40
Instructor: Jodi A. Ross, M.A.
Olin Hall 247Djodi.ross@yahoo.com(330) 972-8827 
Course Description
 This course is designed to help students develop their sociological imagination through theviewing, discussion and analysis of popular films. This course is
not 
about analyzing filmper se. For example, while we will consider the context of the production of some films, wewill not discuss technical aspects of film-making or the caliber of individual performances.Instead, we will be using the intellectual tools of sociology to explore various aspects of thesocial world as they are (re)presented by filmmakers and movie studios. In so doing we willexamine a variety of popular films genres to refine your ability to understand and applysociology to your everyday world.
Specific Learning Objectives:
Appreciate the “promise” of the sociological imagination.
Recognize the value of popular film as a cultural product.
Understand basic sociological concepts related to the substantive areas in thesyllabus
Apply critical thinking skills to analyze films and produce an argument regarding thesociological elements of importance.
Develop and refine written and oral communication skills.
Required Reading:
Sutherland, J.A. and Feltey, K. (2010).
Cinematic Sociology: Social Life in Film.
  Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.(Additional readings will be made available on our Springboard site.)
Instructor Note:
 The film list for this class is not meant to be read as a “best-of” list (either generallyspeaking or as they relate to particular substantive areas). The films selected for viewinginclude both mainstream and independent productions. I have tried to include a variety of genres including dramas, comedies, science fiction, foreign films, children’s films, andbased-in-fact films. I chose some films and ignored others based on their length in order tobest meet the needs of our time-delimited class format. We also will not deal withdocumentary films at all in this course. You should keep in mind that we will watch/read/discuss material that may include explicitlanguage and/or explore sensitive or controversial topics. At times, these materials, issues,and our discussions may make you uncomfortable. It is importantthat you allow the material to challenge you in order to move toward new knowledge. That
 
does not mean you have to agree with everything we watch/read/discuss but you areexpected to show respect to each person in our class. Inappropriate or derogatorylanguage or behavior will not be tolerated if directed at other students or their beliefs. Mygoal is to provide an environment where critical but constructive dialogue and analysis of these very important issues can take place in a comfortable and civilized manner.
How to Succeed in this Course
I am neither an entertainer, nor a magician. I cannot teach you what you are not preparedor willing to learn. I will do my best to keep you engaged in the material, but it is yourresponsibility to become a part of this class. The following are some basic tips which willhelp you succeed in this course:
1. Attend class regularly.
Although I realize you may have seen some of the films wewill be viewing, I expect that you attend each class. We only meet once a week and soattendance is VERY important. I do not lend out my copies of films. Most are available atthe public library. I also will not provide any type of notes if you miss a class.Do
NOT
ask me “Did I miss anything?” Of course you did. Get a buddy in the classand ask that person the question. If they tell you that you didn’t miss anything, getanother buddy!
2. Pay Careful Attention to the Films.
It will come as no surprise to me that some of you signed up thinking “how hard could watching movies be?”. The truth is that it isn’thard to watch movies purely for pleasure. Watching films for substantive content andfurther analysis is a much different task. Do not be lulled into passively watching. Youshould be carefully thinking and taking notes during the film.
3. Prepare for class appropriately.
Read all of the required reading for each classbefore class. This will allow you to actively participate in discussions. This is a 3 credit, junior-level (300) course. As a general rule you should be prepared to spend
at least 
6hours outside of class each week doing your readings, studying, preparing assignments. This is the equivalent of 2 hours for every hour inside class and is a
bare minimum
expectation.
4. Take notes on the readings.
Students who take clear and concise notes on eachreading not only retain and process more of the information, but also have a head-start oncreating study materials. On occasion I will let you refer to your text during a quiz. I canassure you that this will only be beneficial to you if you have read the material.
5. Hand in your written assignments on time.
Start early, write multiple drafts, andhand in quality work on time. Make use of the services of the Writing Center in BierceLibrary to assist you in your work.
6. See me if you are having any difficulty with the material.
We can talk through anyproblems or issues. Do not wait until the end of the semester to come talk about “what canI do so I don’t flunk your course”. That is too late (and the answer is probably, “nothing”).
7. Take advantage of any extra credit opportunities.
Extra credit may be offeredthroughout the semester at my discretion. These opportunities are offered to the entireclass and will not be available on an individual basis to those students desiring to improvetheir grade at the last minute. After all, if you can’t manage to keep up with the class andits requirements during the bulk of the term, it wouldn’t make sense for me to give you“extra” work at the end of the term.
 
EVALUATION AND GRADINGFilm Biography Paper
 You will write a 3-5 page paper detailing your personal relationship to film. See page vii-ixof the Preface to your textbook for examples and ideas for getting started. We will talkabout this more during class. This assignment is worth 50 points.
Quizzes
It is imperative that you do your reading to be able to thoughtfully and appropriatelyparticipate in class. I have found that using quizzes throughout the semester stronglyencourages students to keep up with their reading. The quizzes in this class will includematerial from the text and the films we watch. Questions will be short answer/essayformat. I may ask you to apply the material from the text to a specific film, or I may requirethat you compare and/or contrast several films or I may ask comprehension questions fromthe readings in the textbook. Some quizzes may be take-home (to be posted onSpringboard Dropbox) and others will be in-class. Each will be worth 40 points for a total of 200.
Application and Reaction Jo urnal 
Each student will keep a class journal with a minimum of one entry per week. Entriesshould include reaction to films/ discussion from class (including points you may not haveraised in class), connections to specific points in the readings and/or connections to otherfilms and sociologically relevant insights. These entries should be typed on Springboard . They will be checked twice during the semester. These are your opportunity to practiceyour analysis skills and work out concepts, applications and arguments we didn’t get to inclass. Your journal will count for 50 points towards your final grade.
Film Analysis Paper (including Choice of Film, Topic and References Assignment)
 Your final assignment will be to produce a film analysis on a film we have NOT watched inclass. You may not choose a film analyzed at length in your textbook. You may use theextensive list of films in the back of your book or you may choose another film. You will berequired to relate your film to a specific topic (e.g., deviance, aging, health, friendship, war,violence, education). You will also be required to find at least two outside references tohelp shape your arguments in the paper. I will provide more details in class. Thisassignment is worth 120 points or 24% of your grade. All the work we do throughout thesemester, including especially your careful reading of the text will prepare you for thisassignment.
Participation & Attendance
A portion of your grade is allotted for participation and attendance. I consider participationto be
thoughtful
and
appropriate
contributions to class discussions. Negative participationincludes interruptions, inappropriate conduct and talking to your neighbor(s). Please notethat this component of evaluation is not purely quantitative but instead involves mydiscretion as to your role in the course. That is, you do not simply get points countedtoward your grade for occupying a seat in the classroom, nor do you necessarily havepoints subtracted if you fail to come to class. With this in mind, if you should find yourself too tired to stay awake in class, you should plan to stay home in bed. You should consultthe section of the syllabus “how to succeed in this course” for additional tips. Thiscomponent of your grade will count for 50 points towards the final grade.
Evaluation ComponentPoints AvailablePercentage oGrade
Film Biography Paper50 10%Quizzes5 @ 40 = 20040% Journal5010%Film, Topic, References306%

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