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Fall Semester 2021

• This 3-credit course fulfills an upper-level COM elective
COM 382
Aimée Knight, PhD • Course is open to all SJU students, no prerequisite • Fulfills GEP Writing Intensive Overlay

Class Meetings Fall 2021

TBD Course Description

This hands-on course is for those interested in looking deeper into documentary storytelling
Study Tour
while exploring some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, mountains, and glaciers in the
We will travel during country of New Zealand. Students in this course will write, create, and edit a short non-fiction
Intercession 2022 from late documentary. At the end of the course, students will have a documentary video project ready
December to early January to submit to an online publication such as Fathom, Afar, Matador Network, or The Expeditioner.
No documentary experience necessary, just a willingness to delve into the technical aspects of
documentary storytelling.
*Exact travel dates will be
determined Travel late December 2021 - early January 2022
Our time in New Zealand will be spent taking photographs and recording video to accompany
the documentary stories we will create in class during Fall 2021. Once on the ground in New
See page 6 for itinerary
Zealand (January 2022) we will be filming our scripts with an action-packed agenda of
stunning locations. During our time in New Zealand’s South Island we will practice
astrophotography at two Dark Sky Reserve locations, explore the Southern Alps, take a Lord of
the Rings Middle Earth tour, practice time-lapse photography at Lake Tekapo, hike Aoraki Mt
Cook and its glaciers, visit Lake Wanaka, trek in Fiorland National Park, a UNESCO heritage site,
and cruise the fjords of Milford Sound. Our final stop, Queenstown, is known as the
adventure capital of the world.
Required Reading

Course Goals and Objectives

• Students will learn invention strategies, consider and apply diverse structural options, and
reflect on stylistic choices in developing a short creative nonfiction documentary;

• Through analyzing texts (and films) and practicing their own writing, students will improve
Bernard, Sheila Curran.
their creative nonfiction writing skills;
Documentary Storytelling:
Creative Nonfiction on • Through classroom instruction and feedback on their work, students will learn the writing
Screen. 2016.
conventions of documentary nonfiction;

• Through participating in the drafting process, students will learn the techniques of effective
revision (each individual script goes through four stages of revision).

• By practicing the above objectives, students will write and record a compelling creative
nonfiction script.
Hart, Jack. Storycraft: The • Our time in New Zealand will be spent taking photographs and recording video to
Complete Guide to accompany our documentary stories.
Writing Narrative
Nonfiction. University of
Chicago Press, 2011.
30% Reading/Viewing Journal

These informal reading/viewing responses demonstrate your engagement with the ideas in
the assigned course material (both text and video). Use vocabulary, concepts, and ideas from
the week’s reading/viewing material and any additional course material to link theory with
practice. The entries are contemplative in nature and demonstrate your engagement with the
Hueth, Alan Craig.
ideas in the assigned weekly course material, class discussions, and learning activities. An
Scriptwriting for Film,
Television and New Media. effective entry demonstrates that you have thoroughly read and understood the material (or
Routledge, 2019.
that you ask and attempt to answer compelling questions that reveal careful reading). The
entry will develop connections between the material and the themes of the course and
demonstrate that you have considered the implications of the materials. Please note that this
is not a summary of your reading, but an exploration of the week’s materials, themes,
questions, or ideas. Although these are not formal academic papers, they should be carefully
written and cited nevertheless. Incorporate direct quotes from the readings that support your
integration of the material. Be specific about the works you’re discussing, give details to back
Lunsford, Andrea A., et al. up any assertions you may make, include references, page numbers, and in-text MLA citations.
EasyWriter. 2019.
Commenting and assessment of journal entries is ongoing throughout the semester. 15
entries at approximately 200-300 words each.

40% Nonfiction Script

Every film, fiction or documentary, tells a story. The story and its structure are often what make
the difference between a good script and an average one and it is important for any
scriptwriter to study them thoroughly. Through classroom instruction and feedback on our
work, students will learn the writing conventions of nonfiction documentary storytelling. We
will spend much of our time in class workshopping our stories through the lens of three
broad structural parts: Part 1) the beginning, Part 2) the middle, and the Part 3) the end.

1. The importance of a good beginning cannot be stressed enough. The beginning sets the
audience up for all the events about to occur in the film. It sets the tone and mood for the
film and hints at surprises that lie ahead by raising the right questions in the minds of
the audience. In documentary, the beginning always addresses the issue at hand and
introduces the subject to the audience.

2. The key to a good middle is structure. The scriptwriter must ensure that the middle of the
film presents a chain of logic designed to prove its core assertion. Each event and action
must be pertinent and in keeping with the subject and tone of the film. These sequences
must be related to each other and unified as a whole in order to give the film a flow.

3. In the words of Aristotle, an ending must be both ‘inevitable’ and ‘unexpected.’ The end
of a film is what the audience takes home with them. It is the primary factor that
determines audience opinion about the film they’ve just seen. The end is when the film
concludes with a resolution, usually a reiteration of the core assertion of the film.

*Parts 1, 2, and 3, will each be workshopped in an in-class peer-review session. Instructor

feedback with guidelines for improvement will also be given. 1-3 revisions are due one week
after each peer-review workshop. Final script revisions are due on Week 13.

30% Visual and Audio Documentary

In New Zealand, we will be capturing the visual elements of our films, or what the audience
‘sees’ on screen. A documentary, like any film, has limited time in which to convey a multitude
of things and to tell a story. Therefore, all the components within the film must be specific and
meaningful so as not to waste precious screen time. Each shot has an underlying ‘meaning’
depending on the nature and arrangement of objects and actions within it. A sequence is a
collection of shots put together that tell a story continuously. A sequence is an autonomous
piece of the larger story of the film. A scriptwriter has many choices to make when deciding
about the content, treatment and nature of sequences. Throughout our travels, we will be
practicing different kinds of shots to create our final production. The finished piece is due one
week after we return. *Each student writes and produces their own documentary.

Documentary Script Evaluation Rubric

Research & Knowledge Integration

100-90 Information used is accurate, authenticated and well-researched.
Connects ideas and synthesizes diverse perspectives to create something new
89-80 Information is adequately researched but needs improvement. Guidelines for Peer Review
Analyzes and applies learning; critically examines ideas, concepts from course material
79-70 Information is unsatisfactorily researched and authenticated. 1. Describe your goals for this
Comprehends and applies some learning from course (uses ideas to convey, express) project. What specifically is this
69-0 No apparent research of information; Comprehension is not satisfactorily piece trying to accomplish–above
demonstrated and beyond satisfying the
minimum requirements outlined
Narrative Elements (setting, characters, conflict, theme, plot, story arc) in the task description? In other
100-90 Script employs narrative elements to communicate a powerful sense of words, what communicative work
significance does, or might, this piece do? For
89-80 Script employs narrative elements to communicate a sense of significance whom? In what contexts?
79-70 Script employs narrative elements to communicate a vague sense of
69-0 Script unsuccessfully employs narrative elements 2. What rhetorical, material, and
methodological choices did you
Voice, Style, & Tone make in service of accomplishing
100-90 Powerful diction; fluid and unique style; instances of powerful language (e.g. the goal(s) articulated above?
parallelism, sentence variety and modulation); with appropriate spelling, grammar Catalog, as well, choices that you
and punctuation. might not have consciously
89-80 Appropriate diction, emerging style; sufficient control with clear spelling, made, those that were made for
grammar and punctuation. you when you opted to work with
79-70 Insufficient variety in sentence length and type; questionable word choice; certain genres, and materials.
wordiness; needs to revisit spelling and grammar Why did you end up pursuing
69-0 Sentences lack fluidity, depth, modulation, and variety; no apparent style; this plan as opposed to the others
inappropriate passive voice; careless slang, dialect, or cliché or exhibits questionable you came up with?

Creativity & Experimentation 3. What about this project still

100-90 Script creates a new idea or method that proves useful, timely, engaging needs development? What
89-80 Script re-conceptualizes; devises a new observation about a larger concept or specifically would you like to
idea change or develop further?
79-70 Script modifies or relates or extends a concept for a new situation
69-0 Script summarizes or routinely deploys tropes and generalizations

COM 382 Schedule Theme Readings Film to Analyze Due

Week 1 Introductory Meeting

Week 2 Story Narratives Bernard Ch. 3; Hart The Blind Photographers Journal due
Ch. 1 Club

Week 3 Structure & Organization Bernard Ch.4; Hart Coffee Farming in Rwanda Journal due
Ch. 2

Week 4 Pitching, & Research; Bernard Ch.8, 9, Anthony Bourdain: No Pitch due; Journal
Invention Strategies Hart Ch. 10 Reservations - NZ due

Week 5 Explanatory Narratives & Hart Ch. 11, 12, 13 A Night at the Garden Journal due; Part 1
Other Narratives; Part 1 Due; due; (bring 3 copies)
Peer- review #1
Week 6 Part 1 Revisions Due Bernard Ch.10 The Colourist Journal due; Part 1
revisions due
Week 7 Voice, Style; and Tone; Bernard Ch.13; Hart Audobon Society; Mark Journal due; Part 2
Narration and Voiceover; Ch. 4 Bradford due; (bring 3
Part 2 due; Peer-review #2 copies)

Week 8 Writing Workshop; Part 2 Amar Journal due; Part 2

Revisions due revisions due

Week 9 Writing Workshop; Part 3 Tashi and the Monk Journal due; Part 3
due; Peer- review #3; due; (bring 3

Week 10 Writing Workshop; Part 3 BBC Earth: Wild Australasia Journal due;
Revisions Due Part 3 revisions due

Week 11 Conference with Instructor Planet Earth Journal due

for further feedback and
script revision

Week 12 Shooting Workshop; Bernard Ch. 11 The Alps; Los Poblanos Storyboard due;
Storyboard due Journal due

Week 13 Editing Workshop; Bernard Ch. 12 More Than Me Journal due;

Final revisions due revisions due

Week 14 Audio Recording Workshop Bernard Ch.13; Hart Journal due

Ch. 4

Week 15 Credits & Citations for a Reading: Hart Ch. Journal due; Audio
Multimedia Production 14 Recording due

Intercession 2022 Final Projects due 1-

week after return

New Zealand Day by Day
Jan 2 & 3 Fly from Newark to Queenstown

Settle in for the long flight as we make our way over to the Southern Hemisphere.

Day 3 Arrive Queenstown

Overnight: Novotel Queenstown Lakeside or Rydges Lakeland Resort

Kia Ora! Our private coach will meet us at the airport in Queenstown and deliver us to our
hotel. Enjoy a free day in beautiful Queenstown as we adjust to the time change (+18 hours
into the future). Catch up on some zzz’s or explore the town center just a short walk from our
hotel. Recommendations include Steamer Wharf and the outdoor pedestrian mall with a
wide variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants. Make some time for a stop at the famous
Fergburger or Fergbaker. This evening, photograph the sunset over lake Wakatipu and the

Day 4 Queenstown Lake Tekapo
Overnight: Peppers Blue Water Resort

After a leisurely breakfast, we will board our private coach for a scenic drive to Lake Tekapo. Leaving
Queenstown we are treated to lakeside vistas framed by the rugged face of a magnificent mountain
range appropriately named The Remarkables.

Lord of the rings tour Lord of the Rings fans, this is your lucky day! On the way to Lake Tekapo we will pass through
the stunning scenery of Middle Earth. One Ring Tours will take us on a tour of all of the major
scenes filmed around Twizle. We will spend a couple hours learning about movie making,
from finding locations, setting up stunts, visual effects, and motion picture film techniques.

After our Lord of the Rings tour, we arrive in Tekapo. Surrounded by the spectacular landscape
of the Southern Alps, the breathtakingly blue waters of Lake Tekapo make this a dream
location for photographers. There are many opportunities to stop and take photographs
Mount John Observatory
around the lakes’ perimeter, with several walking tracks and lookouts.

Fortunately for us, Lake Tekapo resides in the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. Very limited light pollution
means the views of the night sky seem to stretch on as far as the eye can see. Within this reserve is New Zealand’s
premier astronomical research center, the Mount John Observatory.

Tonight, we will join Earth & Sky for a Mt John Observatory Tour. Spend the evening discovering what the southern sky has to
offer, and experience the thrill of looking deep into the cosmos with world-class telescopes. Our knowledgeable guides will
even help us learn the art of astrophotography with some advanced camera settings to capture the stars. Last time we were
here we were treated to a stunning view of Aurora Australis, the Southern Lights and the guides helped us photograph it all.

Day 5 Lake Tekapo
Overnight: Peppers Blue Water Resort

After breakfast our private coach will take us to the Church of Good Shepherd, the region’s most celebrated and photographed icon. We
will then return up the mountain to the Mt. John Observatory for panoramic daytime views of Lake Tekapo and a visit to the
Observatory’s Astro Café.

The afternoon is free to pursue documentary photography and video projects. Lake Tekapo is an ideal spot to practice long-exposure
landscape photography (bring an ND filter today). Discover nearby lakeshore hikes, the Balmoral Farmyard and Alpaca tour (just
behind our hotel), or the Tekapo hot springs.

Church of the Good Shepherd Mt John Astro Café Lake Tekapo

Day 6 Lake Tekapo to Hooker Valley

Overnight: Hermitage Hotel

After an early breakfast, we will depart for Aoraki Mount Cook, home to the tallest mountain in New Zealand and the longest glacier.
Upon arrival in the Hooker Valley we will depart for a (optional) Half Day Hooker Valley Day Walk. Knowledgeable guides will tell us all
about the unique flora and fauna of the region and the local history as we trek through this amazing landscape. The 7km journey
passes over the Hooker River to unsurpassed vistas of Aoraki Mount Cook's south face and the surrounding glaciers and mountains.

Optional: This afternoon we will continue our exploration of Aoraki Mount Cook with Glacier Explorers on Tasman Glacier terminal lake
(optional).  We will board custom built MAC boats, and photograph and document the Tasman Glacier ice face from the terminal lake
(from a safe distance). The cruise promises spectacular mountain views and scenery.

Tonight is a free evening. Continue practicing astrophotography — the darkness of the night sky around Aoraki Mt Cook is unbeatable.
Options include the Digital Dome Planetarium at the Sir Edmund Hilary Alpine Centre, a tour with or Big Sky Stargazing, or exploring
the night life around Aaoriki Mt Cook village.

Hooker Valley Hooker Valley Tasman Glacier


 Day 7 Mt. Hook to Wanaka
Overnight: Edgewater Hotel

After breakfast we depart in our private coach for a scenic drive through the Otago region of the
South Island. We will make a stop at the local Wanaka Lavender Farm where we can explore
lavender fields, gardens and learn about the local honey, including the world famous Manuka
Lavender Farm
honey, and interact with the friendly resident farm animals.

We will continue on our way to the lakeside town of Wanaka. Visitors from around the world
come to Wanaka for the energy, a feeling that sets Wanaka apart, and makes it an incredible base
for outdoor activities. In the Maori language, Wanaka means “renewal of the soul.”

This is a free afternoon to pursue documentary photography and video projects. Hike Roy’s Peak,
play disk golf, visit the local shops and art galleries, or picnic at the lake.
Lake Wanaka

At sunset, we will meet at Lake Wanaka to document the world famous willow tree (see:
#thatwanakatree) which sits in the lake here.

Day 8 Wanaka
Overnight: Edgewater Hotel

Optional: After an early breakfast at our hotel, we will embark at 8am for an
(optional) full day Southern Explorer Excursion (with Paddle Wanaka). We will head
out on Lake Wanaka in kayaks today, with Mt. Aspiring Park towering over us. We will
paddle through some of the region’s most iconic, remote, and beautiful landscapes
as we head to ’Mou Waho island. Walk to the summit of the island to find a true
natural wonder of the region, a secret of the great walks of Wanaka - a lake on an
island on a lake. Head back to the beach for a picnic lunch. To top it all off, take a
water taxi ride back to Wanaka, relaxing on board this afternoon. *No previous kayak
Paddle Wanaka experience necessary.

Mou Waho Island

Day 9 Wanaka to Te Anau
Overnight: Distinction Te Anau Hotel and Villas

After breakfast in Wanaka we will begin our scenic drive to Te Anau. The township of Te Anau sits on the edge of Lake Te Anau,
lying on the border of Fiordland National Park and Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area. The night sky here is famous. The
Maori used it not only to navigate to the island but also made astronomy and star lore a part of their culture and daily lives.

This is an afternoon for you to pursue your documentary photography and video projects. The Te Anau Bird Sanctuary is a short
walk from the hotel, with some of Fiordland’s rare birds that are difficult to see in the wild or discover the glow worms on a cave
tour. This evening, photograph the sunset over the tranquil shores of lake Te Anau, with a vast array of mountains beyond.

Distinction Hotel Lake Te Anau Bird Sanctuary

Day 10 Te Anau/Milfdord Sound

Overnight: Distinction Te Anau Hotel and Villas

After an early breakfast we are off to explore Fiordland National Park, one of the world’s untouched treasures. Surround yourself with
huge ice‐carved mountains, rugged terrain, deep fiords, beautiful glaciers, and lush native forests.

Experience what is considered one of the nicest walks in the world as we retrace the steps of early explorers on the world-renowned
Milford Track. Walk along valleys carved by glaciers, wander through ancient rainforests, and admire cascading waterfalls on a half-
day guided walk to Giant's Gate Waterfall. Enjoy a picnic lunch in this spectacular setting along the way. This New Zealand Great
Walk is suitable for all abilities. From the ancient canopy trees towering above to the emerald-green ferns below and the birdsong
that echoes through the trees, it is a unique area best explored by foot.

After our hike, we will experience this majestic landscape from the water. A two-hour boat cruise in Milford Sound will give us a
different perspective on the area. On board, there are excellent photo opportunities of waterfalls, rainforest and mountains as we
head into a truly untouched part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area.

Giants Gate Waterfall Milford Trek Milford Sound Cruise

Day 11 Te Anau to Queenstown

Overnight: Novotel Queenstown Lakeside or Hotel: Rydges Lakeland Resort

After breakfast, we will return to Queenstown. Surrounded by the magnificent Remarkables

and framed by the meandering coves of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is considered to be the
Steamer Wharf
Adventure capital of the world

After check in, enjoy this free afternoon. Now is the time to do things we’ve never done
before: bungee jump, skydive, zipline, or spend the afternoon at the celebrated Queenstown

This evening, photograph the sunset over lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables.

Day12 Queenstown

This is an afternoon for you to pursue your documentary photography and video projects.

This evening we take the Skyline Gondola up the mountain for stunning views of Lake
Wakatipu and the Remarkables. Watch a performance of the famous Maori Haka which
encapsulates the war dance and use of poi. Take panoramic photographs on the
observation deck. We will then enjoy a farewell dinner together and celebrate the end of
Gondola an exceptional trip at Skyline’s Stratosfare Restaurant.

Day 13 Queenstown to Newark

We will enjoy one last morning in Queenstown before departing for the US. We will say
goodbye to this beautiful country as we transfer to the airport in Queenstown for our
flights home.

Maori Haka
* Please note: we will attempt to adhere to the itinerary as much as possible. However,
certain conditions (climatic, environmental, and cultural) may necessitate impromptu
changes in the itinerary.

Skyline Stratosfare

Course Policies


Come to class fully prepared to engage in the exchange of ideas. It is your responsibility to bring the necessary
materials to class each week. You will also need to access (and use) Canvas and email. Save and backup all work at all
times. It is also a good idea to bring headphones to class, as we will sometimes be interacting with media-rich content.


Be here, on time. You are expected to attend class each week and be well prepared. We will often work on projects,
watch videos, conduct group work, and other activities during class time. There is no substitute for your presence during
class. Significant absences will hurt your grade because you will not be in class to participate and collaborate. I take
attendance. You are allowed two absences. If you are absent more than two times you will automatically lose 10% of
your final grade. If you miss 4 or more classes, you will not pass the course. Lateness or leaving early is considered
unprofessional and will affect your daily participation grade by 10%.

Late Work

Late work is deducted 20% for each late day. If an assignment or project is posted after a deadline, it will be deducted

Office Hours and After Hours

I hope you will take advantage of my office hours. I am available to offer extended feedback on your projects (beyond
the written feedback you formally receive). You don’t need to have a problem to come visit, but if you do find yourself
having some difficulty or questions, then I certainly want to see you sooner rather than later. If you cannot make
scheduled office hours, arrange to see me at another time.

Equipment to check out

The COM Studies department has all of the equipment what you will need to complete course assignments. Everyone in
the department, including faculty, use the gear for their work, so it’s important that we all treat it kindly and return it on
time. More details here.
Writing Center

The Saint Joseph’s University Writing Center is free to all members of the SJU community. The undergraduate and
graduate student writers who make up the staff can assist you in any stage of the writing process, from brainstorming to
organizing and developing your ideas, to citing sources to proofreading. They work with students from across the
university on a variety of assignments and projects: lab reports, business policy papers, poems, essays, research papers,
dissertations, resumes, and personal statements for graduate school applications, among many others. You name it;
they’ve helped writers write it. Both appointments and drop-in sessions are available. The main Writing Center is located
in 162 Merion Hall. The Center also has a satellite location in the Post Learning Commons (room 128). For more
information, including hours of operation and instructions on how to make an appointment, please visit the SJU Writing
Center website at

Academic honesty

If you use ideas or information that are not common knowledge, you must cite a source. This rule applies to all the
course activities and projects including reading responses, multimedia projects, and essays. How to cite a source will be
discussed in class. St. Joseph’s University’s academic honesty policy can be found here.

The penalty for plagiarism is an automatic Fail for this class and a letter of notification to the Committee on Discipline. If
you are suspected of plagiarism or an act of dishonesty, action will be taken. In all courses, each student has the
responsibility to submit work that is uniquely his or her own. All of this work must be done in accordance with
established principles of academic integrity. Specific violations of this responsibility include, but are not limited to, the

•Cheating, copying, or the offering or receiving of unauthorized assistance or information in examinations, tests,
quizzes, reports, assigned papers, or special assignments, as in computer programming, studio work, and the like.

•The fabrication or falsification of data, results, or sources for papers or reports

•Any action which destroys or alters the work of another student; The multiple submission of the same paper or report
for assignments more than one course without the prior written permission of each instructor; Plagiarism, the
appropriation of information, ideas, or the language of other persons or writers and the submission of them as one’s
own to satisfy the requirements of a course.

Plagiarism thus constitutes both theft and deceit. Compositions, term papers, or computer programs acquired, either in
part or in whole, from commercial sources or from other students and submitted as one’s own original work shall be
considered plagiarism. All students are directed to the standard manuals of style or reference guides for discussions of
plagiarism and the means by which sources are legitimately acknowledged, cited, quoted, paraphrased, and footnoted—
whether presented in an oral report or in writing.

Rules regarding the use of information in this course

1) If you use the language of your source, you must quote it exactly, enclose it in quotation marks, and cite the source. If
you use the language of your source, quote the wording exactly. This is called a direct quotation. A direct quotation is
either enclosed in quotation marks or indented on the page. If you omit part of the wording, use an ellipsis (three
periods, four if necessary for punctuation to indicate the omission).

2) A paraphrase employs source material by restating an idea in an entirely new form that is original in both sentence
structure and word choice. Taking the basic structure from a source and substituting a few words is an unacceptable
paraphrase and may be construed as plagiarism. Creating a new sentence by merging the wording of two or more
sources is also plagiarism.

Services for students with disabilities

Reasonable academic accommodations may be provided to students who submit appropriate documentation of their
disability. Students are encouraged to contact Dr. Christine Mecke in the Office of Student Disability Services,
Bellarmine, B-10, at; or at 610.660.1774 for assistance with this issue. The university also provides an
appeal/grievance procedure regarding requested or offered reasonable accommodations through Dr. Mecke's office.
More information can be found at: