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Instructor: Dr. Jacinta ENGLI/MPTV 1135: Intro to Film Art: “The

Yanders (aka Dr. J)
Language of Film”
Pronouns: She/Her (what’s
this about?) Hello! In this class, we examine how films make meaning. To
achieve this goal, we'll watch and analyze several films. Film
Email: analysis can take many forms, some of which we'll tap into
this summer. To analyze a film effectively, we have to look
Catalogue Description beyond the obvious plot details and turn our attention to the
and Objectives: potentially less familiar components of film production that
Introduces the basic impact the viewing experience. Teasing out these choices,
elements of film as an art why they may have been made, and how we receive them as
form, including viewers is key to growing as students of film.
cinematography, mise-en-
scene, movement, editing, We’ll engage with films differently than how you may do as a
and sound. Social and casual viewer, but the goal isn't to stop enjoying films. You
media contexts of film will can (and should) critically engage with films you love.
also be considered. Approach each new film we watch with openness and
Through screening, generosity, regardless of whether you like or dislike the
discussion, and critical genre, style, and/or story of the film. Some of the stuff we
evaluation of selected films, watch for this class may be obscure, unfamiliar, and/or older
students develop an ability than your parents. You may or may not enjoy all of them, but
to interpret cinema through enjoyment is not necessary for analysis. Try to get a sense of
close examination of the why we're watching something, even if you don’t like it. What
relationship between its does the film have to offer us?
form and content.

• Practice active rather

than passive
spectatorship of film
• Identify various film types
and genres by their
characteristics and
• Discuss critical writing
about individual films and
film movements obtained
through research
• Articulate important
stages in the
development of film as a
mass medium and impact Movies reach inside and change us, even when we don't
on spectatorship realize it. Pause. Go watch this video and then come back.
• Analyze elements of film
related to both form and Like many other forms art and entertainment, movies evoke
content a wide range of emotions and attachments from viewers.
• Evaluate films according They also influence how we see the world around us as well
to their social and as how we're seen by other people. Movies don't just reflect
historical contexts culture as some sort of mirror. They shape it simultaneously.
What we want to figure out in this class is how and why
movies do this. We want to move past being passive
consumers and figure out how to bring our own voices into
the discourse. I hope you’re all ready to contribute. I look
forward to thinking and growing with you this summer!
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Accessibility Dr. J’s Goals

We all have different learning needs. In designing this class,
I've tried to account for many of those needs. We’ll complete In addition to the catalogue
a mix of activities and assignments because people thrive in objectives listed above, the
different areas. We’ll also consume information in various goals below represent I'd
modes to increase our collective comprehension. If there's like emphasize in our class.
some way in which your access and ability in this course These goals are not set in
could additionally be supported, please let me know. In stone and may change as
order to receive accommodations from COD’s Center for we move through the
Access and Accommodations, you can call them at semester. Once we start
630-942-2154 or email them at If you’d interacting as a class, we
like to learn more about what the Center does, check out may well determine there
their website: are other goals we want to
achieve. But this is where
What You Need I'd like us to start:
• The Godfather, 1972 film (rentable on Amazon for $3.99)
• NOTE: Due to the limited time window for • Develop as readers and
viewing rented materials from Amazon, you interpreters of and
should not rent this until I tell you to. thinkers about film
• Any additional materials needed will be posted in the • Understand how films
Blackboard modules each week impact culture and vice
• You should have a dedicated notebook (or notebook versa
section) for this class. • Understand how films
• Storage. I recommend having at least one type of physical impact audiences and vice
storage (flash drive, portable hard drive, etc) and one type versa
of cloud storage (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc). Device • Understand some of the
failures are inevitable. They come for all of us eventually. formal structures of film
Save your work early, often, and in multiple places. and their associated
Tech • Share our thoughts
Blackboard ( is the central hub for this class. generously and
Check it on a regular basis. I don’t recommend using the respectfully as a class and
Blackboard mobile app unless you have to because it’s learn from one another
prone to glitches. Each week, you'll be tasked with some
combination of reading, watching, listening, writing, and Also, I organize all of my
recording. To do all of this, you’ll need internet access. classes around four key
Since this is a film class, you'll be streaming a lot of media, principles borrowed from
which usually requires a strong internet connection. Clint Smith III: Read
critically, write
Steven Spielberg probably wouldn’t advocate watching films consciously, tell your
on phones, but I'm not Spielberg (lol). I do think watching truth.
films for this class on the biggest screen you have available
is a good practice though, especially when we're working Now here's your first
with formal analysis in the first few weeks of the semester. assignment: what do you
Many of the streaming sites we'll use, such as Crackle, have want to get from this class?
free apps on Roku, gaming devices, etc. So if it's possible, I Write your answer down
would suggest downloading those. Because you'll have to somewhere. We'll come
record video/audio for some of the class work, you also back to this later in the
need a camera-enabled device to do that on, whether it be a semester and see how
phone, computer, or tablet. If you've never done anything we're progressing toward
like that and it makes you nervous to think about, try not to achieving those goals.
worry too much. I will provide support for any tech
processes and software we'll be engaging in/with.
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Basic Needs
It's really hard to focus on school work when you're also facing difficulties with having your
basic needs (such as food and shelter) met. I do not expect you to leave your humanity at the
metaphorical door for the sake of this class. I've created a Resources page on our course site
that includes campus and community resources that can assist with resolving such issues. If
you want help with communicating with any of these resources, please don't hesitate to ask.
Additionally, if you know of any additional resources which would be helpful that I don't have
listed, feel free to send them my way. I also want to note here that COD does require me (as
well as the rest of your professors) to report disclosures of sexual violence to our Title IX
office. I want to be upfront about that because while I absolutely do want to provide support in
such instances, I also know that a student may not wish to trigger an automatic report for
various reasons, and I believe it's important for you all to have that information before making
the decision to disclose.

Besides the course work requirements, there are two primary ways in which you'll be able to
communicate with me. The first way is via email. You can find my email address on the first
page of this syllabus. You can also send me an email by going to the Send Email tab on our
course Blackboard page. Now a lot of people don't like email (I get it). You should definitely
still check your email daily, not just for communication from me, but also from your other profs
and COD in general. That being said, I'm also setting up a Discord server for our class. For
those unfamiliar, Discord is a chat app, and I've found that for many students, using a chat app
can be quite handy. We'll talk more about Discord during the first week of class. I tend to
respond to messages pretty quickly, but if you don't hear back, give me at least 24 hours
before trying again. I'm also available by appointment for video meetings if you're ever
interested in that. If you know you want to meet on say a Thursday afternoon, try not to wait
until Thursday morning to contact me. Like you, I have schedules, routines, and obligations
that have to be maneuvered. I'm totally willing, just make sure you give me some lead time.

Our assignments will have due dates, and you should aim to submit your work in accordance
with those due dates. Summer classes move quickly, and catching up later can be especially
challenging. I'm also less able to provide meaningful feedback the farther away we get from an
assignment’s due date. That being said, I’m amenable to extensions. Let me know as soon as
you think it's possible you might need more time, and remember that there's much less wiggle
room at the end of the semester. Try not to fall behind, but ALWAYS reach out if you do.

A Small Collection of Wise Words

• “The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is. It’s to imagine what’s possible.” - bell hooks

• "To the fans of everything everywhere...You’re not nostalgic for the time before art was political.
Art has ALWAYS been political. You’re nostalgic for the time before *you* were political. So move
forward, not backward! Embrace complex and challenging art! It’s fun!" - William Bibbiani

• "Art is our human birthright, our most powerful means of access to our own and another’s
experience and imaginative life. In continually rediscovering and recovering the humanity of
human beings, art is crucial to the democratic vision...There is no simple formula for the
relationship of art to justice. But I do know that art – in my own case the art of poetry – means
nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of power which holds it hostage." - Adrienne Rich

• “Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our
sense of life: they feed the soul." - Anne Lamott
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How This Class Works

Some of you may have taken fully online courses previously, some may have experienced the
Spring 2020 emergency conversion, and some of you may be brand new to the world of online
education. Regardless of your familiarity with online learning, please know that I'm here to
support you. Here’s some things to know to get started:
• Asynchronous: This class will operate primarily asynchronously, which means we won't
have routine required class meetings. There will be optional meetings and chats, which I
hope you'll all join in at least a few times throughout the semester
• Participation: For some of you, especially those new to online classes, asynchronicity can
be a bit jarring. The work of this class is designed for you to demonstrate your
understanding, and also to help foster community. To make this happen, we all have to
regularly engage with each others' questions and ideas. I know that being asked to do this
can sometimes feel inauthentic in online spaces, and I'm hoping that the opportunities I've
set in motion for our class move beyond that feeling of inauthenticity. If you have any
additional ideas about how we can develop our classroom community, please do share
them. Maybe you've taken an online class that did something else that worked really well,
and you think what they did would be a good fit for our class. We may not be able to do
everything, but I'm always open to new possibilities!
• Time Management: One place where I've seen students run into difficulty with online
classes has to do with time management. I recommend that you try to set aside
approximately 6-8 hours per week to do the work of this class. Keep in mind that at least
half of that time will be taken up by watching films each week. I also strongly encourage
you to establish a routine for yourself (Google Calendar, planners, and to-do-list apps are
your friends). In my experience, this is crucial when operating outside of the traditional
class structure. I will include time estimates with your work each week, so you can have a
better sense of what you want to do and when you want to do it.
• Due Dates: Work for this class will typically be due three times a week (Monday,
Wednesday, and Friday). However, you will be able to work ahead for most tasks in a
given week. Each week's module will be opened at 12am on Monday of that week. I will
usually send Announcement emails on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays as well
• Language & Identity: You’ll find that I'm not extremely contrarian about most things, but
I am about this: There's no such thing as “correct” or “proper” English. There is a
thing that can be referred to as standardized English, which has been maintained by the
powers that be, but that isn't the only English or the “right” one. The Conference on
College Composition and Communication had it right in 1972 when they declared
that students have a right to their own language. They noted that "Language scholars
long ago denied that the myth of a standard American dialect has any validity" and "The
claim that any one dialect is unacceptable amounts to an attempt of one social group to
exert its dominance over another. Such a claim leads to false advice for speakers and
writers, and immoral advice for humans" and most importantly " A nation proud of its
diverse heritage and its cultural and racial variety will preserve its heritage of dialects."
I welcome the deliberate usage of language variation in our work. Also, in this class, you
can use "I." You can use personal narrative. You won't necessarily do all of these things all
the time, but we also don't need to avoid them just for the sake of avoiding them. You don't
need to give up your identity, your voice, or your persona to be in this class. We all have
something to bring to the class. For example, I'm a pop culture nerd. I can be silly,
sarcastic, and cheesy as all get out. Like all of you, I'm teeming with life experiences,
values, and beliefs, especially about human rights. This means you should not expect
me to be neutral or objective, just like I don't expect you to be neutral or objective. I do,
however, expect you to back up your claims with evidence and explantation. And I
challenge you to always strive to make your compositions interesting and alive. You have
stories in you that only you can tell. So tell them.
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I tend to find it even more critical to be clear about the type of class community we want to
have when online than when face-to-face. The physical distance afforded by digital
communication sometimes brings out the absolute worst in people. While I generally expect
people to have a better handle on this in educational settings, there are some core principles
for our classroom community that I want to make clear:
• We're going to be watching content in this class that addresses tough topics like race,
sexuality, socioeconomic status, gender, nationality, etc. You may have an emotional
response to something you see, read, or hear, which is perfectly normal (and often, the
intention of the filmmakers). Some ideas and beliefs may challenge your views and/or be
contrary to your experiences. I expect you to enter our discussions with respect and
generosity. Doing so enables our class to be the brave space it needs to be for people to
share and for us all to grow. Listen. Try not to jump to conclusions. Ask clarifying
questions. Make sure you understand what's actually being said before you formulate a
response. We don't have to agree about everything, but we do need to be able to listen to
one another.
• I will always strive to give a heads up when content we're engaging with includes
representations that I know can be traumatic to view, such as sexual violence, child abuse,
and representations of suicide. If there's a particular type of content beyond the more
commonly known ones that you'd like a heads up on, let me know.
• My classes operate on a fundamental agreement that we do not make space for racism,
ableism, transphobia, sexism, xenophobia, etc. None of that is productive, and it's very
disruptive to classroom communities (and, ya know,
humanity in general). By remaining in this class, I expect
you to work with me in ensuring our class is one in which
compassion and care are at the forefront.
• Relatedly, how we address one another conveys respect.
For example, referring to me as Dr. Yanders or Dr. J or
Professor Yanders (my preferred names) rather than Ms.
Yanders or Mrs. Yanders is a matter of respect as is me
using the name you tell me you wish to use. I expect you to
refer to one another by the correct names, with the correct
pronunciations (if you don't know, you can typically find most
name pronunciations online), and with the correct pronouns.
• Last, but certainly not least, the devil does not need an

A Few More Wise Words

“Labor is work the body does over time. Labor in the writing classroom is the
experience of languaging. No matter what our pedagogical assumptions are
about learning or literacy, about grades or how to evaluate student writing, we all take
for granted that our students must labor in order to learn. They must read or write,
take notes or discuss. All pedagogies ask students to labor, to do something in order
to gain something else. However, typical grading systems rarely account for students’
labor in any way...Because labor is neglected in such conventional grading systems,
they often are unfair to diverse groups of students. They
(labor-based grading contracts) open a space for practices that can fail or miss the
mark, allowing students the freedom to take risks, and try new things in their writing
without the fear of losing points or failing the course.”- Asao Inoue
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Let's say we have two students who come into a writing class, and one has usually gotten
good grades in writing while the other has struggled to maintain a C average. After a semester
in the same class, the first student hasn't developed much, but they've been able to maintain
the same quality of work that they had
before they started the class.
Meanwhile, the second student still
struggles somewhat, but has put in
significant labor and shown ongoing
growth. Since they don't yet have the
same degree of mastery as the first
student, should the second student
receive a lower final grade simply
because they started the semester on a
different level? Should final grades
reflect what you do in a class or what
you already knew and were able to do
before the class? What if I told you that
letter grades actually do much more to
hinder learning than to support it? There
are many problems with the traditional
grading system (check out this slide
from Jesse Stommel).

In this class, we'll be using a labor-based approach. You won't receive letter grades on
individual submissions. Instead, each assigned task will be accompanied by a point value, with
30 total points earnable each week. Submissions that do what was asked will receive full
points. Submissions that don't will receive no points and are considered incomplete until the
submission is revised and requirements are met. For example, if you are asked to analyze a
film scene, and you turn in a summary rather than an analysis, you will receive no points for
the task until you submit a revised analysis. There will be no partial points given. As such,
points are earned by way of the completeness of your labor, rather than perceptions of quality.
If you do what's being asked, you'll get the credit. And if you need to make revisions, you can
still get the credit. The only ways to not get points are to not to do what's being asked (and not
revise) or to not turn anything at all. I will give feedback on some of the work you submit, and I
expect to see you applying the feedback you receive to future submissions. This is part of the
labor of the class.Please ask questions if you're unsure about any feedback.

Final grades will be based upon the following point scale:

A: 215-240 points
B: 191-214 points
C: 167-190 points
D: 143-166 points
F: 0-142 points

The goal here is to get away from the idea of a letter as the primary purpose of the class.
While grades do have real material consequences, they can't (or at least shouldn't be) our sole
motivation. When all that matters is the grade, course work tends to become an exercise in
landing a grade rather than an opportunity to really grapple with ideas, try new approaches,
and perhaps most importantly, have fun. We're not looking for paint-by-numbers work here.
Make everything you submit interesting, and make sure it matters to you, so that it can also
matter to your audience.
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Assignments and Course Overview

• Blog: The majority of the work you complete for this class will be housed in a blog you will
create during the first week of the semester. This means you’ll be writing for a real, public
audience. The posts you make in the blog will take a variety of forms throughout the
semester, but in general, you can expect them to regularly require you to apply what you’re
learning about film to the films we’re watching.
• Flipgrid: A portion of the work you complete each week will be in video/audio form and
posted to Flipgrid. We’ll talk more about how to use Flipgrid during the first week of class.
• Analysis Essay: At the end of the semester, you will apply what you’ve been learning
throughout the semester to a longer piece of writing in which you highlight the full scope of
your film knowledge.
• Other Weekly Tasks: Nondescript, I know, but this is essentially a catch-all category for any
tasks that fall outside of the above categories. These tasks might include answering specific
questions, annotating readings, commenting on your classmates’ work, etc.

Module 1 - Getting Started

1. How does this class work?

2. Why do we study film?
3. How do we study film?

Module 2 - Film Art and Language

1. What do we mean when we say “film language”?

2. What do films do to us?
3. What do we already know about film?

Module 3 - Formal Analysis

1. How are meanings assigned to film form?

2. How does film form shape content and reception?
3. How are stories structured in films?

Module 4 - Cultural/Historical and Genre Analysis

1. How are films classified?

2. How does film content shape form and reception?
3. How do films reflect and reform culture?