COURSE DESCRIPTION: We’re drawn to and fascinated by horror because the genre reminds us, more than any other, that we have both outsides and insides, skin and guts, eyes and gray matter, ideas and appetites. The genre depicts bodies torn apart and monstrously reconfigured, but horror also reminds us that there are bodies in the audience, bodies in our living rooms, bodies seeing, bodies reading, bodies screaming.
Our course begins by considering the nature of monstrosity, what monsters are, what they do, and what they mean. Monsters are the quintessential Other w/ a capital “O,” persons or creatures defined as different from (and viewed as functioning outside) the dominant social group. They are the forgotten, the repressed, the underbelly of culture. As we survey a wide variety of monstrous bodies and texts, we will consider the following sorts of questions: Why is culture so quick to turn away in the face of the unnameable? What sorts of identity groups are deemed monstrous and ostracized by culture? What happens to bodies transformed (by technology, death, evolution, etc.)? What is the relationship between humans and animals? And, perhaps most importantly, why do we create monsters? What cultural function do they serve? Finally, we’ll spend a good deal of time considering our own relationship to the works of the course (and our own potential for monstrosity), thinking about the real (psychological and physical) impact media has on us. While working on a multimodal research-intensive project, students will engage in activities/assignments that explore the sometimes monstrous (and sometimes violent) nature of composition itself.
The subject will lead us through difficult terrain (vampires, slashers, cannibals, the walking dead, etc.), and we will have to sludge through some gore along the way. If you are squeamish you would likely prefer another section of this course.
Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye
Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead, Vol. 2: Miles Behind Us
Bram Stoker, Dracula (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
John Gardner, Grendel
H. G. Wells, The Time Machine
Georgia Tech Writing and Communication Program’s custom-designed E-text
Online PDFs (Readings are password-protected.)
OPTIONAL TEXT: (John Gardner's Grendel, which we're discussing this semester,is the story of Beowulf told from the monster's perspective. Many people read Beowulf in high school. If you haven't read it, I strongly recommend you check it out, as I think you'll enjoy Grendel more if you know the story.)
Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney
REQUIRED FILMS: (While you are not required to purchase these, I’m including links here in case you want to work more closely with any of these films on the assignments you complete this semester. You may want to consider investing in a Netflix membership for this course. You can get a free trial by clicking here.)
Gareth Edwards, Monsters (2010)
Cooper and Schoedsack, King Kong(1933)
Alfred Hitchcock, The Birds(1963)
Ridley Scott, Alien (1979)
Matt Reeves, Let Me In (2010)
George Romero, Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Frank Darabont, The Walking Dead, “Guts”(2010)
Toby Wilkins Splinter (2008)
Neil Marshall, The Descent(2005)
There will be various costs for the materials and incidentals you’ll need to complete major projects (see below). Estimate an additional $30 - $40 beyond the cost of required texts. This includes a $10 contribution to the film production, which is the major class project.
OUTCOMES: The expected Outcomes For First-Year Composition in the Georgia Tech Writing and Communication Program can be found here. Specific aspects of this document will be referred to in the instructions for each of the assignments you complete this semester.
ATTENDANCE AND PARTICIPATION: Since this is a collaborative course, focusing heavily on discussion and work in groups, you have a responsibility to yourself and your classmates to show up for class on time and prepared. The class will be a cooperative learning experience, a true intellectual community. And so, you and your work are, in a very real sense, the primary texts for this course. Because of this, participation will be a very large component of your final grade. More than three absences during the semester will lower your final grade for participation by one full letter grade. More than six absences may result in automatic failure of the course. Also, in order for the class to work together as a community, it is important that you complete all assigned work before each class session. If you are going to miss class or can’t finish the assigned work for any reason, your best strategy is to discuss this with me in advance either in person or via e-mail.
OFFICE HOURS: I have scheduled regular office hours and I’m also available by appointment. If you’d like to meet in person, I’d recommend setting up a time in advance. I’m always happy to meet with you (to discuss the course or just to chat). This is the most effective way for me to give you individual attention and get to know you better. I encourage you to meet with me as early in the semester as possible, especially if you have any particular questions or concerns. I’m also very easy to reach by e-mail. In fact, e-mail is (by far) the best and quickest way to contact me. You can send an e-mail with questions or comments to me at Jesse.Stommel@lcc.gatech.edu.
E-MAIL: I will be sending regular announcements to you via e-mail, so if you do not check your e-mail regularly, you will miss important information.
ONLINE COURSE CONTENT: There are numerous links on this webpage that take you to various assignments and readings we will be doing throughout the semester. You can access e-texts of some of the readings via this web page--just click on the title in the schedule. My advice: if you make this web site your friend, you’ll have no trouble completing all the reading and assignments for the course. As we proceed, I will be uploading additional content, including more course notes, activities, and assignments, so keep checking for updates.
COLLABORATION: Collaboration will be a major component of this course. You will collaborate with your classmates on nearly every assignment you complete. While I will work closely with you to help you navigate these collaborations, if you are entirely uncomfortable working with a group, you would likely prefer another section of this course.
THE WORK OF THE COURSE: Specific details for major assignments forthcoming as the semester proceeds.
Class Participation. This includes your attendance, involvement in class discussion, in-class assignments, and small-group work. As I mentioned, this is (by far) the most important component of the course.
Blog. This is an offshoot of class participation. For this course you will be required to contribute to a blog where you will discuss your work and respond to issues that are raised in our reading and in class discussion. Unlike journaling or response papers you’d submit only to me, this will give you a chance to practice your writing in a more social forum. You are required to contribute at least one polished entry to the blog over the course of the semester, either focused on the production of the final project or offering an analysis of one of the films/texts we’re discussing. You must also comment on one or more of your peers' blogs at least twice per week. These comments should be as collaborative as possible. In other words, don’t just throw your ideas into a vacuum. Instead, ask questions of each other and use the other comments as a jumping off point by answering questions, amplifying or complicating ideas, etc. A blog entry can be collaboratively written (in a group of 2-3) and should be 500 - 750 words. A comment (written individually) should be 100 - 200 words.
Leading Class Discussion. You will help lead discussion at least one time throughout the semester. This is not a formal presentation. Rather, on the day you sign up for, be prepared to come to class with a few questions or topics related to the reading/film for that day, and bring at least one or two passages/clips which you’d like the group to look at in detail. You are also encouraged to engage your group in writing or other activities related to the text you’re discussing. As you are leading class discussion, I will be mostly silent, moderating the discussions to some degree but primarily acting as a member of the group w/ my own questions, comments, etc. This activity will generally help shape the direction our discussion takes for the rest of the class period.
Worksheets. As a tool to help us focus our discussion, there will be a number of short worksheets due during the semester (two of these are already scheduled, although more may be added). These will consist of a single question or a set of questions designed to get you thinking about various themes, conflicts, and issues at play in the works we’ll be discussing. Please refer to the schedule for due dates.
Final Film Project. As a class, we will be producing a short (15 min) film. Throughout the semester, you will work in teams of 5 on various aspects of the film (production, screenwriting, filmmaking, post-production, and marketing). Since research is one of the major components of the course, you will be required to research your role carefully. Throughout the semester, you will also be researching thematic and historical topics related to the theme of the film. All of the other assignments you complete for the class will serve as ancillaries for the finished film. Within the first few weeks of the semester, you will begin work on the final film as part of one of five departments (each with a department head):
Production: The production department will be in charge of legal, financing, casting, and location scouting. They will produce a production schedule for the film in the first half of the semester and will work on coordinating a mini-film festival at the end of the semester.
Screenwriting: The screenwriting department will create a screenplay and storyboards for the film in the first half of the semester and will work on a published shooting script (a polished and formatted version with images, etc.) in the second half of the semester. They will also send members to the set to advise and re-write as the film is being shot.
Filmmaking: The filmmaking department will be in charge of shooting, lighting, directing, sound, etc. The film will be shot about halfway through the semester. The filmmakers will spend the first half of the semester acquiring equipment, building sets (if necessary), assembling costumes/props, etc. Once the film is shot, the filmmakers will work on a short (3 min) behind-the-scenes documentary.
Post-production: The post-production department will be in charge of editing, music, sound-effects, titles and credits, visual effects, etc. They will spend the first half of the semester preparing music, sound effects, and visual effects. The bulk of their work will be done in the second half of the semester, editing the film once it has been shot.
Marketing: The marketing department will produce a teaser trailer in the first half of the semester. In the second half of the semester, they will work on a full preview, a press-release, a DVD w/ insert, a web-site, and a film festival program.
Treatment. A treatment is a short synopsis used to pitch an idea for a film. At the start of the semester, before you’ve broken into departments, you will work on this project in groups of 2-3. Your treatment should be around 750 words and will include a logline (a 1-2 sentence summary of your idea), market research, a description of the major scenes/characters, and a discussion of themes the film would explore. You should also include sketches or other visual aids to support your proposal and a bibliography. I will choose 3-5 of the best treatments, which you will vote on as a class to determine what film will be made.
Poster. Halfway through the semester, everyone will create a poster that engages in an analytic or argumentative way with themes we’ve been discussing in the course. These could be posters that directly advertise the film we are making as a class, or they could be more tangentially related, such as a map or timeline of the historical/cultural progression of the horror film or a mash-up of significant monsters in literature and film. You will have the option of completing a poster on your own or with a group of 2-3.
Portfolio. At the end of the semester, you will select examples of and write reflections about the written, visual, and electronic artifacts you have created in this class. You will also write a reflection on your experience leading class discussion. Additional information about requirements for the portfolio can be found here.
GRADING: While I will be assigning final grades, you will also be evaluating your own work and the work of your team. At the middle of the semester, you will write a midterm self-evaluation that reflects on your work and contributions throughout the course. You will complete a similar self-evaluation at the end of the semester. Having your account of your own process is a very big part of how I assign grades. I will be giving evaluative feedback on major assignments, and you will definitely hear from me if I have concerns about your self-evaluations. The intention here is to help you focus on working in a more organic way, as opposed to working as you think you are expected to. If this process causes you anxiety, see me at any point to confer about your performance in the course to date.
Participation (including worksheets, leading class discussion, conferences, etc.) -- 30%
Blog -- 10%
Treatment -- 10%
Poster -- 10%
Multimodal Final Project -- 20%
Midterm and Final Self-evaluations -- 10%
Portfolio -- 10%
ASSIGNMENTS RUBRIC: As you work on your self-evaluations, please see the Writing and Communication Program’s rubric.
PLAGIARISM: First, I will say that if you are unable to complete an assignment for any reason, it is in your best interest to discuss the situation with me. Authorship is a hotly contested topic in the academy. At what point do we own the words we say and write or the images we create? Among authors and filmmakers, creative influence, collaboration, and a certain amount of borrowing are acceptable (even encouraged). So, what sort of statement or warning about plagiarism would be appropriate in this class? Let me go out on a limb and say: in this class, I encourage you to borrow ideas (from me, from the authors we read, from the films we watch, from your classmates). However, even more, I encourage you to really make them your own—by playing with, manipulating, applying, and otherwise turning them on their head. In the end, it’s just downright boring to rest on the laurels of others. It’s altogether more daring (and, frankly, more fun) to invent something new yourself—a new idea, a new way of thinking, a new claim, a new image. This doesn’t give you license to copy something in its entirety and slap your name on it. That’s just stealing. Instead, think very consciously about how you are influenced by your sources—by the way knowledge and creativity depend on a sort of inheritance. And think also about the real responsibility you have to those sources.
LAPTOP COMPUTER USE: This course requires you to bring your laptop computer to all class meetings.
ACADEMIC CONDUCT: You are responsible for knowing and abiding by GT’s policy for academic integrity. Consult the Honor Code online at http://www.honor.gatech.edu. Work that violates the Honor Code will not be accepted and may result in failure of the entire course. I will also report any serious misconduct to the Office of Student Integrity.
DISABILITY NOTICE: If you need accommodations for a disability, please contact me at the beginning of the semester so that we can discuss them. You should also contact Access Disabled Assistance Program for Tech Students (ADAPTS) within the first two weeks of the semester so that they can help us to develop reasonable accommodations. For an appointment with a counselor call (404) 894-2564 (voice) / (404) 894-1664 (voice/TDD) or visit 220 Student Services Building. For more information visit http://www.adapts.gatech.edu.
Aug. 22: Introduction
Aug. 24: Excerpt from Horror, the Film Reader
Aug. 26: Film: Monsters (2010) (Netflix)
Aug. 29: John Gardner, Grendel (pp. 5 - 74)
Aug. 31: John Gardner, Grendel (pp. 75 - 124)
“Monster Culture (Seven Theses)”
Sep. 2: JohnGardner, Grendel (pp. 125 - 174)
Sep. 5: NO CLASS
Sep. 6: Treatment Due(by midnight)
Sep. 7: Film: King Kong (1933)
Sep. 9: Film: King Kong (1933)
Sep. 12: Treatment Workshop
Sep. 14: Film: The Birds (1963)
Sep. 16: Film: The Birds (1963)
Sep. 19: Dexter / Dollhouse / Alien
Sep. 21: Dexter / "Yellow Wallpaper" / Alien
Sep. 23: Screenplay/Storyboard Workshop
Sep. 26: Bram Stoker, Dracula (ch. 1 - 10)
Sep. 28: Bram Stoker, Dracula (ch. 11 - 16)
Sep. 30: Bram Stoker, Dracula (ch. 17 - 22)
Oct. 3: Bram Stoker, Dracula (ch. 23 - 27)
Oct. 5: Film: Let Me In(2010)
Oct. 7: Film: Let Me In(2010)
Oct. 10: Poster Due
Midterm Self-evaluation Due
Oct. 12: Conferences
Oct. 14: Conferences
Oct. 17: NO CLASS
Oct. 19: Video Games (TBA)
Oct. 21: Video Games (TBA)
Oct. 24: Class Online (See instructions in Worksheet #4)
Oct. 26: Silence of the Lambs / Blair Witch / Paranormal Activity
Oct. 28: Silence of the Lambs / Blair Witch / Paranormal Activity
Oct. 31: Film: Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Nov. 2: Film: Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Excerpt from Zombie Movie Encyclopedia
Nov. 4: Teaser/Music/Effects Workshop
Nov. 7: Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead (bk. 1)
Nov. 9: Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead (bk. 2)
Nov. 11: Film: The Walking Dead, "Guts"
Nov. 14:Rough Cut Workshop
Nov. 16:Film: The Walking Dead, "Guts"
Nov. 18: Marketing Workshop
Nov. 21: H. G. Wells, The Time Machine (ch. 1 - 8)
Nov. 23: H. G. Wells, The Time Machine (ch. 9 - ep.)
Nov. 25: NO CLASS
Nov. 28: Final Cut Workshop
Nov. 30: Film: The Descent (2005)
Dec. 2: Film: The Descent (2005)
Dec. 5: Final Final Cut Workshop
Dec. 7: Film: Splinter (2008)
Dec. 9: Film: Splinter (2008)
Dec. 11: Final Project Screening (6:00pm-10:00pm)
Final Self-evaluation Due
WOVEN Portfolio Due (Assignment on T-Square)
Worksheet #1: Why Horror? - Twitter Introduction
1. Create a Twitter account, if you don’t already have one, at http://twitter.com/. Visit this site for some info. about what Twitter is and how to use it: http://www.squidoo.com/TwitterTutorial. Update your Twitter profile, making sure to add a picture and your full name. If you prefer to retain some amount of anonymity, you could add a unique graphic that stands in for you, and you can use your full first name and last initial. Then, find me (@Jessifer) and follow. Be sure to confirm your Twitter account in your e-mail.
2. Create a Disqus profile on http://disqus.com/profile/signup. Connect using the Twitter account you just created. Be sure to confirm your Disqus account in your e-mail. Edit your profile in the Disqus account, again adding your name and using your Twitter picture as an Avatar.
3. After reading Jancovich’s introduction to Horror, the Film Reader, look at the first entry I’ve written on our course blog and respond using the comments box. Feel free to answer any of my questions, agree or disagree with points I’ve raised, etc. Try to refer specifically to something from the reading in your comment. How does Jancovich address the issues I’ve explored in my post?
4. Blog comments should be approximately 100 - 200 words. These comments should be collaborative, as close to a real discussion as possible. In other words, don’t just throw your ideas into a vacuum. Instead, ask questions of each other and use the other comments as a jumping off point by answering questions, amplifying or complicating ideas, etc. You’ll be conversing with students from all of my sections of 1102, so you may not recognize everyone you’re talking with.
5. Use your new Twitter account to tweet a short excerpt from your blog comment. Include #monstersclass somewhere in your tweet.
6. Review the syllabus and come to class on Wednesday with any questions you have.
Worksheet #2: Monster Culture
1. Start by reading Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s “Monster Culture: Seven Theses" and the assigned pages from Grendel.
2. Go to our course blog and respond to one of the recent entries I’ve posted. Feel free to answer any of my questions, agree or disagree with points I’ve raised, etc. I mentioned before that blog comments should be approximately 100 - 200 words; however, I don’t want you to get too caught up in worrying about the length of your comments. The thoughtfulness of your ideas is more important than the word count. Feel free to go over, and don’t ever (ever ever ever) add unnecessary words just to meet the arbitrary requirement. Of course, several shorter comments take the place of one longer one.
3. Once you’ve written a comment, reply directly to the comment of one of your peers by clicking on the “reply” button just below their comment. As before, ask questions of each other and use the other comments as a jumping off point by answering questions, amplifying or complicating ideas, etc.
4. Again, use your new Twitter account to tweet a short excerpt from one of your blog comments. Include #monstersclass somewhere in your tweet.
5. That’s all. No need to send anything to me. I will engage with the discussions on the blog right along with you.
Worksheet #3: King Kong and Deconstruction
1. Go to our course blog and respond to one of the recent entries I’ve posted. I've added an entry about King Kong and deconstruction, but you are welcome to return to one of the previous topics as well.
2. Once you’ve written a comment, reply directly to the comment of at least two of your peers by clicking on the “reply” button just below their comment. As before, ask questions of each other and use the other comments as a jumping off point by answering questions, amplifying or complicating ideas, etc.
3. Again, tweet a short excerpt from one of your blog comments. Include #monstersclass somewhere in your tweet. This time find another hashtag where discussions are going on about something relevant to our class. This will involve a little bit of research on your part. You may want to refer back to the Twitter tutorial site: http://www.squidoo.com/TwitterTutorial. Please also include a link to the blog entry in your Tweet. Example: "King Kong disrupts the binary man/animal, pointing to new #posthuman existence of the industrial age: http://bit.ly/olVn0w #monstersclass" Try and get everything into one Tweet like I have (a challenging exercise in itself), but feel free to write follow-up tweets that continue your thought.
4. That’s all. No need to send anything to me.
Worksheet #4: The Twitter Essay
1. First, something slightly more formal on Twitter. I want you to write what I call a "Twitter-essay." In the next few weeks, we will return to some of the overarching questions of the course, so let's use this activity as a way for us to begin formulating the revised thinking we have about monstrosity, the human, horror, etc. Here are the instructions:
What is a monster? Answer in a Twitter essay of exactly 140 characters using #twitteressay. Play, innovate, incite. Don't waste a character.
(By the way, the instructions above are exactly 140 characters, so this will give you a sense for how much space you have to work with.) Post your "essay" on Twitter. The only rule is that you include the hashtag "#twitteressay" somewhere in your Tweet. You can add additional hashtags or links, but you can only write one Tweet and it must be exactly 140 characters. Feel free to address any aspect of monstrosity. (No need to use #monstersclass, unless it makes specific sense for you to include this hashtag.) You can offer a revised definition of the word "monster" or narrow in on a more specific aspect. Spend time carefully composing, making sure that every character of your tweet is necessary and meaningful. As you work, think also about the components of an essay: a hook, an argument, supporting evidence, etc. While you can take creative license in how you interpret this word "essay," you should at least be able to make an argument (if pressed) for how your Tweet functions as an "essay."
2. Now, peer review. Search #twitteressay on Twitter to see all of the Twitter essay tweets. Respond to (and, perhaps, retweet) at least two of the ones you find. In your response, analyze the choices the author made and/or offer additional thoughts. Include the author's handle and hashtag "#monstersclass" somewhere in your tweet. So, for example, if I were peer reviewing my own instructions:
@Jessifer's use of "incite" in the #TwitterEssay is unusual juxtaposed with "play." Incite often has negative connotations. #MonstersClass
(Note that the peer review tweet does not have to be exactly 140 characters.)
3. Finally, go to our course blog and respond to one of the recent entries. I've added another entry about Limbo and a free for all forum, where you can put anything you've been thinking about related to our class but haven't had a space to share. As usual, make sure you are putting your own ideas out there but also responding directly to your peers.
4. That’s all. No need to send anything to me.
A treatment is a short synopsis used to pitch an idea for a film. At the start of the semester, before you’ve broken into departments, you will work on this project in groups of 2-3. Your treatment should be around 750 words and will include a logline (a 1-2 sentence summary of your idea), market research, a description of the major scenes/characters, and a discussion of themes the film would explore. You should also include sketches or other visual aids to support your proposal and a bibliography. I will choose 3-5 of the best treatments, which you will vote on as a class to determine what film will be made.
RUBRIC: Click here for a rubric you can use in thinking about this assignment and when completing your midterm and final self-evaluations. This rubric is condensed from the Writing and Communication Program’s, the full version of which can be found here.
A NOTE ON GENRE: Your treatment can play very loosely with monster movie conventions. It should intersect with the themes of our class, but where and how it intersects with these themes is up to you. Go wild with your idea, but don’t be afraid of subtlety. You are free to pitch an idea for either a fiction or non-fiction film in any genre: documentary, mockumentary, horror, comedy, satire, etc. Depending on the kind of film you propose, you may need to adapt some of these instructions. Everything here is a guideline, meant to be tweaked as needed.
SUBMITTING YOUR WORK: Use Google Docs (http://docs.google.com) to compose your treatment in a group of 2-3. Submit your work by sharing your document with me (Jesse.Stommel@lcc.gatech.edu). You can share your document with me as you are working, so I can witness your process unfold, but you can also wait until your work is complete. Just make sure to share your document with me by the due date on the schedule.
1. Logline. A logline is a 1-2 sentence summary of your idea. It conveys the story and themes of your film in the most abbreviated manner possible. This section is really the most important part of your treatment. Most readers will have made up their minds about your work after reading just your logline. Here is a rather long article about crafting a very short logline: http://twoadverbs.site.aplus.net/loglinearticle.htm.
2. Market Research. This section should discuss how your film would fit into the horror/monster movie canon. While you do not need to be all that concerned about the profitability of the film you produce, you should research the financial and critical success of films you deem similar to the one you’re proposing. The goal of this section is to convince us that your film would be successful, hasn’t been made before, and is the exact right film to make right now.
3. Description of Major Scenes/Characters. Here you’ll include brief descriptions of your characters, their motivations, and the trouble they’ll get into over the course of the film. You want to create a picture for your readers in as few words as possible. In this section you might not want to waste words on complete sentences. Instead, you could have something like: “Brenda. A 12-year-old girl with pigtails and overalls. Likes twirling her hair and eating the heads of small animals. Spends most of the film looking for squirrels to snack on.” You should also include a brief outline of the plot and/or structure of your film. Remember, the final film will be about 15 minutes, so you should keep that in mind when determining the scope of your narrative. Don’t feel pressured to make a certain kind of film by the sections of this treatment. If you have an idea for a film without characters or would like to propose a documentary, feel free to adapt the needs of this section accordingly.
4. Discussion of Themes. This is where you’ll want to talk about how your film engages with ideas we’ll be discussing this semester. This isn’t Mad Libs, but these are the sorts of sentences you’re looking for: “The monster is a figure about ____________, and so our film will explore _________, _________, and ________. Humans have become ___________, and our narrative will thus disrupt ____________.” I would recommend that you quote from outside sources in this section. What have critics and theorists said about monsters, bodies, etc., and how will your film engage with current thinking on these subjects?
5. Visual Aids. Include sketches, pictures, or other visual aids to help support your proposal. These do not need to be artistically sounds. The goal is to get your reader’s attention and put your idea into their head quickly and powerfully.
6. Bibliography. If you quote from outside sources, include a brief bibliography citing those sources.
OUTCOMES: One of the goals of this assignment is to help us decide what direction we will go in for our final project this semester; however, the work you do here will have both instrumental and intrinsic value. Thus, you will be working collaboratively, doing research to support a thoughtful critical engagement with the subjects of our course. And your work will have a real audience (beyond just your instructor), forcing you to think carefully about that audience and the various rhetorical components of the document you create.
RESOURCES: Read or review these sections of the e-text as you are thinking about and constructing your treatment: “Attribution and Research” in Chapter 2 (paying careful attention to sections 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 43, and whichever style guide you use for your bibliography).
For this assignment, you’ll construct a poster that functions as a visual essay, using both images and words to make an argument about subjects we’re discussing this semester. You should include a short artist’s statement (no more than 250 words) analyzing your own work -- explaining the various issues you’re exploring and how they relate to other texts/films we’ve discussed in class (using direct quotes where possible). You can complete this assignment on your own or with a group of 2-3. Unlike most of the other assignments you’re doing this semester, you are welcome to complete this assignment with a group made up of members from any of my sections. There are several options for how you might approach this assignment:
1. Create a traditional movie poster for the film we are producing as a class, including images, the title, a tag line, perhaps a synopsis of the film, the release date, etc. If you google “movie poster,” you’ll find lots of examples of directions you can go with this. This could also be a poster that advertises our Monster Film Fest more generally, rather than focusing on the specific film for your class. Since we don’t yet have filming completed, you’ll have to be creative about how you produce images for your poster. Of course, I don’t expect everyone in class to be an artist, but you should still think very carefully about composition, color, visibility of important text from a distance, etc.
2. Create something that more closely resembles the sort of poster you’d see at a poster presentation in your discipline, but have it be about monsters, posthuman bodies, Dracula, or any other topic we’ve discussed this semester. For example, you might create a visual timeline of monster movies, exploring the various issues explored during each era, tracking the progression of themes in monster narratives throughout history. Or, you might create a poster that visually investigates one of the texts/films we’ve discussed in class, perhaps with a map that tracks the movement of the monsters or some such conceit.
3. Create a poster that thinks very self-consciously about poster design, marketing, propaganda, etc. For example, you might re-imagine early-20th-century war propaganda posters with an apocalyptic, monster-infested spin. This option could certainly be combined with one of the others.
4. All these options are merely suggestions. The best thing you could do is something I couldn’t possibly anticipate. Feel free to go out on a limb. The main requirement here is that you think self-consciously about design and composition in making a visual argument about an issue that is alive in our classroom (or dead, as the case may be).
RUBRIC: Click here for a rubric you can use in thinking about this assignment and when completing your midterm and final self-evaluations. This rubric is condensed from the Writing and Communication Program’s, the full version of which can be found here.
SUBMITTING YOUR WORK: Print a large-format poster that you’ll bring to class for display on the due date. The cheapest ways to do this are to use the poster printer in the library or the one in the Craft Center in the Student Center. I would recommend attaching your poster to a backing (like foamcore) so that it is easy to display in class. Also, upload a PDF of your work to Crocodoc (http://Crocodoc.com/) and include the link with your artist’s statement and midterm self-evaluation, which you’ll submit via e-mail (Jesse.Stommel@lcc.gatech.edu).
OUTCOMES: The expected outcomes for First-Year Composition in the Georgia Tech Writing and Communication Program can be found here. The primary goal of this assignment is to develop your use of (and analysis of) visual rhetoric. You will particularly consider the interaction between text and image, as well as thinking about how images influence and convey meaning to viewers.
RESOURCES: Read or review these sections of the e-text as you are thinking about and constructing your poster. “Designing Pages and Screens” in Chapter 6 (paying careful attention to sections 89-95).
Final Film Project
As a class, we will be producing a short (15 min) film. Throughout the semester, you will work in teams of 5 on various aspects of the film (production, screenwriting, filmmaking, post-production, and marketing). Since research is one of the major components of the course, you will be required to research your role carefully. Throughout the semester, you will also be researching thematic and historical topics related to the theme of the film. All of the other assignments you complete for the class will serve as ancillaries for the finished film. Within the first few weeks of the semester, you will begin work on the final film as part of one of five departments (each with a department head).
COLLABORATION AND INNOVATION: Once in your department, you will need to work together to delegate the various duties. I offer below a sense of the various things each group might accomplish; however, I encourage individual departments to also consider other ways that they might fulfill their role. Read or review these sections of the e-text for suggestions on how to foster good collaboration in your department: chapter 2, sections 13 and 14.
DEPARTMENT HEADS AND CONFERENCES: Each group will self-nominate a department head. All the department heads will meet several times throughout the semester to discuss and coordinate the interactions between the various departments. I will have individual conferences with each department and with the department heads (see dates on schedule). This will give us a chance to confer about our progress and to consider next steps for the project.
PRODUCTION DEPARTMENT: The production department will be in charge of legal, financing, casting, and location scouting. They will produce a production schedule for the film in the first half of the semester, a legal brief and accounting of incoming and outgoing funds in the second half of the semester, and will work on coordinating the mini-film festival at the end of the semester. The members of this group will be leaders in charge of organizing the end-of-semester event and coordinating the interactions between the rest of the groups. This group’s work will be spread relatively evenly across the semester, and there will be quite a bit of flexibility for due dates for specific components.
Resources: I highly recommend that one or more of the members in your group purchase this book: The Filmmaker's Handbook. It’s very inexpensive given the amount of information it contains. Since you will be interacting with all of the other departments, this book gives a good sense for what everyone will be doing. Also, this book is a good resource for the legal dimensions you’ll be tasked with exploring: The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers. Finally, read or review these sections of the e-text: chapter 2, sections 36, 37 and 43.
SCREENWRITING DEPARTMENT: The screenwriting department will create a screenplay and storyboards for the film in the first half of the semester and will work on a published shooting script (a polished and formatted version with images, etc.) in the second half of the semester. They will also send members to the set to advise and re-write as the film is being shot. This group’s work will involve creative writing, document design, photography, drawing, etc. The members of this group will be working very quickly to produce a screenplay and storyboards from Sep. 12 - Sep. 30. The rest of their work will be paced relatively slowly over the remainder of the semester.
Resources: To help with formatting, I highly recommend using screenplay-writing software instead of trying to compose in a conventional word-processing program. You can use this one for free on the web: http://scripped.com/. And here’s another that you can download free for use on a Mac: http://celtx.com/. I also highly recommend that one or more of the members in your group purchase this book: Cinematic Storytelling.
FILMMAKING DEPARTMENT: The filmmaking department will be in charge of shooting, lighting, directing, sound, etc. The film will be shot about halfway through the semester. The filmmakers will spend the first half of the semester acquiring equipment, building sets (if necessary), assembling costumes/props, etc. Once the film is shot, the filmmakers will work on a short (3 min) behind-the-scenes documentary. The head of this department will be the director, who will also collaborate closely with the heads of the screenwriting and post-production departments. This group’s work will be primarily creative, involving direction, cinematography, make-up, costumes, set-design, etc. The members of this group will complete much of their work from Sep. 30 - Oct. 21.
Resources: I highly recommend that one or more of the members in your group purchase this book: The Filmmaker's Handbook. It’s very inexpensive given the amount of information it contains. Also, this book would be especially useful for the director and cinematographer: Master Shots.
POST-PRODUCTION DEPARTMENT: The post-production department will be in charge of editing, music, sound-effects, titles and credits, visual effects, etc. They will spend the first half of the semester preparing music, sound effects, and visual effects. The bulk of their work will be done in the second half of the semester, editing the film once it has been shot. This group’s work will be primarily technical, using video and sound editing software to finalize the film. The members of this group will complete much of their work from Oct. 21 - Nov. 28.
Resources: I highly recommend that one or more of the members in your group purchase this book: The Filmmaker's Handbook. It’s very inexpensive given the amount of information it contains. Also, this book would be especially useful for the editors: Film Editing.
MARKETING DEPARTMENT: The marketing department will produce a teaser trailer in the first half of the semester. In the second half of the semester, they will work on viral marketing, a full preview, a press-release, a DVD w/ insert, a website, and a film festival program. This group will be jacks-of-all-trades, given the varied small components they will produce. Members of this group will have the option of working independently on some of these ancillaries, some of which will require technical writing (e.g. the press release), whereas others will offer lots of creative freedom (e.g. the teaser trailer and website). This group’s work will be spread relatively evenly across the semester, and there will be quite a bit of flexibility for due dates for specific components.
Resources: While it may be too expensive for someone in your group to buy, you should consider looking at this book for ideas about how graphic design has been used for film marketing: Art of the Modern Movie Poster. Also, this book is more relevant for professional productions looking for a real distributor, but you might still find some sections useful: The Complete Independent Movie Marketing Handbook.
OUTCOMES: Each department will work in different ways toward a common goal but will have tasks that stress:
- Research. One of the main goals of this course is to develop your research skills.
- Critical Thinking. In addition to the analytical work we’ll be doing during class, this project will have you engaging with and analyzing your own creative production. You will also be forced to develop new strategies for achieving unfamiliar goals.
- Process. We will be working through the steps of this project carefully over the entire semester. You will be evaluating yourself and the work of your group at various steps along the way. You will also be meeting with me halfway through the semester to discuss and reflect on your work.
- Modes and Media. You will be working in many different media during the semester, including written, oral, visual, electronic, and nonverbal. You will be thinking carefully about the relationship between the various modes we use and media we study. You will be introduced to many new tools (software, electronic, and mechanical) during your work on and with these genres.
- Collaboration: This course requires you to work closely with a community of other thinkers, artists, and communicators. You will be considering both your individual process and reflecting on our process as a collective.