English 293 Introduction to Film Spring 2018
three credit hours
Section 1—Thursdays from 4:30pm to 7:20pm in H&SS 103
Karl Fornes, H&SS 208-B
MW 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Th 11:00am to 12:00pm
- Sikov, Ed. Film Studies: An Introduction. Columbia University Press, 2010.
- At least one of the following texts: Heart of Darkness, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Maltese Falcon, The Godfather, The Silence of the Lambs, The Shining
- A Netflix and/or Amazon Prime account to watch the movies
Several movies we will be viewing earn every bit of their “R” rating. The movies contain very strong language, sexual situations, and graphic violence, including sexual assault and attempted rape. If you do not feel comfortable viewing such scenes, see me and we will see what we can do.
Catalogue Description: A study of film as an art form with particular attention given to genres and stylistic techniques. A history of the cinema and an analysis of the elements that make up a film will also be a focus.
As such, our focus in English 293 in some ways is simple—to study film. Ultimately, the course will provide students with an introduction to film as a form and its role within the larger cultural context. We will focus primarily on the elements of film and the different genres of film.
Ultimately, the goal is for students to become film critics with the ability to speak/write about films, analyze films, discuss the differences in film genres, and place films in a cultural and historical context. In short, the course intends to help students identify what makes an “excellent” film.
Let’s put it another way. My wife Jennifer and I love the film Road House with Patrick Swayze. Given the time, we watch it whenever we click by it on the television. Similarly, each holiday season we gleefully gather to watch those two-hour holiday-themed soap operas broadcast on the Hallmark and Lifetime channels. We enjoy those films, and we are almost always entertained. But a philosophical bouncer who beats his way into rescuing a small rural town from a ruthless villain or an urban professional woman who helps save her grandfather’s ski lodge while falling in love with the handsome young widower and his precocious daughter do not make them good films. Indeed, as entertained as Jennifer and I are, they are horrible, horrible films. By the end of this semester, the goal is for you to know why Fargo is a better film than Road House, what makes film noir so appealing, why The Shining is so scary-good, etc.
Students will continue practice in the skills expected in previous college level writing courses. Thus, students will control their writing processes, particularly in source-based academic prose, in order to demonstrate competence in the following:
- Clarity of Purpose: Students will demonstrate the ability to establish a clear purpose (thesis or announced intent) and an appropriate awareness of audience, including an understanding of disciplinary conventions.
- Quality of Thought: Students will demonstrate a level of rational thought that recognizes and examines complexity of ideas and is supported by credible and logical evidence.
- Effective Organization of Content: Students will demonstrate unity and coherence, and demonstrate effective arrangement of content, all in the appropriate support of purpose.
- Synthesis and Integration of Sources: Students will demonstrate effective synthesis of multiple sources so that various claims, findings, and arguments are clearly and concisely presented.
- Attribution and Documentation of Sources: Students will demonstrate accurate citations in text and in works cited / references so that readers can clearly identify and track purposeful use of source materials.
- Language and Style: Students will demonstrate the ability to manipulate stylistic conventions in vocabulary, diction, and syntax for rhetorical purposes.
- Grammar and Mechanics: Students will demonstrate competence in grammar, usage, punctuation, and spelling.
Due Dates: All assigned work is due at the beginning of class on the announced due date. Work not turned in then will be considered late. Unless arrangements are made with me beforehand, I expect you to turn in all of your drafts personally and will not accept a draft sent via email. Late papers will result in the loss of 10 points per day regardless of the reason. I will not accept a paper more than five days after its due date and will assign a grade of zero (0).
If you know you will not be able to submit a draft on the announced due date, meet me in my office at least twenty-four hours before the draft is due. We will see about arranging an extension. I will not grant an extension without seeing some completed work. If you are granted an extension, I will place a sticky note on the draft with the extended due date and my initials. The sticky note must accompany the submitted draft. There will be no extensions on the portfolios.
Academic Honesty: Plagiarized work will receive at least a failing grade and may constitute failure for the semester. See the Departmental and Institutional Policy Sheet” (enclosed) for more information.
Attendance/Participation: Students are obligated for all assigned material whether they are present or not. Punctual and regular attendance is necessary for the successful completion of all courses. During the fall and spring semesters, a student’s unexcused absences must not exceed twice the number of scheduled class sessions per week.
There are two possibilities for an excused absence:
1.) Medical emergency
The student must provide documentation to me in a timely fashion.
2.) Participation in a university-sanctioned activity
The student must meet with me during the first two weeks of class to discuss which days will be missed.
For absences of any kind beyond the number allowed by department policy, the student is responsible for providing sufficient justification to the instructor, who will determine if an exception can be made to the accepted policy.
Students who miss a scheduled conference with me will be marked as an “unexcused” absence unless the student provides documentation in a timely fashion.
Every second time a student is late for class will be considered an “unexcused” absence unless the student provides proper documentation in a timely fashion.
Students who miss class or are late for class due to an “excused” absence may make up any reading quizzes; students who miss class or are late for class due to an “unexcused” absence may not make up any reading quizzes.
Classroom Deportment: Show respect for your fellow students and our classroom. Come to class on time and prepared. Stay seated at all times. Turn off all electronic devices and remain quiet while others are talking. If you have an emergency that requires you to keep your cell phone on, let me know before class. If you have a medical condition that requires you to use the bathroom during class, see me before class. Any and all disruptive behavior will be handled promptly and appropriately.
Electronic Communication: Under normal circumstances, I check my email account several times per day and am happy to provide feedback to you. That said, I will not read and immediately delete any inappropriate email. Here are some email guidelines with which you should be familiar:
- Use your school email account; I will not read email from other accounts.
- Include a clear and informative subject line; I will not read email without a subject or with vague subjects such as “question.”
- Include a proper salutation (e.g. “Hi Professor Fornes”), your course, and your section number.
- Do not ask for information that has already been introduced in class, such as information located on this syllabus or on assignment sheets.
- You are welcome to leave a voicemail; do not expect a return call.
Format: All papers must be word processed, double spaced, and printed on one side of the paper only. Each draft should have one-inch margins, left justified and right ragged. Place your name, date and course and section number in the upper left hand corner. All drafts should have a nifty title.
The Course Web Site (http://film.fornofrio.net): The course web site will be the “heart and soul” of the course. You should plan to check it on a daily basis—yes, even on weekends—for announcements, course materials, research assistance, etc. All students are responsible for keeping the web site conversation fruitful and dynamic.
Assessment (Preparation and Participation)
Quizzes (20% of course grade)
In order to motivate students to complete assigned readings, many classes will begin with a reading quiz. Students will be allowed to “make up” a quiz only if they have an “excused” absence. I will drop one quiz grade under circumstances to be discussed and announced later.
Participation—Blog Discussion (20% of course grade)
As noted above, we will use the class web site to discuss the films and our work over the course of the semester. At least two days before each blog prompt is due, I will create a separate post to the course web site. Each student will then use the “comment” feature of the web site to post a response to the prompt. I encourage students to use the comments of other students in order to fashion their replies. There is no set length for comments and replies but a total of about 150 words seems to be a worthy target. All blog comments are due by 11:59pm as noted on the web site for the announced due date.
As a general rule Blog Posts will be due to be posted by 11:59pm on Tuesdays. Students should then print a hard copy of their post—with the timestamp—and submit the hard copy during class on the following Thursday. All printed blog posts submitted without the timestamp will be considered late and penalized accordingly.
Late posts will be penalized one point per day late. I will not accept posts more than five days late; they will be assigned a grade of zero (0).
Each blog post will be assessed individually, normally during the mid-semester and final portfolio review, according to the following scale:
5 Points—The comment(s) displays an active and critical engagement with the topic with well-chosen and attributed quotes and summaries of the readings and/or class discussion (including previous student comments). The comment is free of sentence level errors and grammatical errors or contains so few that the casual reader does not notice them.
4.5 points—The comment(s) displays an active engagement with the topic with quotes and summaries of the readings and/or class discussion (including previous student comments). The comment might include some sentence level errors and grammatical errors but they are either so infrequent or unimportant that they are barely noticeable.
4 Points—The comment(s) displays adequate engagement with the topic and normally includes at least some summary of the reading and/or a reference to the class discussion (including previous student comments). The comment may contain some sentence-level and grammatical errors but they are not distracting.
3 points—The comment(s) does not display adequate engagement with the topics, often relying on cliché or “common sense” to avoid critically engaging with the ideas. The comment includes distracting sentence-level and grammatical errors.
1-2 points—The comment(s) provides little more than an “I agree,” “I think this is interesting,” or similar off-hand responses that contain little or no thought. The comment is riddled with editing and proofreading errors.
Comments posted late but before class of the week they are due can earn no more than three points. No comments will be accepted or graded after the beginning of class.
Assessment (Paper Assignments)
This course can be used to satisfy part of the general education humanities requirement in the Humanities. As such, the course includes three paper assignments designed for students to develop and demonstrate their ability in the skills identified as part of the humanities area of general education: analysis, interpretation, contextualization, and evaluation.
I will provide more detailed instructions/descriptions of the paper assignments when I assign the papers.
Short Papers (2 @ 15%=30%)
(about 750 words each)
Short Paper #1: Students will identify a representative frame from a film viewed in class and–based upon an analysis of the camera angle, camera distance, lighting, composition, etc.–discuss the frame’s importance in the scene in which it appears and the film as a whole. The first short paper allows students to demonstrate their ability to analyze a frame and interpret it as a part of the larger film.
Short Paper #2: Students will choose a film viewed in class and discuss how and why it fits a specific film genre based upon the characteristics of a chosen genre(s) and using examples from the film. Students might choose to argue that the film is either traditionally categorized in the incorrect film genre or it is a cross-genre film. The second short paper allows students to demonstrate their ability to analyze a film and interpret that film as part of a film genre.
Research Paper (30%)
For Option A, students will choose one of the films viewed in class and discuss its historical and cultural significance. Students will contextualize film as cultural artifact while choosing and evaluating research material in support of their argument. Research Papers that follow the Option A assignment cannor earn higher than a B (85).
For Option B, students will choose one of the films adapted from a book and discuss how that adaptation was managed by the director, especially based upon their historical and cultural significance. Students will contextualize both the novel and the book as cultural artifacts while choosing and evaluating research material in support of their argument.
An “A” paper represents superior academic work. As such, the paper rises substantially above the requirements of the assignments and reflects the effort of a writer intellectually engaged in the subject. The paper establishes an academic voice that clearly articulates its purpose. All claims and assertions are supported with well-considered evidence and logically structured within a deliberate organizational strategy. If there are any errors, they are so infrequent and minor as to be unnoticeable.
B (80-85) to B+ (85-90)
A “B” paper represents accomplished academic work. The paper exceeds the requirements of the assignments and implies a writer who has developed a mastery of the subject. The paper generally establishes a clear and consistent voice in support of its purpose. All claims and assertions are supported with evidence and/or logic and the paper indicates a conscious organizational plan. Any grammar and usage errors are barely noticeable.
C (70-75) to C+ (75-80)
A “C” paper represents competent academic work. The paper meets the requirements of the assignment and reflects the effort of a writer who understands the subject in some depth. The paper generally establishes a voice in support of its purpose. Claims and assertions include some support and evidence and the organization reflects a sense of unity and coherence. There may be some errors in grammar and usage, but they are not distracting.
D (60-65) to D+ (65-70)
A “D” paper represents poor quality academic work. The paper does not meet the requirements of the assignment and reflects the effort of a writer who is either not engaged or has only a superficial understanding of the material. The paper lacks a consistent voice and, as a result, does not articulate a clear and deliberate purpose. Claims and assertions are not supported or include only minimal support. There is not clear organizational strategy and lack unity and coherence. Errors in grammar and usage are distracting.
An “F” paper represents unacceptable academic work. The paper usually fails to meet the requirements of the assignments and generally reflects the effort of a writer either entirely disengaged from or lacking a basic academic understanding of the subject. The purpose and voice of the paper is essentially unidentifiable. Claims and assertions, when they are distinguishable, include little or no evidence. If there is an organizational strategy, it is lost in the incoherence of grammar and usage errors usually found in the paper.
Final Grade: A=90-100, B+=85-90, B=80-85, C+=75-80, C=70-75, D+=65-70, D=60-65, F=60 or less
DEPARTMENTAL AND INSTITUTIONAL POLICIES Revised 8/22/2017
Prerequisites Students must complete both ENGL 101 and 102 with a grade of C or better in order to fulfill USCA general education requirements and before taking other English courses. Any additional course-specific prerequisites will be listed elsewhere on your syllabus.
Attendance Students are obligated for all assigned material whether they are present or not. Punctual and regular attendance is necessary for the successful completion of all courses.
During the fall and spring semesters, a student’s unexcused absences must not exceed twice the number of scheduled class sessions per week. For Macmaster, unexcused absences must not exceed one class session; for summer school, unexcused absences must not exceed fifteen percent of the total number of scheduled class sessions.
There are two possibilities for an excused absence:
- Medical emergency
- Participation in a university-sanctioned activity
Documentation for an excused absence must be provided to the instructor in a timely fashion. For absences of any kind beyond the number allowed by department policy, the student is responsible for providing sufficient justification to the instructor, who will determine if an exception can be made to the accepted policy.
Academic Responsibility The Department of English adheres to the USCA Academic Code of Conduct (see the USCA Student Handbook for a full version).
The following statement should appear on all major examinations and assignments:
On my honor as a USCA student, I have completed my work according to the principle of Academic Integrity.
I have neither given nor received any unauthorized aid on this assignment/examination.
Plagiarism is a failure to acknowledge scholarly indebtedness. The written work offered for evaluation and credit is assumed to be the student’s own unless acknowledged otherwise. Such acknowledgement should occur whenever one quotes another person’s actual words; paraphrases or summarizes another’s ideas, opinions, or theories; and borrows facts, statistics, or other illustrative material, unless the information is common knowledge.
Plagiarism occurs when a student (1) submits words, sentences, ideas, conclusions and/or examples from a source without acknowledging the source and/or (2) submits another person’s work in place of one’s own work. Questions about what constitutes plagiarism, including the submission of papers written for other courses, should be directed to the instructor of record.
Learning Disabilities If you have a physical, psychological, and/or learning disability that might affect your performance in this class, please contact the Office of Disability Services, B&E 134, (803) 643-6815, as soon as possible. The Office of Disability Services will determine appropriate accommodations based on documentation.
The Writing Room USCA provides a Writing Room (H&SS 112) to work with students at any level and in any discipline. The Writing Room is staffed by friendly USCA students who come from a variety of disciplines and who are formally trained to provide constructive feedback during all phases of the writing process. Students are welcome to drop in but appointments are recommended. The Writing Room maintains daytime, evening and weekend hours. Specific hours of operation are posted each semester.
Workshops and Review Sessions Students may be instructed to attend Writing Room workshops or review sessions conducted by professional tutors. Attendance at such activities, which are meant to supplement the educational experience in the classroom, does not necessarily ensure an improved grade; however, failure to follow through on these referrals may have an adverse impact on the course grade.
Writing Proficiency Portfolio Your instructor values good writing in this course. Please remember that the written work that you produce in this class can be included in your writing portfolio to be submitted in your junior year. For further information on the portfolio requirement, please consult the WPP website (accessed from the A-Z index on the USCA homepage) or visit Dr. Matthew Miller, Writing Assessment Director.
Each student is strongly encouraged to purchase a portfolio kit in the USCA Bookstore and to begin building his/her rising junior portfolio for eventual submission during the first semester of his/her junior year.
Classroom Deportment Please be advised that according to university regulations, “it is the instructor’s right to eject from the class any student who disrupts or disturbs the proceeding of the class.” Furthermore, “if the student who has been ejected causes similar disturbances in subsequent meetings of the class, he/she may be denied admittance to the class for the remainder of the semester and assigned a grade of F.”
Portable Electronic Devices The use of any portable electronic devices, including cell phones, pagers, MP3 players, iPods, etc., during class is not allowed for any reason unless prior approval has been given to a student from the instructor or unless required for the course. If you are planning to have any of these devices in class, they must be turned off and stowed away for the duration of the class period.