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Assignments

Ten Discussion Board Posts on the CUNY Academic Commons 15%

Over the course of the semester, each student will write 10 posts to our discussion board. These weekly (more or less) posts should be 300-500 words long, posted prior to our zoom meeting time, and they should constitute considered responses to at least two of the texts for that meeting (films and/or readings). These responses are meant to be open-ended and exploratory, so while they will not be individually graded or marked in a traditional way, they should not merely summarize the films or readings, but critically analyze their cinematic strategies or engage with their primary arguments. You are encouraged to identify important historical or methodological questions raised by the readings and assess their respective strengths and weaknesses. We will use these posts as a way to jump start our discussion on zoom, so you should all take some time before our class meeting time to read through some or all of the week’s discussion board posts. Please also keep track of your own completion of these, and do not put them off; you may submit only one per week.

Our Commons page is enabled with Hypothesis, a collaborative annotation tool that we will use to annotate materials stored on our course page (such as pdf readings and weekly discussion board posts). You will each need to create an account with Hypothesis and then you’ll be able to use the annotation bar that opens on the right hand side of our Commons pages (it is not active on the course homepage). We will refer to notes in Hypothesis during our zoom discussions, and please feel free to highlight and post responses to it as you complete readings prior to class. Doing this will help you as you write your weekly informal responses. Please be mindful and respectful in any instances of online interaction in this course.

Midterm Paper 20%

Each student will complete a midterm paper of 5-7 pages which will focus on the films and readings from our first 8 weeks and will be due to our course Blackboard page before class time on Tuesday October 27. (How to submit your paper to BB). In this paper, you’ll put into dialogue two or more of the course readings, films, or readings and films together. For instance: you might explain and analyze Tom Gunning’s ideas about the “cinema of attractions” in reference to one or two of the films assigned and discussed in class. Are there ways you would complicate his claims in light of these films? You may choose any of the readings or films viewed up until the midterm point. In the Blackboard assignment area for this paper, you’ll find two sample student essays.

Research Project Proposal 65%

The semester will culminate not in a traditional seminar paper, but in a research project proposal of 17-20 pages. The topic for this project is up to you. You may choose to focus on a topic we discuss in class or you may branch off into an area of film history we do not cover. The project will require submitting a preliminary plan. Your plan should include: a brief description of your proposed research topic, identifying succinctly what key question or problem in film history you plan to focus on and how you plan to investigate it. This plan must be accompanied by a brief annotated bibliography listing a few of your primary and secondary sources (1-2 pages). This short plan is due via Blackboard on Monday November 9th (How to submit your work to BB). In the Blackboard assignment area for this paper, you’ll find one sample project.

The final version, submitted to Blackboard anytime on Tuesday December 18, will include the following sections:

      1. a section (5-6 pages) outlining in detail the focus of your inquiry, your goal in proposing the project, its significance within the field of film history/historiography, and how it relates or makes an original contribution to the existing literature.
      2. a literature review (3-4 pages)
      3. a section (6-7 pages) describing your proposed methodology—i.e. how you plan to go about the research, itemizing the kind of materials with which you will be working as well as some of your preliminary analyses of those materials, the interpretative approach you will take, and the theoretical frameworks that will inform your approach.
      4. an extended, annotated bibliography (3-4 pages) listing key primary and secondary sources and how each contributes to your research proposal
      5. a 5-8 minute presentation of your proposal to the class on our final Zoom meeting date (this will not be turned into BB)

It is important to keep in mind that is a proposal for research rather than a research paper itself. You should concentrate on formulating a research agenda, emphasizing the primary quandaries and questions you want to explore.