English 3000: Rhetoric, Memory, and Popular Film is a study of designated special topics in language and literature. (May be repeated for credit as long as the topic is not the same.)
Movies are part of our everyday lives, providing both entertainment and shaping our personal and public memories. As vehicles of memory, films play a powerful role in our visual culture, entertaining, educating, and persuading us about who we are and what we should be. Henry Giroux calls the persuasive power of movies “public pedagogy”: Movies and mass media don’t just reflect culture; they construct it.
The blurring of memory and media representations bring up new questions for us to consider: How do movies shape human memory? How are memories represented in film? And how does film function as memory? How does memory affect the way we see the world and ourselves? How do movies make memory vulnerable to ideological forces at the same time that they invite contestation and revision?
In this course, we will explore these central questions by analyzing and writing about popular fictional films that help us to scrutinize not only what is remembered, but also how it is remembered, by whom, for what purpose, and with what effect. In order to support our investigations, we will read the work of theorists ranging from Kenneth Burke to Michel Foucault in order to illuminate the politics of remembering represented in film. To augment our critical thinking and writing skills, we will also watch and write about a range of popular films. Throughout the course, we will ask how movie memories shape our identities as individuals, community members, and national and global citizens.
You will be encouraged to probe beneath the surface of what is represented onscreen to speculate on not only what these images say but also how they are put together; to locate assumptions, beliefs and values at work in these images; and to explore how these images reflect your own experiences and memories.
In order to explore how rhetoric, media, and the politics of remembering shape our everyday lives, you will articulate how a public memory presented in a particular film shaped your own subjectivity and the communities within which you identify.
Identify a memory represented on screen and how it intersected with or conflicted with your life. Make an argument about the relationship between your life experiences and memories and how the film misrepresented, shaped, supported, or disrupted your experiences.
Your project should be presented as a multigenre or multimodal text, including the use of film clips and/or photographs. You can select any medium or combination of media (print, computer, MP3 files), any combination of modalities (still or moving images, words, sounds, film clips) and any genre you choose (audio memoir, short film, web site, graphic essay, video documentary, or some combination thereof) to make your argument.
You will need to write a short paper (2-3 pages) in which you provide critical insight into the work you created.
1. Discuss the design/production/mode choices you made and how you see these working for the project (or how they might affect a potential audience).
2. Argue/explain and support how the project reflects/challenges/extends some of the ideas about memory, rhetoric, and movies that we focused on in the class.
3. Reflect on the process itself, discussing what challenges you encountered or specific things you learned from the process of multimodal composition.
4. Include Works Cited of all borrowed images, sounds, texts, films, and etc.
The assignment is wide open. Be sure you talk with your classmates and me about your ideas and processes.
GET STARTED NOW!
Audience of undergraduate readers/viewers OUTSIDE of our class.
Burn to CD/Jump drive/Post on YouTube or other site—Present work to class on May 6th.
Email or submit a hard copy of your author’s statement and Works Cited to instructor on May 6th.
Provide copy or access to completed project to instructor on May 6th
Possible publication in TheJUMP: The Journal for Undergraduate Multimedia Projects; Young Scholars in Writing; or Xchanges Online Journal