That’s a Wrap!

Thanks for the excellent work this semester. It’s been a pleasure exploring these topics with you and watching your writing develop. Have a great break!


Lisa and Harry


Research Tools

This is a quick reminder, as you move from your first draft of the midterm project to a fully developed draft with 3 sources, to make use of the Research Tools section of this website. Let us know if you have any tips as to what we might add to make this section as useful as possible. Best of luck with your revisions!

In-Class Sequence Analysis Feedback

[Note: we have also sent this out to each of you individually as an email. Let us know if you did not receive it.]

We’ve read over your in-class sequence analysis practice and we have a few tips to share as you work on your assignment for Friday. Overall, you did a nice job of picking up on significant elements and themes. Our first bit of advice is to go into detail about the cinematic elements and use the terms from our readings.

An important point to clarify for the course and particularly for Part III: when we ask you to analyze a film, we are not looking for character motivation, or for you to guess the filmmaker’s intention or the audience’s response. We are interested in how the film itself conveys meaning. That may include clues the film gives as to how a viewer might interpret it. The important point is to be focused on what the film itself is doing.

In terms of Part I, remember to use film terms! No need for plot summary. We encourage you to organize your notes on the sequence shot by shot. Even if you don’t end up writing it out that way, please do practice looking for cuts, as we did in class today. Think about what changes from one shot to the next.

For Part II, note that we are still focusing on observations. There is no need to get into deep interpretation here — save it for Part IV! This is a narrative version of what you are seeing in Part I, organized around a few key elements.

Looking forward to reading your assignments!

Week 2 Clips: Melies and Manifestos

Here are the clips we watched in class this week.

Wednesday, 8/30:

To learn a bit more about Melies’s process, specifically his mix of theatrical staging with more overtly cinematic tricks, we watched an excerpt (4:30-5:15 in this link) of Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011):

Friday, 9/1:

We wanted to ground our reading of the provokative manifestos with examples from films made by the authors.

First, we watched the opening 2.5 minutes of Thomas Vinterberg’s Festen (“The Celebration,” 1998) [with apologies for the quality]:

To get a sense of the “fly on the wall” style of cinema verite against which Herzog positions his own work, we watched a bit of D. A. Pennebaker’s Don’t Look Back (1967):

We compared both of these to the opening sequence (0:40-1:52) of Werner Herzog’s Lessons of Darkness (1992) [full film in link, but with German chapter titles]:

And just for fun, in case you are as mesmerized by Herzog’s signature narration style as we are, here’s an excellent spoof (one of many — feel free to journey down that internet wormhole):

Enjoy the long weekend!


Electronics Policy

We have a tech policy! Here’s what we’ve formulated based on our discussion and voting in class on Wednesday. Please familiarize yourselves with the following policies.


Computers and Tablets: These devices may be used during class for a variety of purposes (e.g., note-taking, research, in-class writing). Sound must be turned off at all times to avoid distracting others. Please keep your content PG-13!

Phones: Phones may be used in class for similar purposes to computers and tablets, also without sound. If your phone use is distracting others, you may be asked to put it away. Please use responsibly.

During Screenings: Special rules apply for screenings. If you would like to use a computer, tablet, or phone, please sit at the back of the room and turn the brightness down and volume off.

Note that the misuse of these devices will still hurt your grade. We expect your active attention and participation in class, so please monitor your own use accordingly. This policy is also subject to change if electronics become a serious distraction.


Welcome to R1B: Alternative Realities!

We will be using this site as our primary means of communication outside of class (in addition to email and office hours). You can find information on our class schedule, course goals and policies, and the writing projects we’ll be working on together this semester. Keep checking this space for news and updates.