Film and Media Studies
Film and Media Studies Course Syllabus
Introduction: Media in all of its forms is a primary source of information for young people today. Understanding this and thinking critically about media messages are essential skills in an information-based society such as ours. This class, a semester-long course that provides .5 English credit for seniors only, serves as an introduction to the critical study of media and its influence on society. Students come to a more robust understanding of the role that media plays in the construction of our identities and our worlds through the reading of both fiction and non-fiction texts, the viewing of documentaries based around the media, the writing of research papers, literary analysis and synthesis papers, reflective papers and creative works, and the creation of their own media message.
Our exploration of the role of media in our society is thematically based on the following essential questions:
1.What is the power that narrative has in the construction of reality?
- How does the media work to produce a fixed amount of limited identities?
- How does the media produce consumers?
- How does the media present a constructed idea of normalcy and privacy?
- How can I construct my own media messages to be able to converse in the language of the image in the 21st century?
In order to explore these and other questions, students engage in the following readings, writings, viewings, and projects:
Unit One: The Power of Narrative
In this introductory unit, students read, write, and research the dominant storytellers of our time. They read excerpts from Winning The Story Wars: Why Those who Tell (and live) the Best Stories Will Win the Future (Sachs) as well as sections of Media Making: Mass Media in a Popular Culture. They also write a fully annotated research paper using MLA format with in-text citation and a correctly formatted works cited page researching why one of the 100 most successful advertising campaigns of all time was that successful. Finally, students also discuss how to test the reliability of electronic sources of information and traditional print sources.
Grossberg, Lawrence, Ellen A. Wartella,, Dr. D. Charles Whitney, and Dr. J. Macgregor
Wise. Media Making: Mass Media in a Popular Culture. Thousand Oaks, CA:
Sage Publications, 2005. Students read the Introduction and Chapter Eight
Sachs, Jonah. Winning the Story Wars Why those who Tell (and live) the Best Stories Will Rule the Future. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press, 2012.
Viewing Assignment: Multiple advertisements
Writing Assignment: Research paper formatted in MLA including in-text citations and a works cited page
Unit Two: Making Sense in the Media—An Overview of Ideology
During this unit, students read, write, and respond to the book, Regarding the Pain of Others, a non-fiction book by Susan Sontag that explores the role of media in desensitizing others' reactions to pain. They also view a film and read a chapter of Media Making: Mass Media in a Popular Culture. The final assessment for the unit is a presentation researching a historical photograph.
Grossberg, Lawrence, Ellen A Wartella, Dr. D. Charles Whitney and J. Macgregor
Wise. Chapter Seven: Ideology in Media Making: Mass Media and Popular Culture. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc., 2006.
Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Writing Assignment: Photo Essay
Unit Three: The Power of the Media: Constructing Reality and Ideas of Normalcy
Over the course of this unit, students will read 1984 by George Orwell. Students discuss, write about, and respond to the themes of the novel. Students also will begin to learn the basic building blocks of film making, the power of symbolism in film (including the dangers of relying on stereotypes in film) and will prepare to make their final film for the class.
Orwell, George. 1984. New York, NY: Harcort Brace Jovanovich, 1949.
Postman, Neil. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show
Business. New York, NY: Viking Penguin, 1985.
The Truman Show
Unit Four: Entering the Conversation: Producing Your Own Media Message
This unit is the culminating unit for the semester. Students review and synthesize the information presented in the course by creating and presenting their own film presentations as a summative assessment of what they have learned over the past fifteen weeks.
Project Assignment: Students create a film where they synthesize several different ideas covered in the course into a media message of their own creation. This final project can count for a graduation project and is the final exam for the class.
This class is graded on a “points” basis. You accrue points based on the sophistication of your work, your discussion, and your completion of exercises. Most of the work in class is in the form of projects, but there will be at least one major writing assignment each quarter, and there will be small reading and discussion assignments as well. The more you engage and are prepared for class, the more you learn about these fascinating topics. Also, engagement and the quality of discussion will be used to help determine borderline grades.
** PLEASE NOTE: IF YOU HAVE COMPLETED ALL THE REQUIRED PRE-WRITING, AND THE PAPER IS COMPLETE AND TURNED IN ON-TIME, MAJOR PAPERS CAN BE REWRITTEN AS MANY TIMES AS NECESSARY TO EARN THE DESIRED GRADE, up to the week before the end of the marking period. Isn’t that amazing? That means that you can honestly earn whatever grade you desire on those major writing assignments, as long as you are willing to work for it.
All High School Policies:
Here are several policies and procedures that the administration has asked us to include in all syllabi this year.
- Student Make Up Work Procedure
In the event that a student is absent from class unexpectedly, the student will make arrangements to submit his/her work, take a test/quiz, and get assignments that were missed.
- It is the student’s responsibility to check the teacher’s Canvas page and / or contact the teacher for work.
- Students are expected to make up all work missed within a time period not to exceed the total number of class days absent.
- Students are strongly encouraged to make up missed work and keep up with assignments while they are out.
- Extensions may be given at the discretion of the classroom teacher.
If a student cuts class and is unaccounted for in the attendance system, s/he cannot earn higher than half of the credit that was earned for the assignment. The assignment/assessment is due the class period that the student returns to class.
- Late Work
It is the expectation that all students will turn in assignments on the given due date. Late work is an assignment not turned in by the established due date/class period. Students have up to three class periods past the due date to turn in a late assignment. Ten percent will be deducted for each class period that the assignment is late. A student who turns in the assignment more than three class periods past the due date will receive half of the credit that they earned on the assignment. In order to receive credit for late work a student must turn in any late work by the end of the unit.
- ACADEMIC INTEGRITY (directly from the student handbook)
Plagiarism is defined as the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work. Intentional plagiarism occurs when a student knowingly submits someone else’s words or ideas as if they were his/her own. Unintentional plagiarism occurs when writers and researchers use the words or ideas of others but fail to quote or give credit (perhaps because they don't know how). When in doubt, students must check with a teacher or librarian.
Examples of plagiarism may include but are not limited to:
1) purchasing or copying work produced by others (homework, reports, take home exams, tests, research papers, music, art, images, etc.)
2) direct copying (“cutting and pasting”) of selected sections (words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs) from another source without quotation marks and/or documentation.
3) paraphrasing, summarizing, or otherwise rewording another’s original work that is not common knowledge without documentation.
4) failing to document the use of charts, graphs, diagrams, statistics, or other materials not created or compiled by the student.
5) working together on an independent assignment and then submitting individual copies of the assignment as one’s own individual work.
6) fabricating data or in any way falsifying the results of an experiment or inquiry process.
Cheating includes, but is not limited to, a student copying an assignment or test and submitting it as his/her own; allowing someone to copy an assignment or test and submit it as his/her own; unauthorized use of or communicating with notes, calculators, computers, textbooks, websites, cell phones, etc. during an exam or project; telling other students what is on a test or quiz or providing specific questions or answers before or after the test.
**The consequences for these infractions are detailed in the student handbook. Please, if you are in a bind, unsure of what to do, or need help in anyway TALK TO ME BEFORE YOU CHEAT. I can always answer any question you have, give you an extension, or negotiate with you about the assignment.
A PERSONAL NOTE FROM Ms. Nasatka…
I want to propose a mindset for this year, one that has helped me a great deal in my own growth to become an interesting and interested person. The mindset is one of open inquiry and trust, where we see every activity as a place for learning to happen if we make it happen. In other words, every activity you engage in can be made meaningful or it can be made into busy work, depending on your desire to learn from the activity. On my part, I want to make you a promise not to assign work that I see as having little ability to help your reading, writing, understanding, and critical literacy skills. You’ll have to trust that I won’t give you busy work and you will have to agree not to treat potentially meaningful activities as such.
I am also committed to the idea of “teaching up,” which means that I will set high standards for academic success, and make sure that you are personally supported in ways that makes it possible (if you provide the hard work) to reach a level of excellence in your understandings and writings.
Finally, I want all of you to know that I am unconditionally dedicated to your success. I am in your corner, and I try as hard as I can to put what is best for you at the forefront of my thinking at all times. But most of the responsibility for success rests on your shoulders. Carry it well.