September 12th, 2007

Today's Handout

Here's what I'm distributing to my English 380 "Literary Analysis" course this afternoon:
Terms To Know For Film Unit
shot (two definitions)
raw footage
stock footage*
24 frames per second
montage (two definitions)
continuity editing vs. discontinuity editing*
establishing shot*
pan vs. tilt
racking focus*
tracking shot
story vs. plot*
diegetic sound vs. non-diegetic sound

taking an inventory
STEP ONE: observation and STEP TWO: analysis
textual evidence
inductive vs. deductive approach*

sine qua non

NOTE: * = Those terms we have yet to cover in class
Several years ago, I added a film unit to this course, which I have taught in all but a few of my semesters at the University of Arizona. Part of the reason is that many of our majors go on to take one or more film-related courses. But I also realized that learning to reflect seriously on film is a great way to improve one's writing. Students who fail to grasp the importance of editing before my film unit come away from it with the understanding that a good paper is rarely written in one piece, from start to finish, but is, rather, the product of a lot of time in the editing suite. It's necessary to rearrange one's material, to labor over the transition between sections and, in most cases, to leave a good deal of content on the cutting room floor. In fact, the analogy I make between filmmaking and paper-writing has proven so helpful that I now begin the course with the film unit. Doing so allows students to focus on classroom time instead of getting overburdened with reading in the hectic first few weeks. And, if all goes well, it also gives them a way to conceptualize the work they'll be doing in the course.