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TEL 420 Electronic media criticism Spring 2009. Bulletin description Examination of each of several critical theories and approaches to the criticism.

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Presentation on theme: "TEL 420 Electronic media criticism Spring 2009. Bulletin description Examination of each of several critical theories and approaches to the criticism."— Presentation transcript:

1 TEL 420 Electronic media criticism Spring 2009

2 Bulletin description Examination of each of several critical theories and approaches to the criticism of telecommunications program content. Practical experience in evaluating critical writing and in the writing of critical pieces. Prereq: Telecom major status or consent of instructor.

3 Three main foci Construction of narratives – Telling stories in electronic media Production of media content (texts) – What goes into film, television, videogame production Social critique of media texts – Analysis of the quality, morality, ideology of media content

4 Why? This course will help you as a producer and/or as a consumer of popular culture – Electronic texts are all around us – We tend to take them at face value We have ‘overlearned’ the language of electronic representation – Even so, they affect us in important ways I’m not an alarmist, but we should recognize that electronic narratives have effects we don’t recognize as well as those that we do

5 How? First we’ll look at the components that make up narratives and how we experience them in film, television and videogame texts – Stories – Characters – Settings – Plots – Action – Myth

6 Then we’ll take a quick look at how the texts are produced – Cinematography – Sound – Mise-en-scene – Editing – Shots/scenes/episodes – Lighting

7 Finally, we’ll review some of the social implications of the narratives/texts commonly found in film, on television, and in video games – Class – Race – Gender – Morality – Sexuality

8 How will we tackle these tasks? Readings – The readings are moderate in amount and mostly quite readable Some of this stuff can be absolutely impenetrable I needed to find content you could understand without prior classwork in this area but that was not at a grade-school level I tried to mix theory with application You’ll get more out of the class if you start reading film, tv and videogame criticism in the popular media I provide some recommended readings and point to some good sources for additional information

9 Assignments – Assignments are a mix of short quizzes on Blackboard and simple analyses of electronic texts to be discussed in class For example, I may ask you to watch the presentation of Arabs in 24 one week and apply the readings to what you see

10 A midterm – Mostly based on your understanding of concepts, vocabulary, and basic theory about our topics

11 An in-class presentation – Each of you will present to the class your interpretation of how a week’s topic applies to some electronic text More on that later, but you should know that you will need to propose your topic to me and get feedback prior to your presentation

12 The final test – This will be a combination of demonstrating that you have picked up the content from the post- midterm readings and that you can apply the semester’s theoretical content to specific examples of electronic narrative I’ll show examples at the time of the test and you will be expected to be able to identify how our semester content applies to the clips

13 The final project – Each of you will pick a topic you want to explore more deeply than the once-over in class allows. You’ll get the okay to go forward with your topic and will keep me updated on how you are progressing, getting your basic outline okayed, etc. during the semester. You will provide a paper on your topic and will share the knowledge you have gained (in greatly abbreviated form) in a second in-class presentation at the end of the semester.

14 Out-of-class assignments In order to be on the same page, I’ll be requiring you to watch some films, television shows, documentaries and perhaps watch some folks playing video games. This will require some out of class time but is necessary to see that we can have intelligent discussions of various texts. I’ll make the content available to you so that you won’t be required to catch a single showing of something—which might be a problem if you have to be at work at a given time, etc. Much of the content will be available online.

15 Grades In general, if you do the work, you’ll do fine as far as grades are concerned. If you are doing the readings, coming to class, etc. and aren’t getting the ideas, please see me during office hours or set up a meeting.

16 So, to get started: Narratives are, generally speaking, stories. – There’s a whole area of study around narratives and some of the folks who specialize in that area would not want such a simplistic definition, but it will serve us okay in this class.

17 Narrative What are the important features of narrative? – Time What happens in narratives is ordered in time Though there may be flashbacks, flashforwards, parallel activity occurring simultaneously, etc. the basic structure of narrative is of linear time with a series of events occurring – Characters Narratives usually center on some person or persons doing things or having things happen to them

18 Narrative Important features of narrative – Causality The events, actions, etc. are thought to be related, with earlier ones causing later ones – Setting The actions take place somewhere – Plot The actions that are included and their causal relations – Structure There are common ways that the features above are structured – These vary by the type of narrative and the media by which the narrative are disseminated

19 Why focus on narrative? Narratives are extremely common – The great majority of texts you are exposed to through electronic media present narrative content – People tend to construct their communications in narrative form What did you do last night? – A list? – A story? – Narratives are more interesting and satisfying than other forms of presentation

20 Narrative effects Even though most narratives are constructed for enjoyment/amusement, they have been demonstrated to be persuasive and educational. – People tell stories as a way of arguing their point – Stories are memorable and therefore are brought to mind when we need to make decisions, evaluate alternatives, etc. – People don’t recognize narratives as acts of persuasion and so often do not critically analyze them the way they do arguments, etc.

21 Narratives in electronic media The great majority of fictional content is narrative in nature – Think about the structure of primetime fiction, film fiction, etc. – Videogames? Much of, if not the majority of, non-fiction is narrative in nature, as well – ‘Reality TV’ – News ‘stories’ – Commercial ‘mini-narratives’

22 Artistry Much of the artistry of electronic media is in the construction of compelling and entertaining narratives – Scriptwriting – Direction – Acting – Cinematography – Sound design – Special effects – Etc.

23 So let’s take a first look: The Internet Archive has lots of video, especially old movies, TV and cartoons


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