Students beginning their studies in Cinema, Video and Communications arrive well versed in textual analysis, but poorly prepared to verbalize ideas abstracted in audio and visual form. The assignments outlined in this blog portfolio are meant to supply these basic discursive tools in the context of a required, introductory course called Images + Sounds. Subsequent course work in CVC will deliver more specialized writing skills.
Images + Sounds is a first term required course in the CVC profile and offered as an optional course available to students in the CALL program. The course of study introduces students to the language of cinema and provides a brief, schematic history of film with emphasis on the social issues and technical and industrial factors shaping cinematic production over time.
Assignments prepared for this course have been “reverse engineered” and/or presented in a “scaffolded” manner. The goal for students in the course is to communicate effectively about and with audio and visual media.
The portfolio includes three types of assignments, designed to enable students to achieve these goals:
1) Early on in the semester, in conjunction a series of lectures and film screenings following historical changes in cinema production, students write weekly responses to the film material, demonstrating their knowledge of cinematic terms and concepts. These are ‘small stakes’ exercises done in class or for homework and are evaluated on a “+/✓/-“ basis.
2) Overlapping with these response exercises, students are introduced to two production assignments exercising audio and visual expression, to be developed over the course of the term and submitted in two stages. A panoramic picture assignment is due after concepts related to the visual aspects of cinematic production are learned and exercised via written responses. A complementary soundscape is developed as discussions of sound in cinema take place and submitted at the term’s end. Both production assignments ask for a written ‘artist’s statement’, which requires students to verbalize the formal and thematic elements of their work.
3) A ‘scaffolded’ research project comprises the final task in the ‘reverse-engineered’ assignment program. Made up of four separate parts, it includes: i) a blog, providing a site for students to elaborate on the topic they have chosen to research and to gather relevant materials for presentation; ii) an oral presentation, bringing students with common research interests together for the purpose of sharing knowledge between the group and with the class; iii) an annotated bibliography that analyzes relevant literature; and iv) a written film analysis.