Moving-image media are compelling sites of cultural work. Writing about motion pictures poses peculiar challenges – and offers distinct pleasures – for students in disciplines across the university. Yet it is unusual for a course that analyzes the moving image to teach students how to do so with clarity and confidence. What vocabularies do students writing about film, television, YouTube, or TikTok need to know? How do we engage texts in these mediums on their own terms, as visual objects of analysis? How do we do so in a way that is academically rigorous, drawing on scholarly interlocutors to contribute to a broader intellectual conversation? This writing-intensive course uses weekly writing assignments of 750 to 2000 words as a space to explore and find answers to these questions, each of which corresponds to a type of essay we will read and write together. As a community of practice, we start by engaging in real conversations about the challenges of academic writing, including time management and how to confront writer’s block. From here, the course moves to identifying the specific skills and processes that facilitate positive – even pleasurable – academic writing experiences.
Students must have completed R1A and R1B to enroll in this course. We welcome sophomore, junior, and senior students from any major who have a special interest in writing about the moving image. Students in Film & Media who wish to write an honors thesis should take this course followed by Film & Media 194: Advanced Film Writing. If it is not obvious from all I’ve said below about the types of writing we will develop here, let me say it plainly now: this course is not a screenwriting class. It is an academic writing class.