Senior Seminar: Convergence Culture
Film 4910, Fall 2013
Tuesdays & Thursdays 2:30-3:45, Langdale 325
Office: 25 Park Place #1017
Media today are converging, as the boundaries that divide movies, TV, games, computers and phones blur. Likewise, the familiar categories of producer and consumer intermingle in Web 2.0 practices such as blogging, vidding, modding and tweeting. This senior seminar will examine the shifting roles of creators and audiences across a range of media practices, culminating in a capstone project that represents your own engagement with the changing media landscape.
Two books are required for the class:
- Marcus Boon, In Praise of Copying (Harvard UP, 2010).
- Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green, Spreadable Media (NYU Press, 2013).
In Praise of Copying can be downloaded for free at http://www.hup.harvard.edu/features/boon/. Spreadable Media can be purchased online from http://amazon.com, http://bn.com, or http://powells.com, or ordered from the campus bookstore. Other assigned readings are available online at the URLs listed below. Supplementary links to media news and criticism will be distributed via the class Twitter hashtag #sensem.
This seminar is structured to support the creation of an individual project (research or creative) addressing some aspect of authorship, audiences, and/or convergence. This project may either be a research paper (10-15 pages), a website (15-20 pages), a fiction/nonfiction video (5-10 minutes), a comic book (24 pages), or a game (a board game with cards and rules, or a computer game), depending on your preference and previous technical experience. (Students will not receive technical training in the details of video production or multimedia development as part of this class. Support is available through the GSU Digital Aquarium, http://www.gsu.edu/aquarium/.) The final submitted project will be the culmination of a series of assignments, as described below.
Critical Thinking through Writing
This course is a designated Critical Thinking through Writing (CTW) course. In film, “critical thinking” is defined as identifying, analyzing, and evaluating arguments and truth claims; and formulating and presenting convincing reasons in support of conclusions.
“Writing” refers to the skill of writing clear, well-organized, and grammatically correct English prose.
Introducing Convergence Culture
In-class screening: Star Wars fan films
8/29 Read Henry Jenkins, “Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars? Digital Cinema,
Media Convergence, and Participatory Culture,” Convergence Culture (NYU Press, 2006): http://web.mit.edu/cms/People/henry3/starwars.html
Read Chris Anderson, “The Long Tail,” Wired, December 2004:
In-class screening: Barbie Nation
The Culture of the Copy
9/3 Read Marcus Boon, In Praise of Copying, Introduction, Chapter 1
In-class screening: Rip! A Remix Manifesto
9/5 Read Boon, Chapters 2-3
9/10 Read Boon, Chapters 4-6
In-class screening: Exit through the Gift Shop
Project Proposal due
9/12 Read Boon, Chapter 7, Conclusion
How Media Spreads
9/17 Read Jenkins et al, Spreadable Media, Introduction, Chapter 1
In-class screening: memes
9/19 Read Spreadable Media, Chapter 2
9/24 Read Spreadable Media, Chapter 3
Project Structure draft due
9/26 Read Spreadable Media, Chapter 4
10/1 Source/Influence Presentations
10/3 Source/Influence Presentations
10/8 Source/Influence Presentations
Project Structure final draft due
10/10 Source/Influence Presentations
10/15 Source/Influence Presentations
10/17 Source/Influence Presentations
10/22 Proposal Workshops
10/24 Proposal Workshops
10/29 Proposal Workshops
10/31 Proposal Workshops
11/5 Proposal Workshops
11/7 Proposal Workshops
Designing for Spreadability
11/12 Read Spreadable Media, Chapters 5-6
In-class screening: Copyright Criminals
11/14 Read Spreadable Media, Chapter 7, Conclusion
Final Project Presentations
11/19 Final Project Presentations
11/21 Final Project Presentations
Thanksgiving Break – No classes on 11/26 &11/28
12/3 Final Project Presentations
12/5 Final Project Presentations
Final project due December 12
The class assignments add up to total of 100 possible points. Your final grade for the class is determined by adding up your grades for each assignment, adjusting for attendance, then applying the final number to the following scale:
A 100-93 B+ 89-88 C+ 79-78 D 70-65
A- 92-90 B 87-83 C 77-73 F 64-0
B- 82-80 C- 72-70
Project Proposal – 10 points
Write a 2-3 page proposal. Students creating research papers, nonfiction videos, or websites will detail the questions to be investigated and the sources they will use (including bibliography). Those creating fiction videos will present a story synopsis and a statement of their project’s intended meaning/purpose. The proposal is due in class on September 10.
Source/Influence Presentation – 10 points
Pick one or more texts that you expect to engage in your project. These may be sources you plan to write about, clips you plan to sample, or models for your own creative work. Present to the class (10-15 minutes) the background and context for the sources or influences, discussing how you plan to engage them in your own project. Presentations will be scheduled from October 1-17.
Project Structure – 30 points
Write a 6-10 page document including the following segments:
I. Outline or script: 3-5 pages, form depending on project. An essay project should include an expanded outline. A nonfiction video project should include a detailed segmentation breaking down scenes. A fiction video project or comic book should include a full script. A website project should include a site map.
- Plan: 3-5 pages. You will answer a series of questions to flesh out your goals and strategies for the project. (More information to follow on a separate handout.)
A rough draft of the Project Structure is due in class on September 24. After meetings to discuss revisions, the final version is due in class October 8.
Proposal Workshop – 10 points
Present your work in progress to the class. Workshops will be scheduled from October 22-November 7.
Final Project Presentation – 10 points
After incorporating the class’s feedback from the Proposal Workshop, you will present a final version to the class at the end of the semester, November 19-December 5.
Final Project – 30 points
After incorporating further class feedback and polishing any rough edges, the final version of the capstone project is due on December 12.
As Woody Allen put it, “80 percent of success is showing up.” It’s less than that in this formula, but the bottom line is that you can’t contribute to the class if you’re not there. You’re allowed one unexcused absence for the semester. After that, each unexcused absence subtracts one point from your grade total. Excused absences include medical and family emergencies. You will be expected to schedule any employment responsibilities around this class, or accept the consequences of missed classes on your grade. If you do need to miss a class, please contact me ahead of time, and make arrangements to catch up on missed material.
Late assignments will be marked off by ½ point for every day overdue unless an extension is agreed upon before the due date. No work can be accepted after the deadline for the final project. Any unsubmitted work will receive a 0.
Students withdrawing on or before the midsemester point will receive a W provided they are passing the course. Students who withdraw after the midsemester point will not be eligible for a W except in cases of hardship. If you withdraw after the midsemester point, you will be assigned a WF, except in those cases in which (1) hardship status is determined by the Office of the Dean of Students because of emergency, employment, or health reasons, and (2) you are passing the course.
Incompletes may be given only in special hardship cases. Incompletes will not be used merely for extending the time for completion of course requirements.
Changes to the Syllabus
This syllabus provides a general plan for the course. Deviations may be necessary.