Authors, Audiences and Convergence Culture, Spring 2012

Film 4910, Spring 2012
Tuesdays & Thursdays 2:30-3:45, Classroom South 328

Ted Friedman
Office: 738 One Park Place South

Course Description
Media today are converging, as the boundaries that divide movies, TV, games, phones and the web 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 a capstone project which represents your own engagement with the changing media landscape.

Three books are required for the class:
Marcus Boon, In Praise of Copying (Harvard UP, 2010).
Bill Wasik, And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture (Penguin, 2009).
Kembrew McLeod and Rudolf Kuenzli, eds., Cutting Across Media: Appropriation Art, Interventionist Collage, and Copyright Law (Duke UP, 2011).
In Praise of Copying can be downloaded for free at The other two books can be purchased from, http//,, and other retailers. 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.

Capstone Project
This seminar is structured to support the creation of an individual project (research or creative) dealing with some aspect of authorship, audiences, and/or convergence.  This project may either be a research paper (10-15 pages), a website (15-20 pages), or a fiction/nonfiction video (5-10 minutes), depending on your preference and previous technical experience. (Students will not receive technical training in the details of web design or video production as part of this class.)  The project might include a critical examination of a showrunner or production company; a historical portrait of a particular viewing community; a video mash-up that interrogates Hollywood’s portrayal of fans; and so on. 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.  It is designed as the capstone course for students majoring in Film/Media.  In film/media studies, “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. The emphasis throughout the process of creating the capstone project will be on ensuring that your project achieves your rhetorical ends.  All students, whether they write a paper or do a more “creative” project, must clearly articulate those rhetorical strategies in writing and will revise those strategies based on feedback.  In addition, students will demonstrate their ability to think critically in discussing their peers’ work, evaluating the individual project’s structure and its persuasive impact.


Introducing Convergence Culture

1/10    Introduction

1/12    Read Henry Jenkins, “Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars? Digital Cinema, Media Convergence, and Participatory Culture.”

The Culture of the Copy

1/17    Read Marcus Boon, In Praise of Copying: Introduction, Chapters 1-2

1/19    Read Boon, Chapter 3
Guest lecture #1

1/24    Read Boon, Chapters 4-5

1/26    Read Boon, Chapters 6-7, Conclusion
Guest lecture #2
Project proposal due


1/31    Read Bill Wasik, And Then There’s This: Introduction, Chapter 1
Reading presentation
Meme reports

2/2    Read Wasik, Chapter 2
Guest lecture #3
Reading presentation

2/7    Read Wasik, Chapters 3-4
Reading presentation
Meme reports

2/9    Read Wasik, Chapter 5, Conclusion
Reading presentation
Meme reports
Project structure due

Cutting Across Media I

2/14    Read McLeod & Kuenzli, eds., Cutting Across Media, pp. 1-56.
Reading presentation
Auteur & audience presentation

2/16    Read Cutting 57-83.
Reading presentation
Auteur & audience presentation

2/21    Read Cutting 84-131.
Reading presentation
Auteur & audience presentation

2/23    Read Cutting 132-177.
Reading presentation
Auteur & audience presentation
Revised project structure due

2/28    Spring Break

3/1    Spring Break

Project Workshop I

3/6    Project structure & segment presentations

3/8    Project structure & segment presentations

3/13    Project structure & segment presentations

3/15    Project structure & segment presentations

3/20    Project structure & segment presentations

Cutting Across Media II

3/22    Read Cutting 178-218.
Reading presentation
Auteur & audience presentation

3/27    Read Cutting 219-251.
Reading presentation
Auteur & audience presentation

3/29    Read Cutting 252-289.
Reading presentation
Auteur & audience presentation

4/3    Read Cutting 290-326.
Reading presentation
Auteur & audience presentation

Project Workshop II

4/5    Final project presentations

4/10    Final project presentations

4/12    Final project presentations

4/17    Final project presentations

4/19    Final project presentations

Final project due April 26


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

I. Capstone Project

Project Proposal – 10 points
You will begin your work on your project with 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 January 26.

Project Structure – 30 points
After collecting the materials for your paper/website/video, you will create a document in two parts. Part 1 will differ based on the type of project.  A nonfiction video project will present a segmentation, dividing the project into sections and noting the persuasive function of each.  A fiction video student will create a full script.  Students preparing a research paper will write an expanded outline for the paper as a whole.  Those creating websites will create an expanded site map. No matter what your project, Part 2 will be a 3-5 page paper in which you articulate the rhetorical/aesthetic decisions made in designing the project and justifying those decisions in terms of the intended argument/meaning. The project structure is due February 9. After meeting for individual feedback, you will then revise the project structure paper and submit this version on February 23 for a final grade.

Project Structure & Segment Presentation – 5 points
Each student will present a short segment of his/her project to the class during the period from March 6-20, along with the revised version of the project structure.  Video students will present a 3 minute edited segment of their project.  Those creating websites will present a sample module from the site.  Those writing papers will present the first half of the paper to be read by the students.  Each student will provide feedback on how effective the project sample is in making its argument and achieving its goal (articulated in the written project structure). Students make suggestions on how the final project may be improved.

Final Project Presentation – 5 points
After incorporating the class’s feedback from your first presentation and completing your project, you will present a final version to the class at the end of the semester, during the period from April 5-19.

Final Project – 30 points
After incorporating further class feedback and polishing any rough edges, the final version of the capstone project is due on April 26.

II. Other Assignments

Reading Presentation – 10 points
With a partner, you will sign up to lead one class discussion of the assigned reading. It is not necessary to summarize the entire reading. Instead, each presenter should pick one key text analysed in one of the readings, such as a song, video, or artwork. Research the original, present a sample clip in class, then discuss how the reading inteprets the text and what your assessment is of that interpretation.

Auteur & Audience Presentation or Meme Report – 10 points
You will also sign up to present on one of three topics: a contemporary auteur, that auteur’s audience, or a meme.

The subject of an Auteur & Audience presentation could be a film director, TV showrunner, game designer, comic book writer and/or artist, media mogul, or other creative figure. The first presenter will introduce the auteur, show examples of signature work, and specifically discuss the auteur’s perspective on her/his audience. Incorporate interview clips from YouTube, DVD features, and other sources if possible. The second presenter will focus on the auteur’s audience, surveying the auteur’s critical reception, fans and anti-fans. Show examples of the most popular and influential fan videos. Drawing on class readings, discuss how user-generated content engages, critiques, and builds upon the auteur’s original texts.

The first eight people to claim an auteur have first dibs. After that, you can choose to either partner up with one of the auteur presenters, or instead give a meme report. To pick a meme, go to Choose one you’d like to discuss in the class.  Read the writeup and comments, screen all linked videos, and follow up on all external links. Then look up the meme at Check for any additional or conflicting information, then click on the Discussion tab and review the contributors’ discusion. For the presentation, show the class the “original” version of the meme, then the most interesting variations. Drawing on your research, discuss how the meme spread, and how it has influenced subsequent memes. Then, to begin the class discussion, share your thoughts as to why this particular meme went viral and what its story might tell us about convergence culture.

III. Attendance Adjustment
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 for 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
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.

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