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Course Information

Instructor Info:Jules Rosskam
Office Extension x5550
Mel Mel Mooring
Katie Huppert
Term: 2013S
Meeting Info: Tuesday
12:30 PM - 03:20 PM Jerome Liebling Center 131
06:30 PM - 09:00 PM Jerome Liebling Center 120

The Greek word Ou topos, means "no place". The English homophone eutopia, derived from the Greek means "good place". In this class we will explore what this no/good place is, how to find it, and most importantly how to envision it. We will read Jose Muoz's Cruising Utopia, as well as Jill Dolan's Utopia in Performance, among others. We will look at various films/videos that attempt to depict this place that is nowhere, that is good, that sings its siren song. Prerequisite: Film I or Video I (or related film/photo/video production course).

During the course of the semester we will create the soundtrack of our utopia; each week we will begin class by listening to a song that may conjure up some utopian feeling; as we listen, we will write responses to the songs and their possible (aural) visions of utopia. Students will post each of these writings on Moodle and will engage with each other's ideas throughout the semester. At the end of the semester students will take their free-writes and turn them into a more polished paper on their own utopian visions. Students will also create artistic experiments in reaction to weekly readings.


Evaluation Criteria:

Attendance and Tardiness

It is mandatory that you show up for class. If you miss more than four classes you will receive a NO EVAL. Being late to class two times (or leaving early) is equal to one absence. You are expected to show up for class not just bodily, but intellectually. Those who attend class but remain non-verbal, semi-comatose, or fully asleep will not be considered in attendance. Presence is mental and emotional, as well as physical.

Study Buddy: Please take it upon yourself to trade email addresses with another person in the class. If you are absent, you should email this person to borrow and copy lecture notes and discuss everything you missed. Although I will be happy to discuss the readings, films and lectures following absences (after you have copied your partner’s notes and discussed the information), I will not be able to review entire class meetings or answer questions such as “what did I miss?”.

Participation and Exchange

This class will rely on students’ intellectual interchange and active participation. Simply discussing your personal opinion is not considered class participation. We will be discussing texts and concepts that will challenge you to think beyond your micro-level experiences.

Participation does not mean you should just talk a lot. In order to be a good "class participant" you should: ask questions of the instructor, your classmates, and yourself; contribute insights about the course material and your classmates' comments; and work to create an environment in which everyone is comfortable contributing. This means saying "I don't get it" when you don't, explaining concepts when you think you do "get it," asking questions, making space and time for your classmates' comments, bringing up examples, theorizing, challenging, and analyzing. If you are having a bad day (and therefore unable or unwilling to engage fully in class), you are required to post your thoughts (minimum two paragraphs) to the “I had a bad day” forum on Moodle by the end of the day.

I believe the open exchange of ideas is extremely important in the classroom. I hope to create a safe learning environment where students can disagree and debate with one another, but still respect each other as classmates and peers. This means that while you may be strongly opposed to an opinion expressed during a discussion or critique, you should never use personal attacks to get your point across. In my classroom I expect students to not only express their ideas, but to genuinely listen to the ideas of others and to offer reasoned responses.


All assignments are due on the date indicated in the syllabus – late work will not be accepted. Should you neglect to complete your experiments, more than two of the weekly free-writes, more than two of the screening responses, your final project, or your final paper you will receive a NO EVAL.

Experiments: Students will create “experiments” in response to readings, staggered throughout the semester. Each week three students will show experiments they have created in response to that weeks reading(s). There are no time limits/requirements, no specific form, medium or genre you must work in. Each student is responsible for two experiments; there will be a sign-up sheet for dates presented at the beginning of the semester.

Screening Response Papers: For every Monday night (or other mandatory) screening, students are required to write a 3-page, double-spaced paper critically reflecting on the films engagement with utopia. Papers should incorporate key themes from the texts we’ve read, where appropriate. Students will be evaluated on their ability to analyze both the content and the aesthetics of the movie. Papers are due the following Monday by 6PM (Moodle).

Final Project: As a class we will determine a theme (related to, of course, utopia), which all final films/videos will revolve around. All films/videos will be able to stand alone, but will also function together as a greater whole. We will have a public screening of all complete works.


There is a considerable amount of reading to be done for this course. You are expected to do all readings, and come to class willing and able to engage critically with each of these texts. While you aren’t required to write response papers, you are required to write three discussion questions for each reading, print them, and bring them to class on the day the readings will be discussed. These papers will be handed in and should contain your full name, the class name, and the name of the reading at the top left-hand corner of the page. Papers without these elements will not be accepted.


Additional Info:

Electronic devices

Use of cell phones, pagers, games, laptops, etc is not permitted in class. If you violate this policy I will ask you to leave, and you will take an absence for the day regardless of how much time you’ve already spent in class.


You will not receive an evaluation from me unless you’ve completed a self-evaluation, DUE 5/3/13. If, at any point during the semester, it becomes certain that you will not receive an evaluation I will inform you. However, you should not hesitate to check in with me about your progress throughout the semester.

You’re in Control

Its up to you to come to class ready and prepared to engage with your classmates on the issue(s) we will be examining. This means that you muse completely the readings and assignments and be active participants in your own education. If you do not participate in class you will NOT PASS this class.

I am available for consultation regarding your progress in the class during scheduled meetings or via email. If you are having problems in the class with attendance, understanding the readings, or completing assignments, please see me immediately. I can be flexible, but it’s up to you to contact me if you are having problems.


The best way to contact me is via email. I hate the phone so please don’t bother leaving me a message because I will not listen to it. The only time to call would be during my office hours, when I will definitely answer the phone. For quickest turnaround, it’s best to email me Tuesday through Thursday.

You may sign up for my office hours on Hampedia, but you are always welcome to drop by and see if I’m free without making an appointment ahead of time. If it is impossible for you to meet during my office hours (that means you have class or you have work) you may email me about setting up an alternative time. 

Required Texts

Cruising Utopia; The Then and There of Queer Futurity, José Esteban Muñoz

Utopia in Performance; Finding Hope in the Theater, Jill Dolan

*Additional readings available on Moodle (you must print these and have in class)

Suggested Text

Participation, Ed. Claire Bishop