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Course Information

Instructor Info:Jules Rosskam
Office Extension x5550
Jack McDermott
Term: 2014S
Meeting Info: Tuesday
12:30 PM - 03:20 PM Jerome Liebling Center 120
07:00 PM - 09:30 PM Jerome Liebling Center 131

According to Timothy Corrigan, the essayistic film “describes the many-layered activities of a personal point of view as a public experience”. In this theory/practice class, we will explore the exciting and ever-impossible-to-define genre of the essay film. Alongside weekly readings and film screenings students will independently produce essay-style films.

Because the essay film has its roots in the literary essay, we will devote a considerable amount of time to writing. Most classes will begin with a writing exercise, followed by a discussion of the writing. Alongside the weekly films we will read both literary and academic essays to further develop our understanding of the various forms the essay takes.

The course will culminate in students producing a 15-minute essay film.

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 and discuss everything you missed. If you are unable to reach a fellow classmate, your next step would be to reach out to the TA. Although I will be happy to discuss the readings, films and lectures following absences, 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 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. If, at any point, you feel uncomfortable with something someone said in class – including myself – I encourage you to address it with the TA, or myself and together we can work to address/resolve the issue.


You will not receive an evaluation from me unless you’ve completed a self-evaluation, DUE 5/2/14. 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.

Additional Info:


All assignments are due on the date indicated in the syllabus – late work will not be accepted. If there is no date next to an assignment, it is due the following Tuesday class. Should you neglect to complete your assignments, more than two of the weekly film responses, or more than two of the in-class screening blog posts, your final project treatment/presentation, or your final film you will receive a NO EVAL. On the first day of class you are given an addendum to this syllabus that further elaborates on all of the assignments. Please reference this sheet as needed.


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/comments for each reading, and post them to Moodle by 6PM the Monday before we discuss them in class. Neglecting to post discussion questions more than twice may result in an automatic NO EVAL. Please bring all readings – printed – to class on the day of discussion. 

Film screening papers, and blog posts

For each film screened during the Monday evening session you are required to write a 3-page (double-spaced) analysis, focusing on formal and aesthetic strategies used in constructing the films central theme(s). You must use specific examples from the film(s) in order to substantiate your claims. If and when it is appropriate, you should also use assigned readings to further support your claims. Papers must be posted to Moodle by the following Sunday at 12PM.

For all films screened in-class, you have the option of writing a blog post. This blog post should be approximately two paragraphs in length, and is a less formal, shortened version of the analytic papers you write for the Monday screenings. You can, but are not required to, comment on your classmates posts as well. This is a good place to demonstrate your engagement with the material if you find it more difficult to do so verbally, in class. 

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. If you need a laptop or other electronic device for note-taking purposes, please speak to me outside of class.

You’re in Control

It’s 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. 

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. 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

The Essay Film, From Montaigne, After Marker, Timothy Corrigan

Course Packet, Duplications