SBLUESTONE.COM  
Professor Stephen Bluestone
Office: 110B Ware Hall | Telephone: 478-301-4010 | email: bluestone_se@mercer.edu
Office Hours: 9:30-10:40 a.m. (T/Th) and by appointment
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Fall 2008
 
English 237
 
Literature and Film
Does a film tell the same story as a novel or a play? How are meanings on screen different from meanings on the page?   In this course we’ll study three novels and a play by Shakespeare that approach storytelling in different ways.  Each of these works raises questions about symbolism, myth, narrative structure, point of view, genre, and realism. Film adaptations of these works will then be studied as a means of understanding what, if anything, cinema and written literature have in common.

Schedule  *  Library Reserve List  *  Class Album

 
Texts
 
Marshall, Walkabout
Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
Giannetti, Understanding Movies
Shakespeare, Hamlet
Hammett, The Maltese Falcon
Fowler & Aaron, The Little, Brown Handbook

Recommendation: a subscription to Netflix. Another option: individual purchase of the DVDs of all films on the syllabus. The one exception is LET THE DEVIL WEAR BLACK. This DVD is not available for rental or purchase.

 
 

COURSE GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS

Does a film tell the same story as a novel or a play? How are meanings on screen different from meanings on the page? Is print literacy different from film literacy? In this course we’ll study three novels and a play by Shakespeare that approach storytelling in different ways. Each of these works raises questions about symbolism, myth, narrative structure, point of view, genre, and realism. Film adaptations of these works will then be studied as a means of understanding what, if anything, cinema and written literature have in common. We’ll begin with a look at Orson Welles's masterpiece Citizen Kane (1941); our introduction to this classic will provide us with a vocabulary for the discussion of subsequent films.

1. Participation and attendance (10%). Students are expected to attend every class and actively contribute to discussion. There are no unexcused absences, and I should be notified in advance if an absence is unavoidable. Call my office or let me know by e-mail if you cannot attend a class.

Class contribution takes several forms. Students may ask questions at any point during a class; students and teacher may engage in question-and-answer dialogue; the class as a whole may engage in open discussion, sharing ideas and attempting as a group to deepen its understanding of the material. Students should work at participating effectively in all these formats. Class participation will be evaluated on the basis of evidence of preparation and thoughtfulness about the material. The most important criterion, in my view, is whether one’s contribution to class discussion contributes to the learning of others, including myself. I encourage students who are willing to disagree, to share their opinions, and to back them up. I like vigorous and civilized discussion.

From time to time out-of-class screenings will be scheduled as needed. Advance notice will be given, and attendance will be required.

2. Quizzes and exams (30%). Quizzes and exams on the reading assignments will be given on the class day on which reading assignments are to be completed. These quizzes and exams will be factual, not interpretive, and will be considered indications of preparation for class. There will be quizzes on Giannetti (chapters 1-5) and the fiction and drama readings. Note also that the use of Giannetti will be required as a basis for a film-literate vocabulary on all papers. Students in this course are expected to read Giannetti (as assigned) in conjunction with class discussions.

3. Written work (60%). Two critical papers involving research will be assigned on themes and topics to be discussed; the length of the first paper will be approximately five pages, the length of the second paper between eight and ten pages. Both papers  will involve research (the use of at least two off-line sources other than the primary works discussed). The due date of the final paper will be the final exam date of the course. These papers are to be well organized and thoroughly proofread.

In these papers the format of the first sample student paper in The Little, Brown Handbook in the chapter entitled “Two Research Papers in the MLA Style,” is to be followed; bibliographic and “Works Cited” formats are to be found in the chapter entitled “Using MLA Documentation and Format.” Any paper that has not been spell-checked or does not follow the assigned formats will receive an automatic “F.” No exceptions. All corrections and editorial changes indicated by the instructor must be made before the next paper is submitted, otherwise the grade on the following paper will be "F." I call this the “Magic Check” process. Again, no exceptions.

When the second paper is submitted, it must be accompanied in a plain tab folder by the first paper. A third, optional paper may also be done. I will discuss the dates for this with the class. When the optional paper is submitted, it, too, must be accompanied in the folder by previous work. All papers are due at the start of class from the author on the specified due date; papers not handed in on time will be penalized one letter grade per day.

4. Overall grading philosophy. Grades on papers, quizzes, and participation will not be strictly averaged; much weight will be given to improvement. Each student's work will be assessed on an individual basis, with emphasis on consistency and the ability to achieve higher standards as the course proceeds. This is called “outcome grading.” I regard it as a truer measure of student learning than the averaging method. It isn’t as tidy, but it’s more individual and more closely reflects the learning curve in a course. In my experience, this method achieves more accurate results than the traditional averaging method.

In addition to the assigned work, each student may do extra assignments based on the course reading, campus events (films, plays, etc.), as well as outside reading. This work will be read and graded and included in the above-mentioned folder. Thus, much work in this class may well be individually generated. I call this process making the case for the “A.”

Note: the averaging method may be elected by a student if that student so chooses; this must be done at the start of the course. Notify me within a week of the start of the semester. After one week, there can be no changes in the grading system.

Further note: it is course policy that all assigned work (papers, quizzes, exams, etc.) must be completed in order for a student to pass the course.

One more note: An optional final exam is available for those who select it. In my opinion, only those students who feel they are between grades should select this option. The grade on this exam will be used to determine which of two grades (higher or lower) the student will receive.

5. The Mercer Honor Code is in effect at all times in this course. The consequences of violating this code are serious, and all students should be aware of this.

6. The course schedule is attached. See next page.

Students with a documented disability should inform the instructor at the close of the first class meeting or as soon as possible.  If you are not registered with Disability Services, the instructor will refer you to the Student Support Services office for consultation regarding documentation of your disability and eligibility for accommodations under the ADA/504.  In order to receive accommodations, eligible students must provide each instructor with a Faculty Accommodation Form from Disability Services.  Students must return the completed and signed form to the

Disability Services office on the 3rd floor of the Connell Student Center.  Students with a documented disability who do not wish to use accommodations are strongly encouraged to register with Disability Services and complete a Faculty Accommodation Form each semester.  For further information please contact Disability Services at 301-2778 or visit the web site at http://www.mercer.edu/stu_support/swd.htm.

 

ENGLISH 237 COURSE SCHEDULE

Note that this schedule is intended as a flexible plan, not a rigid sequence. I am willing to expand discussion times if that seems appropriate. After long experience, I have found that the best way to teach a film and literature course is to keep an open mind about the schedule. I have therefore included a number of “buffer classes” at the end.

Tues. 19 Aug. Course Intro. Reading assignment Giannetti, chapter 1.

Thurs. 21 Aug. Start Welles, Citizen Kane.

Tues. 26 Aug.  Discussion. Continue Citizen Kane. Giannetti Quiz 1. Giannetti assignment, ch. 2.

Screening: A Journey through Film with Martin Scorsese. 7 p.m., Stetson 158.

Thurs. 28 Aug. Citizen Kane.

Tues. 2 Sept. Citizen Kane. Reading assignment Walkabout. Giannetti Quiz 2.

Thurs. 4 Sept. Citizen Kane.

Tues. 9 Sept. Start Walkabout. Quiz on Walkabout. Continue A Journey through Film with Martin Scorsese.7 p.m., Stetson 158.

Thurs. 11 Sept. Walkabout.

Tues. 16 Sept. Walkabout. Reading assignment The Maltese Falcon.

Thurs. 18 Sept. Walkabout.

Tues. 23 Sept. Walkabout. Reading assignment Giannetti, ch. 3.

Thurs. 25 Sept. Start The Maltese Falcon. Quiz on The Maltese Falcon.

Tues. 30 Sept. The Maltese Falcon.

Thurs. 2 Oct. The Maltese Falcon. Giannetti Quiz 3. Reading assignment Hamlet.

Tues. 7 Oct. The Maltese Falcon. Paper assignment. Reading assignment Giannetti, ch 4.

Thurs. 9 Oct. No class.

Tues. 14 Oct. Discussion Hamlet. Quiz on Hamlet.

Thurs 16 Oct. Let the Devil Wear Black. Giannetti Quiz 4.

Tues. 21 Oct. Let the Devil Wear Black. Paper due. Reading assignment A Clockwork Orange.

Thurs. 23 Oct. Let the Devil Wear Black.

Tues. 28 Oct. Let the Devil Wear Black.

Thurs. 30 Oct. Start A Clockwork Orange. Quiz on A Clockwork Orange.

Tues.4 Nov. A Clockwork Orange. Reading assignment Giannetti, ch 5.

Thurs. 6 Nov. A Clockwork Orange.

Tues. 11 Nov. A Clockwork Orange. Giannetti Quiz 5.

Thurs. 13 Nov. A Clockwork Orange.

Tues. 18 Nov.  A Clockwork Orange. Final paper assignment. Discussion.

Thurs. 20 Nov. Discussion. Last date for optional paper.

Tues. 25 Nov. Discussion

Thurs. 27 Nov. No class.

Tues. 2 Dec. Discussion.

Thurs. 4 Dec. Last class day. 

 
   

It goes without saying that the Mercer Honor Code is in effect at all times in this course.