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C LIT 240 B: Writing In Comparative Literature

Meeting Time: 
TThF 9:30am - 11:20am
DEN 113
Katherine Morrow

Syllabus Description:

Global Documentary: Past and Present


Instructor: Kathy Morrow                   Class meetings: TTh 9:30-11:20 Denny Hall 113                                                                        

Office: Padelford B202                    Film Screenings: F 9:30-11:20 Denny Hall 113

Office Hours: Monday, Tuesday 11:30am-1pm and by appointment

Course Description

From its inception, cinema has been inextricably linked to the desire to record the world around us, whether workers leaving the factory next door or recreating Inuit life hundreds of miles away. Within months of the first public film screening in Paris in 1895, the Lumière brothers sent cameramen around the world to share the new medium and to bring back exoticized images for viewers in the west. This course will focus on transnational and global documentaries and ask students to consider questions of voice, perspective, and film form. What does it mean to document and view the world beyond one’s own community, nation, region or hemisphere? How can we envision an increasingly globalized world? What do such films tell us about the nature of documentary cinema, especially when they push the boundaries of the form’s preoccupation with actuality and truth?

This course focuses on the writing process, from sharpening students’ critical eye in order to gather evidence and form a cohesive argument to perfecting a strong paper through the final stages of editing. Students will write frequently, building upon short responses papers and culminating in a final comparative paper. There will be opportunities to rewrite papers, give and receive peer feedback, and work one-on-one with the instructor. Grades will be based on the final versions of papers, quizzes, short assignments, active class participation, and thorough preparation. 

Please note some films include graphic depictions of animal slaughter and nudity.


Absence and Late Policy

I understand everyone gets sick and may have personal issues that interfere with attending class, thus everyone is allowed two absences over the course of the quarter. This means if you are sick, you don’t need to ask permission for leave. You are, however, responsible for contacting a classmate or me to keep up with what you have missed. This also means that going over two absences will negatively affect your participation grade. For example, if you miss a couple of classes in the first five weeks for personal reasons and then have a cold later in the quarter, those absences will not be excused because you were sick. If you have a serious illness and are going to miss more than two classes, please contact me. Also, let me know AS SOON AS POSSIBLE if you are going to have trouble meeting a deadline. There are a lot of assignments in this class, and falling behind by even a few days will make it very difficult to keep up.

It is especially important to be present on peer review days. If you are going to miss a peer review class, please let me know as soon as possible, so that other arrangements can be made.

Peer reviews are worth 10% of paper grades, and those points cannot be made up if you miss class and do not arrange an alternative peer review through me.

Canvas posts lose 1 point for every 12-hour period after the deadline. They are due at noon, so if you turn it in on the same day before midnight, you will lose one point; by noon the next day is a two-point deduction and so on.

Screenings and Readings

This courses focuses on the analysis of film texts, so film viewing is an essential part of the curriculum. The films will usually be shown on Fridays during the scheduled class time. While watching the films is mandatory, attendance at the screenings is not, though highly recommended. The films are widely available online, and most are also available as DVDs in the Suzzallo Media Center course reserve. There will be quizzes at the beginning of the class following a screening (usually Tuesdays) to make sure everyone is keeping up with the screening schedule and watching the films attentively.

Readings are also an important part of this course. Critical reading and analysis is essential to improving writing skills. The readings are available as PDFs or library links on the Canvas website.

Email Policy

I will respond to emails within 24 hours of receipt (barring exceptional circumstances). I am happy to answer questions not addressed on this syllabus. I will not give comments on full drafts over email, but I am very willing to discuss a thesis statement or a few specific questions. Students who wish to receive more in-depth feedback at any point in the writing process should come to office hours or make an appointment to meet with me at another time.


Plagiarism, or academic dishonesty, is presenting someone else's ideas or writing as your own. In your writing for this class, you may refer to other people's thoughts and writing--as long as you cite them. As a matter of policy, any student found to have plagiarized any piece of writing in this class will be immediately reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review. Students are sometimes unclear about what constitutes plagiarism, so feel free to ask. There is a great explanation on the Purdue OWL site,


If you need accommodation of any sort, please let me know so that I can work with the UW Disability Resources for Students Office (DRS) to provide what you require. This syllabus is available in large print, as are other class materials. More information about accommodation may be found at

Campus Safety

Preventing violence is everyone's responsibility. If you're concerned, tell someone.

  • Always call 911 if you or others may be in danger.
  • Call 206-685-SAFE (7233) to report non-urgent threats of violence and for referrals to UW counseling and/or safety resources. TTY or VP callers, please call through your preferred relay service.
  • Don't walk alone. Campus safety guards can walk with you on campus after dark. Call Husky NightWalk 206-685-WALK (9255).
  • Stay connected in an emergency with UW Alert. Register your mobile number to receive instant notification of campus emergencies via text and voice messaging. Sign up online at

For more information visit the SafeCampus website at

Assignments and Grading

  • One-page response posts (300-450 words), due on Canvas (5 out of 6) (15%)
  • Three papers, reviewed and revised
    • Paper 1: Sequence Analysis 3-4 pages (15%)
    • Paper 2: Film Analysis 5-6 pages (20%)
    • Paper 3: Comparative Analysis 6-8 pages (25%)
  • Class Participation (25%), including quizzes, active participation in peer review and class discussions, and any other in-class assignments


In recognition of the pressure created by the University of Washington’s use of the 4.0 system, I have restricted the possible grades in my class to better match universities on the letter grading system. Grades will be given as a percentage and then converted to the following grades and 4.0 system equivalents.


Percentage %

Letter Grade

4.0 Equivalent


































Participation Points

Attendance will count for 100 points (10%). Class participation will count for 100 points (10%). Quizzes will count for 5-6 points, adding up to a total of 50 points (5%).

Participation will be graded weekly as follows:

10 points: attentive class participation, active engagement, and speaking at least once

8-9 points: engagement in all activities, without speaking in class discussions

7 points: some engagement, but sometimes distracted or focused on materials unrelated to the course

6 points: total disengagement

--Some weeks additional in-class assignments will be graded through participation. For example, in week one, sharing an image is worth 5 participation points and the other 5 will follow the breakdown above.

**On weeks with peer reviews, participating in the class peer review is worth 5 participation points and arranging an alternative peer review will NOT earn participation points under most circumstances.

The first two absences will not count against you at all, and further absences will be penalized primarily in attendance portion. If you miss both classes one week, for example, you will not earn participation points for that week. There won’t be any makeup quizzes or makeup participation, but you will not lose points. For example, if you miss class on a Tuesday and do not take a 5-point quiz, your quiz total will be calculated out of 45 points instead of 50.

Paper Revision and Regrading Policy

Students have the opportunity to rewrite and receive a new grade once for each paper. Students who choose to take advantage of this opportunity must do the following things:

  1. Meet with me during office hours or make an appoint at another time to discuss my feedback and your plan for revisions.
  2. Submit a revision proposal on the Canvas site within 24 hours of the meeting. It doesn’t need to be extensive; a few bullet points summarizing how you plan to revise the paper is sufficient.
  3. Submit the revised paper, all drafts, and the original peer review worksheet within one week of the meeting.

The final deadline for all revisions is Friday, June 2nd at 3 pm.




WEEK ONE: Film Analysis and Documentary Cinema

Tuesday, March 28th

Syllabus discussion and documentary cinema introduction


Thursday, March 30th

Globalization discussion, critical reading skills, and film analysis terms

Reading: David Held and Anthony McGrew, David Goldblatt and Jonathan Perraton, “Rethinking Globalization” pdf


One-on-one meetings


WEEK TWO: Globalization and Montage Documentary

Friday, March 31st

Screening 9:30 am: Baraka (Ron Fricke,1992)

Monday, April 3rd at Noon: FIRST CANVAS POST DUE


Tuesday, April 4th 

Quiz #1

Baraka discussion

Thesis statements and arguments in film studies


Thursday, April 6th  

Reading: Edward Said, “Knowing the Oriental,” from Orientalism, p 31-49 or 1-10 in pdf

Paper 1 prompt discussion


WEEK THREE: Artistic Challenges to Ethnography

Friday, April 7th

Screening 10:30 am: Reassemblage (Trinh T. Minh-ha, 1982)


Monday, April 10th at Noon: CANVAS POST #2


Tuesday, April 11th  

Quiz #2

Reassemblage discussion

Sequence Analysis discussion

Reading: Bill Nichols, “The Ethnographer’s Tale” 


Thursday, April 13th

Reading: Trinh T. Minh-ha, “Inside Out, Outside In” pdf

Paper #1 Peer Review—bring a hard copy to class


WEEK FOUR: Artistic Challenges to Documentary/History

Friday, April 14th  

Screening 10:00 am Bontoc Eulogy (Marlon Fuentes, 1995)


Tuesday, April 18th  

Turn in paper #1, including draft and peer review comments

Quiz #3

Bontoc Eulogy discussion


Thursday, April 20th

Reading: Marlon Fuentes, “Extracts from an Imaginary Interview: Questions and Answers about Bontoc Eulogy” pdf


WEEK FIVE: 21ST Century Global Documentary and History

Friday, April 21st

Screening 9:25 am: Workingman’s Death (Michael Glawogger, 2005)

Monday, April 24th Noon: CANVAS POST #3

Tuesday, April 25th

Quiz #4

Workingman’s Death discussion



Thursday, April 27th  

Reading: Timothy Corrigan, “Style and Structure in Writing” pdf


WEEK SIX: Avant-Garde Global Documentary

Friday, April 28th  

Screening 9:30 am: Sans Soleil (Chris Marker, 1983)

Monday, May 1st Noon: CANVAS POST #4

Tuesday, May 2nd  

Quiz #5

Sans Soleil discussion


Thursday, May 4th  

Reading: Arjun Appadurai, “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy


WEEK SEVEN: Contemporary Collaborative Global Documentary 1

Friday, May 5th

Screening 9:30 am: Life in a Day (Kevin Macdonald, 2011)

Monday, May 8th Noon: CANVAS POST #5


Tuesday, May 9th

Quiz #6

Life in a Day discussion


Thursday, May 11th  

Paper #2 Peer Review—bring a hard copy to class


WEEK EIGHT: Global Documentary as Memoir

Friday, May 12th

Screening 9:30 am: Cameraperson (Johnson, 2016)


Tuesday, May 16th

Turn in paper #2 to Kathy, including draft and peer review comments

Quiz #7

Cameraperson discussion


Thursday, May 18th

Comparative analysis discussion


WEEK NINE: Contemporary Collaborative Global Documentary 2

Friday, May 19th  

Screening 9:30 am: One Day on Earth (Kyle Ruddick, 2012) OR Human (Yann Arthus-Bertrand, 2015)

Monday, May 22nd Noon: CANVAS POST #6


Tuesday, May 23rd

Quiz #8

One Day on Earth Discussion

Comparative analysis discussion


Thursday, May 25th

Course wrap up

Outline workshop

Quiz #9


WEEK TEN: Final Writing Work and Wrap-Up

Friday, May 26th NO CLASS

Tuesday, May 30th

Paper #3 Peer Review—bring a hard copy to class


Thursday and Friday, June 1st and 2nd  

No class, one-on-one final meetings

The final deadline for all revisions is Friday, June 2nd at 3 pm


Wednesday, June 7th at 3 pm, final version of paper #3 due

Catalog Description: 
Comparative approach to literature and a workshop in writing comparative papers in English. Emphasis on cross-cultural comparison of literary works. Readings in English with an option to read selected texts in the original languages Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements Met: 
English Composition (C)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 9:32pm