CMS 397 D: Special Topics in Cinema and Media Studies

Autumn 2024
T 4:30pm - 5:50pm / OUG 141
T 6:00pm - 7:20pm / OUG 136
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
CMS 321 A
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

CMS 321–Women, Cinema and Video Essay Production 

Fall 2024, Tuesdays 4:30-7:20 (OUG 141 and OUG 136).  We will begin every class session in OUG 141 and will shift midway through to OUG 136.

PLEASE NOTE: Odegarrd Library now requires your student id/Husky pass in order to enter the building.  Make certain you always have your student card with you, or you will not be able to access the building/classroom!

Professor Jennifer M. Bean.

Office: 525-C Padelford.  As you may know, Padelford Hall can be confusing.  My office is on the 5th floor, immediately to your right when you exit the elevator (in the C wing).

Office hours: TBA, but probably right after class (no appointment necessary—please drop in!) and by appointment; please allow some lead time for appointments, I am often heavily booked but would be happy to see you.

Mail: or through Canvas.  If your email requires a long reply, I may ask you to arrange an appointment  If you have a question that is easily answered on the course website or in course materials, I will direct you there.  If I don’t reply to you in 24 hours, please ping me again (unless it’s a long weekend—I try to take time away from work email).


This course is a hybrid of critical film studies, feminist and queer theory, and video production, requiring participants to engage both conceptually and creatively.  Our approach will employ a feminist, queer, de-colonial and antiracist framework for studying and producing new videographic forms of criticism often known as “video essays,” considering how such work produces knowledge and also creates a poetic impact.  [If you want to know more about these approaches in advance of class, you can read my essay here, "Feeling Videographic Criticism", from Feminist Media Histories 9.4 (fall 2023)].

Assignments will consist of weekly videographic exercises (weeks 2-7), a videographic abstract, and a final video essay on a topic of the student’s choosing.  No preexisting knowledge of editing software is required, although class members who lack any familiarity with editing programs will need to allot additional time for acquiring basic skills in the initial weeks of the quarter.  We will also view and discuss many examples of video essays, working to both understand the increasing prominence of videographic criticism in Cinema and Media Studies over the past decade, and to envision new possibilities for the future.

Please know that this is an experimental workshop class. Though we will read critical scholarship in the first 6 weeks to form a historical and theoretical foundation, we will be watching and producing short video essays in rhetorical forms that are likely new to all of you. For this class to succeed, it is important that everyone is willing to take chances with their work (sometimes you will not succeed) and provide feedback to others that is constructive and supportive as well as honest.  Although your video projects will be created individually, it is best to think of the class as a collaborative group experiment.

Every member of the class is required to have an external hard drive to store their video projects, and I recommend at least 1TB of space.  You do not need to have a personal computer equipped with advanced editing software, however.  Our classroom is located on the first floor of Odegaard Library (OUG 141) and you are welcome to use the computers and Adobe Premiere editing software on the second floor of the library for your projects.  All supplemental readings and screenings will be provided on the course Canvas site. 



Class Credos

  1. Attendance, attention, participation, listening and careful viewing and reading (of required texts and of your peers' video projects). I expect the very best you can give.  
  2. Good faith and good humor towards your peers in the classroom. For both: disagreements are expected and encouraged, but personal attacks and intimidation are not acceptable under any circumstances. Follow the Golden Rule (see #10 below). Encourage basic questions as well as advanced ones.
  3. Your job as an active class participant is to listen actively to what others say and advance the discussion.  If you are a confident contributor use your confidence for good and not evil.  Help bring others into the discussion, refer to your classmates by name, and be positive about the contributions of those who do not say as much. In like manner, if you are a confident video editor, use your skills to help those less familiar rather than to show off your mastery of technique.
  4. While personal anecdotes are allowed and even encouraged, keep in mind this is an academic seminar. Others may disagree with your interpretation of your experience.  This is also encouraged and allowed.  If you are not comfortable with this credo, do not share your story.  If you share your story and then decide you are uncomfortable with others discussing it, just ask us to stop and we will move the discussion along.
  5. Awkward silences and hesitation are okay. Don’t feel you need to rush to speak and don’t worry if you need a little time to articulate something.  Contributing to class discussion is more than the frequency of the times your hand goes up and the number of words you say. If you are struggling to articulate something, that’s probably a sign that you are saying something that is new and not obvious.
  6. Difficult subject matter: as your professor, I will never do anything intentionally to shock or traumatize you. At the same time, we will discuss difficult subjects in this class, and nobody can predict the effect some materials may have on someone.  I will try and give previews of the kinds of content you will encounter before you encounter it.  If I forget, feel free to ask.  If you are having difficulty dealing with a class discussion or a reading or viewing, you may raise the issue as part of the discussions, or contact me separately as needed.
  7. It is everyone’s job to imagine a better world: any critique of how something is raises the question of how it ought to be. You will be asked to think carefully and imaginatively about alternatives to the way things are.
  8. More than one thing can be true: cultural and aesthetic analysis only works if it is possible to hold onto apparently contradictory ideas at once and explain how they can both be true in specific circumstances.
  9. You have the right to be wrong: part of learning is changing one’s own perspective. This is only possible in a community where ideas can be expressed and challenged, and when people are able to change their minds.  
  10. Follow the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated.

Finally, a word of advice.  (Perhaps this is credo #11?)  To quote Oscar Wilde: "Be Yourself.  Everyone else is taken."

Catalog Description:
Varying topics relating to film in social contexts. Offered by resident or visiting faculty.
GE Requirements Met:
Social Sciences (SSc)
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
July 14, 2024 - 6:48 pm