Declaration of Teaching Principles

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By the first class meeting

  • Watch all screenings.
  • Review all assigned readings.
  • Draft all assignments.
  • Set up Moodle.

Before class

  • Watch every assigned screening.
  • Do every assigned reading.
  • Plan the approach.
  • Create a PowerPoint.

In class

  • Set aside time to discuss every assigned reading.
  • Set aside time to discuss every completed assignment.
  • Leave time at the end for questions and unfinished business.
  • End class with a preview of what’s coming next.

Outside class

  • Respond promptly to student emails.
  • Be friendly, courteous, and patient in person and online.
  • Be on time for office hours.

Good Night, and Good Luck.

Once again, thanks to my TV & New Media course, it is time to watch Good Night, and Good Luck (George Clooney, 2005), and once again I am reminded what a beautifully intimate experience it is. On the manifest level of its narrative, the film details the crusade of Edward R. Murrow and the See It Now news team to take Senator Joseph McCarthy to task for his many transgressions against democracy, and it’s gripping stuff: but on the latent level of its mise-en-scene, the movie is all about the television studios, elevators, lobbies, and offices at CBS — pristine spaces rendered in crisp black-and-white cinematography (actually the result of shooting grayscale sets in color, then digitally timing them to a sublime monochrome) and redolent of technological and cultural power as only the broadcast TV era could embody it. In its period evocation it’s Mad Men played straight, and unlike the AMC series, the total lack of exterior shots gives the whole thing the hermetic feel of a holodeck simulation.

When I first saw the film, the U.S. was gritting its teeth through George W. Bush’s second term, and its messages about the abuse of governmental power and patriotic ideology were impossible to read as anything other than statements about our post-9/11 world. Seven years later, the connotative corset has loosened, and exciting resonances with the passionately essayistic journalism of Rachel Maddow and the breathless pace of blogging and spreadable media (an electrical feeling of liveness and deadline I experience, if only in a small way, in my new daily posting regimen) tie Murrow’s moment to our own, inviting us to see the “old” in new media, and vice versa. I’m looking forward to discussing it with my students!

FMST 86: Theory and History of Video Games

Course Description and Goals

By any measure – industrial scale and profitability, cultural pervasiveness, size of audience, range of genres and aesthetics, and influence on and intersection with other media – video games have become one of the dominant entertainment forms of our time. This course investigates the video game medium in both its theoretical and historical dimensions, drawing on a variety of texts and perspectives as well as on play and analysis of video games themselves to build a portrait, not just of games, gamers, and gaming, but of a unique moment in the evolution of contemporary media.

The first half of the term will establish a basic conceptual vocabulary for thinking, speaking, and writing about video games, emphasizing the formal and aesthetic principles that distinguish them as a medium, and articulating these principles to a historical account of video game development. In the second half of the term, we will shift our attention to the broader contexts and cultural functions of video gaming – examining them as commercial and transmedia entities; as spaces for the forging of identity and sociality; as objects of fandom and instruments of ideology – culminating in interpretive and creative practices that push the definition of video games and gaming to, and past, their limits.

Throughout the semester, we will take pains to situate video games in specific contexts, distributing our attention among their technological, formal, and cultural aspects. Students are encouraged to bring their own interests and backgrounds to bear, illuminating video games with the insights of literary theory, film studies, philosophy, psychology, performance, economics, feminism, and any other rubric that enriches the object of study.

Texts

  • Egenfeldt-Nielsen, Simon, Jonas Heide Smith, and Susana Pajares Tosca. Understanding Video Games: The Essential Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2008.
  • Galloway, Alexander. Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006.
  • Levy, Steven. Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. New York: Penguin Books, 2001.
  • Recommended: Donovan, Tristan. Replay: The History of Video Games. East Sussex: Yellow Ant, 2010.
  • All other readings available as PDFs on Blackboard under “Course Documents.”

Assignments

Detailed instructions will be given throughout term. I am always available to discuss
particulars, suggest approaches, and negotiate alternatives.

  • 15% Participation
  • 35% Short Papers
  • 5% Ludology/Narratology Debate Week 6; pass/fail
  • 15% Team Presentation Weeks 7-11; schedule with me
  • 30% Final Project

CALENDAR
Readings and assignments are subject to change

Week 1 (8/30 & 9/1): Overture
T Introductions and course overview
Th Framing videogames as objects of study
UVG Ch. 1, “Studying Video Games” & Ch. 6, “Video Game Culture”

Week 2 (9/6 & 9/8): Basic Categories
T Theorizing games and play
UVG Ch. 3, “What Is A Game?”; Galloway, “Gamic Action, Four
Moments”
** Due: 1-page self-introduction
Th Thinking in (and about) genres
Foucault, “The Order of Things”
Excerpts from Wolf, The Video Game Explosion

Week 3 (9/13 & 9/15): History I
T Roots of video gaming
UVG Ch. 4, “History” (pp. 45-67)
Levy, Hackers

Th The arcade era

Hilbert, “Flying Off the Screen: Observations from the Golden Age of the
American Video Game Arcade”
Rouse, “Game Analysis: Centipede”
Fiske, “Video Pleasures”
** View on own time: The King of Kong (Seth Gordon, 2007)

Week 4 (9/20 & 9/22): History II
T Console and PC gaming
UVG Ch. 4, “History” (pp. 67-96)
** Due: Spacewar/Adventure Comparison
Th Mobile and casual games
Juul, excerpt from A Casual Revolution
Chien, “This Is Not a Dance”
Scott and Ruggill, “Simulation or Simulacrum? The Promise of Sports
Games”

Week 5 (9/27 & 9/29): Principles of Form
T Rules and representation
UVG Ch. 5, “Video Game Aesthetics”
Sudnow, “Eyeball and Cathexis”
Th Closeup: First-Person Shooters
Galloway, “Origins of the First-Person Shooter”
** Due: Midterm (between now and week 10)

Week 6 (10/4 & 10/6): Ludology & Narratology
T Ludology & narratology
UVG Ch. 8, “Narrative”
Aarseth, “Genre Trouble: Narrativism and the Art of Simulation”
Jenkins, “Game Design as Narrative Architecture”
Frasca, “Simulation versus Narrative: Introduction to Ludology”
Th In-class debate

Fall Break

Week 7 (10/18 & 10/20): Business and Industry
** Start of team presentations
T Gamemakers
UVG Chapter 2, “The Game Industry”
Birdwell, “The Cabal: Valve’s Design Process for Creating Half-Life”
Th Adaptations and transmedia
Excerpt from Brookey, Hollywood GamersTheory and History of Videogames / 4

Week 8 (10/25 & 10/27): Social Effects
T Reclaiming gaming
Johnson, excerpt from Everything Bad Is Good for You
McGonigal, excerpt from Reality Is Broken
Th Video game fandom
Rehak, “Mapping the Bit Girl”; additional reading(s) TBA

Week 9 (11/1 & 11/3): Multiplayer
T Game communities
UVG Ch. 7, “Player Culture”
Dibbell, “A Rape in Cyberspace”
Th Multiplayer
Bartle, “Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDS”
Pearce and Artemesia, excerpt from Communities of Play
** View on own time: Second Skin (Juan Carlos Pineiro-Escoriaza, 2008)

Week 10 (11/8 & 11/10): Identity
T Gender
Kafai, Heeter et al, excerpt from Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat
Burrill, excerpt from Die Tryin’: Videogames, Masculinity, Culture
Th Race
always_black, “Bow, N****r”
Nakamura, “Race In/For Cyberspace: Identity Tourism and Racial Passing on
the Internet”

Week 11 (11/15 & 11/17): Gaming the Game
T Mods, cheating, and machinima
Galloway, “Countergaming”
Consalvo, excerpt from Cheating
Th Serious games
UVG Ch. 9, “Serious Games”
Galloway, “Social Realism”
Bogost, excerpt from Persuasive Games

Week 12 – Thanksgiving (class does not meet)

Week 13 (11/29 & 12/1): Colloquium
T Student presentations
Th Student presentations

Week 14 (12/6)
T Wrap up; course evaluations
** Final papers due 12/13

FMST 84: TV and New Media

Course Description and Goals

This course explores the commercial, technological, and aesthetic dimensions of television, using this fundamentally “transient and unstable” medium (as William Uricchio has called it) as a springboard for larger discussions about cultural responses to media succession. At its birth, television disrupted and reworked the media around it (film, radio, and telephone); has itself been reshaped by VCRs, DVDs, and game consoles; and now faces further redefinition by smart phones, iPads, DVRs, streaming video on demand, social networking, and piracy. Amid all the excitement, our challenge as critical media scholars is to separate the revolutionary from the evolutionary, arriving at a comprehensive picture of how the contemporary mediascape – with its promises of total information access, on-demand entertainment, and democratic participation in content creation – both extends and breaks with tradition.

Our goals, by the end of the term, will be to (A) map the historical paths by which television has grown from a radically “new” medium to an everyday part of our social and ideological fabric; (B) explore the ways in which TV, as industry and entertainment form, incorporates and responds to emerging technologies, new media genres, and globalization; (C) analyze recurrent tropes in the cultural imagining of new media, such as interactivity, “liveness,” and tensions between mass and individual, fiction and reality; and finally (D) reflect critically on our own media practices – how we use media for pleasure and knowledge, and how media in turn shape us as consumers and citizens, as gendered and raced individuals.

Texts

  • Bennett, James and Niki Strange (eds). Television as Digital Media.
    Durham: Duke University Press, 2011. [TVDM]
  • Kackman, Michael et al (eds). Flow TV: Television in the Age of Media
    Convergence
    . New York: Routledge, 2011. [FTV]
  • Newman, Michael Z. and Elana Levine. Legitimating Television: Media
    Convergence and Cultural Status
    . New York: Routledge, 2012. [LT]
  • Links to and PDFs of additional readings on Moodle (https://moodle.swarthmore.edu/my/). Please print and bring all texts to class.

Graded Course Components

  • 10%            Participation
  • 10%            Podcast
  • 15%            Midterm
  • 20%            Journal
  • 20%            Blogging
  • 25%            Final Project

Participation

Includes regular attendance (if you must miss class, please email me with an explanation), preparation (read all materials in advance), and active, helpful contributions to discussion.

Podcast

You will sign up to record and post to Moodle a 5-minute podcast (audio or video) that responds critically to one of our readings. Podcasts must be posted by Monday night so everyone can review before class. Podcasts will begin in Week 3.

Midterm

Working in teams of two, you will find two media artifacts (clips of TV series, YouTube videos, etc.), one representing “old” and the other “new,” and bring them together in a post to the class wiki that explores their relationship and connects it to a question, theory, or author(s) we have covered. We will view and discuss these in class in Week 8.

Journal

Throughout the semester, you will keep a journal on Moodle in which you respond to prompts, track and discuss your own media habits, and analyze media content. Plan to journal once every two weeks, for a total of 6-8 substantive entries. As part of this assignment, watch several episodes of one of the TV series listed at the end of the syllabus, all of which are on reserve at McCabe.

Blogging

I will divide you into four teams of 4-6 people. Each team will take responsibility for posting to the class blog for one three-week term, while the rest of the class comments. Teams should plan to post at least every other day, for a total of 9-12 entries, with all members participating. Posts may be drawn from current news and events in media, historical materials, or responses to course topics and discussion, but should always be relevant and interesting. Note: assessment of this component will be based both on how your team performs, and how active each individual is in commenting when other teams are posting.

Final Project

Your final project, on a research question of your choice, will combine a wiki page with a 10-minute presentation and participation in a Q&A at our colloquium in Week 14.

Calendar

Readings, topics, and screenings are subject to change.

Week 1 (Jan 18) – Course Introduction

  • Screening: Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)
  • Intros to LT, FTV, TVDM

Week 2 (Jan 25) – Broadcast TV: History, Forms, and Genres

  • Screening: Marty (Delbert Mann, 1953)
  • LT 2, “Another Golden Age?”
  • Anderson, “Television Networks and the Uses of Genre”
  • Williams, “Programming as Sequence or Flow”
  • Dayan and Katz, from Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History
  • Ellis, from Visible Fictions: Cinema, Television, Video
  • § Team 1 blogs

Week 3 (Feb 1) – TV in the Age of the Web

  • TVDM Dawson, “Television’s Aesthetic of Efficiency”
  • TVDM Burgess, “User-Generated Content and Everyday Cultural Practice”
  • FTV Gurney, “It’s Just Like a Mini-Mall”
  • § Team 1 blogs
  • Podcasts begin

Week 4 (Feb 8 ) – Converging and Spreading

  • You are expected to attend Henry Jenkins events: lecture 2/9 at 7 p.m. in SCI 101; conversation with students 2/10 at 10 a.m., Scheuer Room
  • Excerpts from Convergence Culture, Spreadable Media
  • § Team 1 blogs

Week 5 (Feb 15) – Audiences, Agency, Authorship, Interpretation

  • Screening: Twin Peaks (David Lynch, 1991)
  • LT 3, “The Showrunner as Auteur”
  • FTV Gray, “The Reviews Are In”
  • FTV Stein, “Word of Mouth on Steroids”
  • § Team 2 blogs

Week 6 (Feb 22) – Spaces and Screens

  • LT 6, “The Television Image and Image of Television”
  • TVDM Boddy, “Is It TV Yet?”
  • FTV Chamberlin, “Media Interfaces”
  • § Team 2 blogs

Week 7 ( Feb 29) – Race, Ethnicity, Identity

  • Screening: Color Adjustment (Marlon Riggs, 1992)
  • FTV Kim, “NASCAR Nation and Television: Race-ing Whiteness”
  • FTV Amaya, “Television/Televisión”
  • § Team 2 blogs

Spring Break

Week 8 (Mar 14): Old and New

  • Present midterms in class
  • § Team 3 blogs

Week 9 (Mar 21) – Drama

  • Screening: TBA
  • LT 5, “Not A Soap Opera”
  • Seiter and Wilson, “Soap Opera Survival Tactics”
  • § Team 3 blogs

Week 10 (Mar 28) – Comedy

  • Screening: TBA
  • LT 4, “Upgrading the Situation Comedy”
  • Butsch, “Five Decades and Three Hundred Sitcoms About Class and Gender”
  • § Team 3 blogs

Week 11 (Apr 4) – Reality

  • Screening: TBA
  • Simon, “The Changing Face of Reality Television”
  • FTV Bratich, “Affective Convergence in Reality Television”
  • FTV Kavka, “Industry Convergence Shows”
  • § Team 4 blogs

Week 12 (Apr 11) – News and Politics

  • Screening: Good Night, and Good Luck (George Clooney, 2005)
  • FTV Freedman, “The Limits of the Cellular Imaginary”
  • FTV Tryon, “Representing the Presidency”
  • § Team 4 blogs

Week 13 (Apr 18) – Cult

  • Screening: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (Joss Whedon, Web, 2009); “Love and Monsters” (Doctor Who, BBC1, w. Russell T. Davies, d. Dan Zeff, 2006)
  • TVDM Pearson, “Cult Television as Digital Television’s Cutting Edge”
  • FTV Kompare, “Online Cult Television Authorship”
  • § Team 4 blogs

Week 14 (Apr 25) – Colloquium and Course Conclusion

  • Meet in SCI 101 during screening time to present final projects

There is no final exam in this course.

Monday

Nearing the end of today’s work bubble: a precious afternoon spent in the warm womb of my office, getting stuff done. Since becoming a father some seven months ago, work has inverted its affective sign: formerly the thing I dreaded doing, I now rush to it, motivated both by the promise of uninterrupted hours and by the knowledge that, when I’ve finished for the day, I can go home to Zach and just be with him. Parenthood has forced compartmentalization on me, and I like the new boundaries in my life.

What I’ve done today: a smattering of course prep. This week in TV & New Media the topic is “Spaces and Screens,” and we’re reading a chapter from Newman and Levine’s Legitimizing Television; Daniel Chamberlin’s “Media Interfaces, Networked Media Spaces, and the Mass Customization of Everyday Life” from the FlowTV collection; and William Boddy’s “Is It TV Yet? The Dislocated Screens of Television in a Mobile Digital Culture,” from Bennett and Strange’s Television as Digital Media. A solid collection of essays that surprised me with their focus on the industrial side of things rather than the user/viewer’s experience of small screens; together the pieces paint a picture of media corporations in unpleasant throes of transformation, writhing in survival agonies like mammoths stuck in La Brea tar.

Although we haven’t spend a lot of time looking at advertising, based on prior conversations with the students, I suspect I know which way their reactions will go — they’ll be horrified at the predatory practices outlined in Boddy’s essay especially, which charts a range of obnoxious strategies for putting ads — the more customized and first-personal the better — in front of people at grocery stores, bus depots, medical waiting rooms, and gas stations. This morning I was assaulted by a gas station monitor blaring Chase Freedom commercials at me as I stood in the chill wind. Pinned between the car and the gas pump, I felt like an idling, pinging machine myself, a tank getting topped off with messages I didn’t ask for.

Conspiracy in the Classroom

Finishing the first week of a new school term always leaves me feeling as though I’ve launched some kind of ship — like I’ve broken a bottle of bubbly against the side of a vessel that then rolls proudly out of drydock. (Not that I’ve ever performed this particular action in real life. Like so many of my mental referents, it’s a composite of media memories: scenes from movies like Titanic, or the wonderful, ballsy opening shots of Star Trek: Generations, in which a champagne bottle tumbles through space to smash across the prow of the Enterprise-B.)

In this case, we’re talking two inaugural voyages: the first, a retooled version of my Animation and Cinema class, and the second, an entirely new course called Conspiracy. I’ll detail the Animation rethink in a future post, but for now, I want to share the Conspiracy syllabus, which I’m pretty proud of. Putting it together was a pleasurable summer’s labor: I watched dozens of movies, read reams of articles, and basically dug deep into the viny undergrowth of suspicion and speculation that anchors the U.S. political system (or at least our collective perceptions of it). The original inspiration for the class was simply my love of The Parallax View (Alan J. Pakula, 1974), which seemed marvelously strange and icily labyrinthine when I first watched it in the early 1980s. It, along with Phil Kaufman’s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Peter Hyams’s burnt-sienna cheese platter Capricorn One (1978), and Sydney Pollack’s 1975 film Three Days of the Condor (which has not aged well, sad to say) still exerts a special hold on my imagination, and I’m thrilled at the opportunity to explore it and other texts with a class of talented students.

What’s odd, of course, is that what once seemed in the fantastic sweep of its paranoia to be a close cousin of science fiction — indeed, in movies like Capricorn One and Coma (1978), the generic boundaries dissolve almost entirely — today comes across as naive, obvious, or both. Conspiracy narratives in the 1970s were like hushed whispers of a truth too terrible to dredge into daylight, yet too destructive to ignore; now our ears are deafened by the angry bellows of right-wing pundits, angry town-hall protesters, and certain Republican party leaders who believe our President is a socialist, that health-care reform involves the instigation of death panels, and that vaccinations cause disease. Those who aren’t actively enraged are cynically passive: why fight the system when it’s already become, Matrix-like, the fabric of everyday life? As with another topic I teach, fandom, the cultural polarities of conspiracy seem to have reversed themselves over recent decades: subculture becoming superculture, margin becoming mainstream. And if fandom is by and large about the production of pleasure within convection currents that link fringe and center, then conspiracy, following similar fluid dynamics, generates a darker miasma of dread and distrust.

The syllabus that follows is built around two topoi: the assassination of John F. Kennedy anchors the first half of the semester, the events of 9/11 the second. I’ve tried to address all the major permutations of conspiracy theory in the United States, including supernatural and feminist variations, yet I know there’s much more we could be looking at (and I welcome any suggestions for tweaking the lineup). The fun part has been coming up with a reading list that mixes “authoritative” academic perspectives with raw, disreputable textual troublemakers from the heart of conspiracy country. One of my hopes is that the course will take us from a time when conspiracy seemed an isolatable, nameable, unusual thing to one in which the digital remapping of media culture has multiplied the theories, speculation, and accusation to an unnerving din. Another hope is that students will ultimately come to think self-reflexively about their own practices of textual production and legitimation, and by implication the larger politics of a college education: their place in a system that turns economic capital into cultural capital. And maybe, by the end of the term, this small shared plot, this classroom conspiracy (it tickles me to note that conspire literally means to breathe togetheran apt description of our biweekly meetings) will yield, for them and for me, some major insights.

———————————————————————-

FMST 43: Conspiracy – Fall 2009

This course investigates the texts, narratives, and cultures of conspiracy as they are constituted in film, television, digital, and print media. We will concentrate less on the “truth” of any given conspiracy than on its popular and public impact and meaning — what it says, or might be saying, about ourselves, our world, and our times. The subject, then, is both conspiracy theory and theories about conspiracy. As this is a Film and Media Studies course, we will also pay attention to factors such as representation, technology, narrative, audience, and industry, and their relationship to both dominant and resistant ideologies.

Our focus is on the half-century dating from the late 1950s to the present, a period that extends from the Red Scare, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the Apollo moon landings to Waco, 9/11, and contemporary controversies about Barack Obama’s citizenship and an all-encompassing New World Order. Confining ourselves to the United States, we will explore the ways in which public perceptions of conspiracies spread and evolve through media practices both inside and outside the mainstream, as a mode of education, entertainment, and political activity. Areas we will explore (moving from specific to general) include:

  • The tropes, recurring patterns, and characteristic forms of conspiracy
  • The role of different media in shaping perceptions and understandings of conspiracies
  • The relationship of conspiracy narratives/theories to other media modes such as journalism and documentary, and genres such as horror, science fiction, and mystery
  • The light shed by conspiracy narratives on the production and legitimization of knowledge
  • The possibilities and limits of “diagnosing” conspiratorial trends in relation to specific historical and cultural moments
  • Conspiracy theory as an element of democratic discourse, grassroots political movements, and ideological critique

Textbooks & Readings

  • The Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories. James McConnachie and Robin Tudge. Rough Guides Reference, 2008.
  • Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture. Mark Fenster. Revised and Updated Edition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.
  • Additional readings marked [PDF] will be distributed via Blackboard.

Assignments

15% —Participation: assessed throughout term; for more, see note below.

25% —Activity on class blog: will be assessed three times during term for frequency and content of contributions. For more, see blogging handout.

25% —Midterm paper: due October 8, this 5-7 page paper will respond to the first half of the term by locating a pattern, theme, or idea that ties together a group of conspiracy materials (visual, written, or other). These texts should include both academic and nonacademic content we have looked at together in class, along with material you have explored on your own. In addition to identifying and defining a unifying element, the paper must make some kind of interpretive argument about its significance.

35% —Conspiracy wall display and reflection paper: due the penultimate week of class, this project represents the culmination of your experiences in and thinking about Conspiracy. Working in teams, you will create a public display at McCabe Library, a “conspiracy wall” of texts and images mapping out an existing conspiracy or one of your own design. You will also turn in a 3-5 page reflection paper that discusses the conspiracy and the presentation you have given it. Further details will be given later in term.

A Note on Materials and Methods

In this course we will explore a range of content from different points on the cultural spectrum, from academic articles to photocopied screeds and angry websites, from Hollywood blockbusters to digitally-shot and -distributed underground video. Navigating this material will mean paying attention to origins and rhetorical stance (i.e. where it’s from and what it’s saying) while simultaneously setting aside too-quick distinctions between true/false, logical/illogical, legitimate/illegitimate. While I don’t want to lose sight of “common sense,” I also don’t want the course to devolve into arguments about who really shot JFK. Our assumption will be that we can dabble in conspiracies and conspiracy theories without buying into them — or their counterarguments.

CALENDAR

Week 1 (Sept 1-3): Course Introduction; Types of Knowledge

Read for Thursday: Fenster, “Introduction: We’re All Conspiracy Theorists Now”; Birchall, “Know It All” [PDF], Lisker, “The MADE Manifesto” [PDF]

Screen: Conspiracy Theory (Richard Donner, 1997)

Week 2 (Sept 8-10): Reading and Paranoia

Read for Tuesday: Shapiro, “Paranoid Style”; for Thursday, Fenster Ch 4, “Uncovering the Plot” (pp. 100-117)

Screen: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

Week 3 (Sept 15-17): Red Scares and Pod People

Read for Tuesday: Fenster, Ch 1 “Theorizing Conspiracy Politics,” Hofstadter, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” [PDF]; for Thursday, Steffen-Fluhr, “Women and the Inner Game of Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers“?[PDF]

Screen: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel, 1956)

Week 4 (Sept 22-24): JFK

Read for Tuesday: Marcus, excerpts from “The Manchurian Candidate“?[PDF]; for Thursday, Fenster Ch 4 “Uncovering the Plot” pp. 118-142, Simon, “The Zapruder Film” and “JFK” [PDF]; Hidell, “The Center of the Labyrinth” [PDF]

Screen: JFK (Oliver Stone, 1991). Watch on own time before Tuesday’s class: The Manchurian Candidate (John Frankenheimer, 1962).

Week 5 (Sept 29-Oct 1): The Seventies

Read for Tuesday: Kael, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” [PDF]; for Thursday, Simon, “The Parallax View” [PDF], “Project Mind Kontrol” [PDF]; Hidell, “Who Killed John Lennon?” [PDF]

Screen: The Parallax View (Alan J. Pakula, 1974). Watch on own time before Tuesday’s class: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Philip Kaufman, 1978)

Week 6 (Oct 6-8): Feminism and Other Science Fictions

Read: Tiptree, “The Women Men Don’t See” [PDF], Valerius, “Rosemary’s Baby, Gothic Pregnancy, and Fetal Subjects” [PDF]; Hidell, “Is There a Satanic Child Abuse Cover-Up?” [PDF]

Screen: Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968). Watch on own time before Tuesday’s class: The Stepford Wives (Bryan Forbes, 1975)

Due: Midterm paper

Fall Break

Week 7 (Oct 20-22): Space Invaders I

Read: Fenster Ch 5, “Plotting the Rush”; Bara, “The Secret History of NASA” [PDF]

Screen: Excerpt from Capricorn One (Peter Hyams, 1978), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon (Bart Sibrel, 2001), Astronauts Gone Wild (Bart Sibrel, 2004). Watch on own time: Mythbusters, “NASA Moon Landing Hoax”

Week 8 (Oct 27-29): Space Invaders II

Read: Fenster Ch 4, “Uncovering the Plot” pp. 143-end; Graham, “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been? Conspiracy Theory and The X-Files” [PDF]; Bell and Bennion-Nixon, “The Popular Culture of Conspiracy/The Conspiracy of Popular Culture” [PDF]

Screen: Episodes of The X-Files TBA; Conspiracy, “Area 51”

Week 9 (Nov 3-5): Politics and Race in the Digital Era

Read: Fenster Ch 3, “Finding the Plot” (review material on Clinton); Knight, “Fear of a Black Planet: ‘Black Paranoia’ and the Aesthetics of Conspiracy” [PDF]

Screen: The Clinton Chronicles (Patrick Matrisciana, 1994); watch on own time The Obama Deception (Alex Jones, 2009)

Week 10 (Nov 10-12): New World Orders

Read: Fenster Ch 2, “When the Senator Met the Commander”; Heimbichner, “The Idiot’s Guide to the Cryptocracy” [PDF]; Weidner, “The Culling: A Speculative Look into the Global Apocalypse” [PDF]; Weston, “FEMA: Fascist Entity Manipulating America” [PDF]

Screen: Endgame: Blueprint for Global Enslavement (Alex Jones, 2007); watch on own time Waco: The Rules of Engagement (William Gazecki, 1997)

Week 11 (Nov 17-19): 9/11

Read: Fenster Ch 7 “A Failure of Imagination”; Helms, “Lingering Questions about 9/11” [PDF]; Meigs, “Afterword: The Conspiracy Industry” [PDF]

Screen: Loose Change (Dylan Avery, 2007); watch on own time before Tuesday’s class: United 93 (Paul Greengrass, 2006)

Week 12 (Nov 24): Looking Forward to the End of the World

Read: Fenster Ch 6, “The Prophetic Plot”; Marrs, “What Will Happen in 2012?” [PDF]; Wallace, “Four Horses of the Apocalypse: A Color-Coded Key to the Cryptocracy” [PDF]

Screen: TBA

Thursday (Nov 26): Thanksgiving Break

Week 13 (Dec 1-3): Encoding/Decoding History

Screen: The Da Vinci Code (Ron Howard, 2006), National Treasure (Jon Turtletaub, 2004)

Due: Conspiracy Wall displays and reflection papers

Week 14 (Dec 8): Last day of class

Student evaluations