Monday, 03 January 2011

"Confessional Narratives" Syllabus By request, here's the meat of my "Confessional Narratives" syllabus. The standard caveat applies. I'll post the "Slow Horror" syllabus after I think of a better name for the course tomorrow and address the comments in the Fight Club post when I throw together my lesson plan for Thursday's class. The confessional narrative is not, strictly speaking, a medium (film, books, television, etc.) or a genre (romantic comedies, action movies, horror films, etc.). It is a mode; that is, it is less a kind of story and more a way of telling a story. In this class, we will examine works in the confessional mode in an attempt to define what features and characteristics belong to it. At the beginning of the quarter—which would be now—you will have to take my word that the works we will study are in the confessional mode; by the end of the quarter, I fully expect, and will in fact be disappointed if you don't challenge the assumptions on which my selections were based. The most salient element that the works you will encounter in this class share is that they are, in their own way, autobiographical; however, as autobiography is a genre, not a mode, it is possible for works that are not autobiographical to be written in the confessional mode. (We will be reading one such work, Daniel Clowes' Ghost World, at the end of the quarter.) The reason for studying this mode should be obvious: American culture, at this particular historical moment, is obsessively confessional. Be it Facebook and its ethos of “pics or it didn't happen” or a Tiger Woods press conference-cum-therapy session or films and television series “based on a true story,” Americans crave the kind of information that was once only shared in close quarters. In order to discover why that is, we must first understand how these narratives work; that is, we must figure out how they move us before we can discover why they do. To that end, we will be learning about rhetoric, a word so important to this class it must be bold. Rhetoric entails more than ethos, pathos and logos—the three elements which you likely learned in high school—it refers to all the techniques that an author or auteur uses to make his or her message appeal to a particular audience. In order to understand why a graphic novel appeals to an audience, we must first understand the rhetorical devices particular to it: panel transitions, word-picture relations, the visual vocabulary of film, etc. Similarly, in order to understand why a film appeals an audience, we must first understand the rhetorical devices particular to it: focal length, angle of framing, lighting, etc. We will devote the first few weeks of this quarter learning the terminology associated with both the comic and filmic mediums, then apply that knowledge to other works for the remainder of it. Texts: Fight Club (film) Blankets (graphic novel) Maus (graphic novel) American Born Chinese (graphic novel) Ghost World (film and...

Become a Fan

Recent Comments