Friday, August 9, 2013

Understanding the Whedonesque at Emerson College

Below the jump, you'll find my syllabus for a junior/senior seminar that I'll be teaching at Emerson College that covers Joss Whedon's entire career... yes, even Roseanne!

Putting this syllabus together has been a challenge. Joss is basically our generation's Howard Hawks, with a notable work in seemingly every genre and medium. There's literally hundreds of hours to choose from. I tried to only use episodes/works he had a direct hand in, so that meant I couldn't use Buffy's "The Zeppo" and "Passion", Firefly's "Jaynestown", and several notable episodes of Angel and Dollhouse. (One class does deal with the auteurs who grew out of the School of Whedon, so we do have "Shindig" by the talented Jane Espenson.) So, there were quite a few authors and episodes that I didn't get to use. I wish I had time for Buffy's "Graduation Day" and "Hush", Dollhouse's "Echo", Angel's "A Hole in the World", The Astonishing X-Men, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope, and Commentary! The Musical. And I hope that the pilot of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is streaming by early December...

In addition, two books that should be very important to future courses in this vein aren't out yet: David Lavery's Joss Whedon: A Creative Portrait, due out this fall, and the anthology, A Joss Whedon Reader, due out in 2014 from Syracuse University Press. While I'm excited for both volumes, the anthology has two of the first scholarly pieces on The Avengers, by Ensley Guffey, and The Cabin in the Woods, by Kristopher Woofter. Man, I can't wait to read those ones! The essay by Tanya Cochran providing a history of Whedon Studies should be fun too: I missed the first Slayage conference, actually!

And Whedon Studies is such a big sub-discipline within Television Studies now that there were a ton of heart-breaking cuts there too. But those articles always end up in lecture notes, making the teacher seem brighter by standing on the shoulders of giants... who, for me, are Victoria Spah, Cynthea Masson and Marni Stanley, Frederique Lecoq, Rhonda Wilcox, Dawn Heinecken, Jes Battis, Ian Shuttleworth, Sue Tjardes, Steve Wilson, David Fritts, Greg Stevenson, Elizabeth Rambo, Renee St. Louis and Miriam Riggs, Dominic Alessio, Stacey Abbott, and Jeffrey Bussolini.

If you want to buy any of the textbooks in this course, I recommend going to the Whedon Studies Amazon bookstore. Support the forces of Whedon's canonization! (kidding...)




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VM400-02: “Understanding the Whedonesque”

Prof. David Kociemba
Classroom: Walker 502 TR 12-1:45 pm
Office: 180 Tremont St. 915B
Office Hours: TR 4-5 or by appointment
David_Kociemba@emerson.edu

Course Description and Objectives:
This course will use the career of Joss Whedon to introduce students to the variety of positions in the entertainment industry and their potential for fulfilling and creative work. Whedon’s career spans the many production lines in the American Dream Factory: TV series staff writer, script doctor, film screenwriter, TV creator in a wide variety of genres, Internet series creator, comic book writer and creator, niche genre film director, and blockbuster filmmaker. By examining his work at various stages, students will better understand auteur theory, modern industrial entertainment production, and artistic production across media. Works covered include: Roseanne, Alien: Resurrection, Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a film and TV series, Angel, Firefly and Serenity, Dollhouse, The Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers, Much Ado About Nothing, Buffy: Season Eight, and The Astonishing X-Men Omnibus.

Statement of Learning Objectives:
·      Students should exit the course with a paper worthy of publication in an academic journal devoted to undergraduate writing or useable for the writing sample required for entry to graduate school.
·      Students will practice a variety of critical approaches: genre and auteur theory, cultural studies, medium specificity, and close reading of individual works.
·      Students will investigate how actual audiences actually used and still use Whedon’s works through fanvids, fan activism, and other fan practices.
·      Students will explore how the modern media environment alters the traditional understanding of the meaning of series through a thorough investigation of spin-offs, comic books, soundtracks, and other materials.

Course Requirements and Evaluation Criteria:
·      Attendance at all lectures and screenings is mandatory. This is a course in training ourselves to see and think in a specially heightened way and a large part of that training occurs within each class period.
o   Missed class policy: If you need to miss a class due to illness or for personal reasons, simply email the professor before the start of class for it to be an excused absence. For students with a few missed classes, this is enforced by the honor code. At the professor’s sole discretion, he may require students having missed four or more classes to provide documentation of health or personal issues.
o   Homework for missed classes: It’s not due, but, if you wish, you may post it to the course web site on time and have it count towards your homework grade. If it’s an excused absence and you don’t turn in the homework, the assignment counts neither for nor against you.
o   Papers due during a missed class: Extensions require documentation. See the extension policy below.
o   Tardiness: Try not to be tardy. But there’s no penalty to showing up late once in a while. Attendance will be taken at every class, and it is your responsibility to sign in if you miss roll call, not mine. If it becomes a habit, it will play a factor in your class participation grade.
·      Classroom behavior: In general, students should understand that the classroom is a workplace you share with your peers. As the lecture hall can be a difficult setting to make requests about etiquette quietly, err on the side of professional courtesy rather than personal satisfaction.
·      Eating during class can be a distraction in this setting. Moreover, building management policy requests that you do not eat here. Drinks should be in closed containers. The desks are not level and so the risk of spills is high.
  • Noise: In a class designed to make you more sensitive and discerning, you should assume that many people near you could hear your activities. Cell phones should be placed on silent mode. When you expect an important call, set your phone to vibrate and sit on the aisle after asking permission from the professor. Answer such calls in the hallway. Forgetting to silence your cell once is a mistake and it happens; doing so frequently is unprofessional.
  • Laptops may be used in this classroom. Be considerate regarding the inevitable light pollution by sitting towards the back during screenings. Other light sources, such as pens and cell phones, should be used considerately as well. Do not surf the net or IM during class; I can’t tell you the number of students who perform poorly because of such practices.
·      Another aspect of your grade is your class participation. This mark will reflect your sustained contributions to discussion in class and online. Good class participation, online and in-person, uses the following techniques:
·      Makes a clear point
·      Uses contributing evidence, data or examples in making it
·      Links the point creatively to the readings, lectures or issues
·      Or the point supplements important things missing in them
·      Synthesizes or sums up the discussion thus far to clarify where the class stands
·      Asks for clarification, evidence or examples
·      Points out another’s unspoken assumptions where relevant
·      Raises a problem or complication for the other person’s point
·      States a different POV and backs it up with evidence and examples
·      Makes connections to relevant personal experiences
·      Is courteous to others in tone
·      Respects that classrooms are places where we “try on” ideas and thus their peers are not defined by the viewpoints expressed there
·      I will post discussion topics to the board on occasion, but you should not wait for my service as online guide. Finally, the Fair Use exception covers most academic uses of copyrighted material if they are posted to the course web site.
·      Every assignment should be completed. The texts assigned for this course includes articles providing an historical background, cultural and media theory, and critical responses to the films screened in class. Please have your reading completed for discussion during the listed date. Optional reading assignments are just that: optional. Viewing assignments should be completed by the listed date, as that class asks students to make close readings of that work.
·      Help! I can’t get Canvas to work! If you have any issues accessing the site, please contact the IT Help Desk at x8080, email itg@emerson.edu, consult student Canvas guides at http://guides.instructure.com/m/4212, or go to Walker 404.
·      You’ll be expected to write a critical summary paper summarizing one reading assignment for each class. Select ONE reading or screening due for that class. Format in the following manner:

 

How to Write Critical Summaries on a Reading

Name:
Reading used:

Section 1: Thesis statement of yours or your author’s construction. One sentence.

Section 2: A full summary of the major arguments and impacts raised by the article. One paragraph.

Section 3: List three major pieces of evidence. Evidence is not what the author says. Evidence is what the author uses to persuade you of the rightness of the argument. Evidence includes examples, secondary source quotations your author uses, facts, statistics, and so on. This should never include original research. Cite your quotes with the author and the page number of the reading.

Section 4: Here is where you can critique the reading or ask questions prompted by your selection.

How to Write Critical Summaries on a Screening or Comic


Name:
Screening and/or Reading used:

Section 1: Construct your own thesis about its theme, its artistic techniques, its effects on viewers, its significance in media art history or Whedon’s career, or how it is “Whedonesque” or complicates that notion. ALTERNATIVELY, your thesis may apply an assigned reading to the screening. One sentence.

Section 2: Apply your thesis to the screening by using the plot and formal approaches to talk about the piece in its artistic, cultural, and/or industrial contexts. Do not simply write a plot summary. ALTERNATIVELY, you may talk about the screening in light of one of the readings, without summarizing the reading. One paragraph.

Section 3: List three major pieces of evidence, which includes plot examples, quotations, uses of artistic techniques, screen grabs, etc. If you’re applying a reading to the screening, pair up examples from the screening with a quotation from the article.

Section 4: Here is where you can critique the screening or ask questions prompted by your selection.

·      This assignment shouldn’t be more than a page in length. Bring a copy to class, for you to consult and then turn in at the end of class. Turn in a digital copy online as well before the start of class. They are graded on a three-point scale roughly corresponding to check minus, check or check plus.
o   What’s a check plus mean? The critical summaries are graded on a three-point scale roughly corresponding to check minus (1), check (2), or check plus (3). That translates to:
§  51 points (all check pluses) = A+
§  46.75 points = A
§  42.5 points = A-
§  38.25 points = B+
§  34 points (all checks) = B
§  29.75 points = B-
§  25.5 points = C+
§  21.25 points = C
§  17 points (all check minuses) = C-
§  8 points = D
o   There will be extra credit originating from in-class and out of class assignments.
·      These assignments will NOT be accepted after the class in which they are due, as their function is to prompt excellent class participation and reward students for coming to class prepared. Critical summaries that are not turned in on time garner 0 points. If you have an excused absence from a class, you may submit the critical summary for that class on time on our course web site. If you’re excused and you do not submit it, it will not count against you.
·      There will be four lengthier writing assignments that it will be necessary to complete: a midterm and final paper, each with a rough draft due two weeks beforehand. The draft assignment is a “rough cut” of your final paper, which must be at least 3,000 words long; the second is the final version should be at least 4,000 words in length. The latter assignment is a re-write of the first one, only informed by the peer review of a fellow student and the professor’s feedback on your draft. You may rewrite your midterm for your final assignment, as the goal is to write a publishable paper, although the word count minimum and expectations will be higher in such a case.
o   A good “hook,” lucid writing, a comprehensive examination of the relevant media theories, the application of those theories to the series as a whole or in part, and persuasive critical insight into those theories are necessary for excellent marks on this assignment. A fuller rubric to guide you will be provided with the assignment.
o   Several former students have had their work published.
·      Extension policy:
o   The Student Health Center “does not provide excused absence notes to faculty or coaches. If a clinician determines that a student’s illness or injury requires alteration in class or athletic participation/attendance, the recommendation may be conveyed with the student’s written authorization” (10). “When indicated as part of clinical management, the CHW may recommend alteration of academic requirements, deferment of responsibilities, non-participation in certain activities, and other appropriate measures for “health reasons. With the written authorization of the student, the center may verify the nature and extent of the illness” (48). Prolonged absences due to accident or illness require the student to immediately contact the dean and the relevant professors (ibid).
o   Jury duty, when documented, is an excused absence. Documentation of significant life or health disruptions—in advance, in person, or via email—may, at my sole discretion, result in an excused absence. Examples of such disruption documentations include, but are not limited to, police reports, Apple “genius” bar receipts for computer disasters, disability services recommendations, doctor’s notes, and—as I’ve had two students fake the death of grandparents to get an extension—obituaries/death notices.
o   In addition, “any student who is unable, because of religious beliefs, to attend classes or participate in any examination, study, or work requirement on a particular day shall be excused from any such requirement. The student will receive an opportunity to make up the examination, study, or work requirement that may have been missed” provided that such makeup examination or work does not create an unreasonable burden upon me (ibid). I also count them as excused absences, not unexcused.
o   By the college’s definition, your scheduling of your travel arrangements cannot result in an “unavoidable” absence.
·      Penalties for late submission: Late papers and drafts receive a penalty of 1/3 of a letter grade for every two days that an assignment is late. The exception is the final research paper, which results in a 1/3 of a letter grade penalty for every day that it is late, as final grades are due shortly after the end of the semester. The professor prefers that late assignments be posted to the course website. In emergencies, you may email it to the account listed at the top of the syllabus. It is always worthwhile to turn in late assignments, as an F does not wreak the same havoc that a 0 does. No paper or draft will be accepted more than two weeks after its due date without a previously negotiated extension.
·      Help! I can’t get the course web site to work! It’s the first semester with Canvas, so I have little idea how to help you. Make sure to contact help_desk@emerson.edu for help. For more mundane problems, contact the IT Help Desk at x8080.

Required Books:
·      Erin B. Waggoner, ed. Sexual Rhetoric in the Works of Joss Whedon: New Essays.
·      Mary Alice Money, ed. Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion.
·      Rhonda Wilcox, Why Buffy Matters.
·      Roz Kaveney, ed. Reading the Vampire Slayer: An Unofficial Critical Companion to Buffy and Angel. 2nd edition
·      Lynne Edwards, Elizabeth L. Rambo, and James B. South, eds. Buffy Goes Dark.
·      Stacey Abbott, Angel.
·      Joss Whedon and Georges Jeanty, Buffy Season Eight.
·      Joss Whedon, Fàbio Moon, Sugarshock!

Recommended Books:
·      Joanne Hollows, Peter Hutchings and Mark Jancovich, eds. The Film Studies Reader.
·      Barry Keith Grant, ed. Film Genre Reader IV.
·      Paul Attinello, Janet K. Halfyard, and Vanessa Knights, eds. Music, Sound and Silence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
·      Stacey Abbott, Reading Angel.
·      Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery, eds. Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
·      Mary Kirby-Diaz, ed. Buffy and Angel Conquer the Internet: Essays on Online Fandom
·      AmiJo Comeford and Tamy Burnett, eds. The Literary Angel. 

All these texts are available through the library reserves and databases. For those students who prefer a more convenient source, I have prepared two course packs for purchase. One course pack will include all assignments NOT in required texts; one will include only those articles not in either required or recommended texts.

Suggested online resources:
·      Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association (there’s also a Facebook page)
·      Whedonesque 
·      Chats #Whedony Monday nights 9pm EST
·      Buffyworld (mostly accurate transcripts, lots of still images, for both BtVS and Angel)
·      The Great Buffy Rewatch (Whedon scholars guide new viewers through the series)

Screenings:
Students can do their viewing homework either by watching the DVDs in the library, watching them on streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, or downloading them via iTunes or Amazon.
·      Hulu+ doesn’t have Serenity, The Avengers, Much Ado about Nothing, The Cabin in the Woods, Speed, Alien: Resurrection, Dollhouse or the Buffy movie.
·      Netflix doesn’t have streaming versions of the Buffy movie, Speed, Alien: Resurrection, or Much Ado about Nothing.

Grading Policy:
Your grade will be contingent on the completion of the following parts of this course:
·      class participation (10%)
·      15 critical summaries and 2 peer reviews (20%)
·      rough draft of final paper (10%)
·      midterm research paper (20%)
·      rough draft of final paper (10%)
·      final research paper (30%)

Plagiarism Statement:
It is the responsibility of all Emerson students to know and adhere to the College's policy on plagiarism, which can be found at: http://www2.emerson.edu/academic_affairs/policies/Plagiarism-Policy.cfm. If you have any question concerning the Emerson plagiarism policy or about documentation of sources in work you produce in this course, speak to your instructor.

Diversity Statement:
Every student in this class will be treated with respect as an individual, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identification, disability, socioeconomic status, or national identity. Issues of diversity may be a part of class discussion, assigned material, and projects. The instructor will make every effort to create a comfortable and inclusive environment for all. If you  have concerns or suggestions for improving the classroom climate, please do not hesitate to contact the instructor or the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, 2nd floor of 8 Park Plaza, diversity_inclusion@emerson.edu, 617-824-8528.

Disability Statement:
From personal experience, the professor believes that every student has the legal and moral right to a fair playing field. The College will provide reasonable accommodations to disabled students who request accommodations through the College’s Disability Services Office (DSO), if the DSO determines that accommodations are both medically necessary and reasonable. Please note that a requested accommodation will only be approved as ‘reasonable’ if it does not compromise any essential requirements of a course. Students who wish to request a disability accommodation must submit their request to the DSO, and not to faculty, since only the DSO is authorized to approve or deny any requests for accommodations. College employees and student’s family members cannot request accommodations on a student’s behalf. … Students who know at the start of a semester that they will need accommodations must submit their accommodation requests to the DSO within the first two weeks of the semester. If a student becomes ill or disabled during the course of a semester, or discovers after the start of a semester that he or she needs a disability accommodation, he or she is encouraged to submit his or her request to the DSO as soon as possible since the process of approving accommodations takes time, and approved accommodations will not be granted retroactively. The Associate Director for Disability Services can be reached at: 617-824-8592, dso@emerson.edu, 5th Floor 216 Tremont Street. The full disability services statement of Emerson College can be found on page 80 of the Student Handbook, http://www.emerson.edu/sites/default/files/Files/StudentLife/student-life-undergraduate-student-handbook.pdf.

A note about the workload: “Understanding the Whedonesque” is a 4 credit-hour course. The credit-hour system assumes that for each hour a student spends in class, they spend 2 hours doing work outside of class. (It also assumes the same for your professor.) Since we spend 3.5 hours a week in class, I try to assign roughly 7 hours of homework. National surveys for college students show that they can read 250 words/minute (30 pages/hour) and write 1 page single-spaced per hour in arts and humanities courses. Thus, an average workload for this course would be roughly 150 pages of reading and two critical summaries per week; although as this is an upper-level course, your efficiency should be above that of the average college student. (The current average is an extra 13.5 minutes for each class, which includes estimated time spent research paper writing.) During midterms and finals, I try to cut that workload down so that you can devote yourself to your papers. I’ve also assigned shorter, lighter pieces and interviews to help you pace yourself in writing critical summaries.

Course Schedule:

Writing Under a Powerful Woman:
Joss as Staff Writer on Roseanne

9/5 in-class viewing assignment: “Brain Dead Poets Society” Roseanne [2.10] (writer Joss Whedon, dir. John Pasquin, 1989)

Whedon as Script Doctor and Screenwriter


9/10 viewing assignment: Watch ONE of the following…
·      Speed (writer Graham Yost, dir. Jan de Bont, 1994) 116 min.
·      Alien: Resurrection (writer Joss Whedon, characters Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 1997) 109 min.
9/10 reading assignments: 45 pages
·      Thomas Schatz, “The Structural Influence: New Directions in Film Genre Study,” Film Genre Reader IV. (ed. Barry Keith Grant). p. 110-120. (ON RESERVE, COURSE PACKET)
·      Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author,”  Theories of Authorship (ed. John Caughie). p. 208-213. http://www.deathoftheauthor.com/
·      Raz Greenberg, “Alien: Resurrection, the Script that Shaped Joss Whedon’s Career,” Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion. p. 431-440.
·      James Longworth, “Joss Whedon, Feminist,” Joss Whedon: Conversations. (eds. David Lavery and Cynthia Burkhead). 42-63 [E-BOOK on library web site]
9/10 writing assignment:
·      Write a critical summary on one of the readings or the films. Post it to the Canvas course web site and bring a copy to class for you to consult.

9/12 viewing assignment: 86 min.
·      Buffy the Vampire Slayer (writer Joss Whedon, dir. Fran Rubel Kuzui, 1992)
9/12 reading assignments: 22 pages
·      Thomas Schatz, “The Whole Equation of Pictures,” The Genius of the System, p. 3-12. [ON RESERVE, COURSE PACKET]
·      Laura Berger, “Joss Whedon 101: Buffy the Vampire Slayer [The Movie],” Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion. p. 429-31.
·      Tasha Robinson, “The Onion A.V.Club Interview with Joss Whedon”, http://www.avclub.com/articles/joss-whedon,13730/ 9/5/2001.
9/12 writing assignment:
·      Write a critical summary on one of the readings or the film. Post it to the Canvas course web site and bring a copy to class for you to consult.

The School of Buffy: Learning to Direct

9/17 viewing assignments: 67 min.
·      Production pilot [Buffy the Vampire Slayer unaired] (Joss Whedon, 1997) http://www.buffyworld.com/buffy/videos/buffy000.wmv
·      “Prophecy Girl” [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1.12] (Joss Whedon, 1997)
9/17 reading assignments: 38 pages
·      David Kociemba, “From Beneath You, It Foreshadows: Why Buffy’s First Season Matters,” Joss Whedon Reader. (Syracuse University Press, forthcoming) 22 pages. [PDF uploaded to site BY AUTHOR]
·       Janet K. Halfyard, “Love, Death, Curses, and Reverses (in E minor): Music, Gender, and Identity in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel,” Music, Sound, and Silence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. p. 15-31. (also in course packet, on reserve)
9/17 writing assignment:
·      Write a critical summary on one of the readings or one of the episodes. Post it to the Canvas course web site and bring a copy to class for you to consult.

9/19 viewing assignments: 84 min.
·      Surprise [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2.13] (writer Marti Noxon, dir. Michael Lange, 1998)
·      Innocence [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2.14] (Joss Whedon, 1998)
9/19 reading assignments: 40 pages
·      Rhonda V. Wilcox, “Love and Loss: It’s Not Over: Time, Love, and Loss in ‘Surprise’/’Innocence’,” Why Buffy Matters: The Art of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. p. 111-128.
·      Sherryl Vint, “‘Killing us Softly’? A Feminist Search for the ‘Real’ Buffy,” Slayage: The Online International of Whedon Studies. Volume 2.1, 14 pages. http://slayageonline.com/PDF/vint.pdf
·      Patricia Pender, “‘I’m Buffy, and You’re… History’: the Postmodern Politics of Buffy,” Fighting the Forces. p. 35-44. (also in course packet, on reserve)
9/19 writing assignment:
·      Write a critical summary on one of the readings or one of the episodes. Post it to the Canvas course web site and bring a copy to class for you to consult.

9/24 viewing assignments: 84 min.
·      Becoming [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2.21 & 2.22] (Joss Whedon, 1998)
9/24 reading assignments: 59 pages
·      Alyson Buckman, “Triangulated Desire in Angel and Buffy,” Sexual Rhetoric in the Works of Joss Whedon. (ed. Erin B. Waggoner.) p. 48-92.
·      Gwyn Symonds, “‘A Little More Soul Than Is Written’: James Marsters’ Performance of Spike and the Ambiguity of Evil in Sunnydale,” Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association. 4.4, 15 pages http://slayageonline.com/PDF/symonds2.pdf .
9/24 writing assignment:
·      Write a critical summary on one of the readings or one of the episodes. Post it to the Canvas course web site and bring a copy to class for you to consult.
·      OR: Submit an annotated bibliography for your midterm research paper draft due next week.
·      EXTRA CREDIT: Do both.

Close Readings and Narrative Complexity


9/26 viewing assignment: 42 min.
·      Restless [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 4.22] (Joss Whedon, 2000)
9/25 reading assignments: 45 pages
·      Lauren Kessenich, “‘I’m beginning to understand this now’: Explicating Restless,” Watcher Junior. Issue 5, 34 pages. http://www.watcherjunior.tv/05/kessenich.php 
·      Rhonda V. Wilcox, “Poetry: T. S. Eliot Comes to Television: ‘Restless’,” Why Buffy Matters: The Art of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. p. 162-173.
9/26 writing assignment:
·      Continue writing midterm draft due next class.

10/1 viewing assignment: 42 min.
·      The Body [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 5.16] (Joss Whedon, 2000)
10/1 reading assignment: 27 pages
·       Rhonda V. Wilcox, “Death: They’re Going to Find a Body: Quality Television and the Supernatural in ‘The Body’,” Why Buffy Matters. p. 174-190.
·      Jason Mittell, “Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television,” The Velvet Light Trap, Number 58, Fall 2006, p. 29-40. http://justtv.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/mittell-narrative-complexity.pdf
10/1 writing assignment:
·      Submit draft of midterm research paper. Post it to the Canvas course web site.

Something to Sing About:

Reconsidering Fantasy Heroism after 9/11


10/3 viewing assignment: 42 min.
·      Once More With Feeling [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 6.7] (Joss Whedon, 2001)
10/3 reading assignments: 63 pages
·      Michael Adams, “Buffy and the Death of Style,” Buffy Goes Dark, p. 83-94.
·       Amy Bauer, “‘Give Me Something to Sing About’: Intertextuality and the Audience in ‘Once More, with Feeling’,” Music, Sound, and Silence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. p. 209-234. (also in course packet, on reserve)
·      Janet K. Halfyard, “Singing Their Hearts Out: The Problem of Performance in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.” Buffy, Ballads, and Bad Guys Who Sing. p. 155-172. [E-BOOK on library web site]
·      Rhonda V. Wilcox, “Every Night I Save You: Buffy, Spike, Sex and Redemption,” Why Buffy Matters. p. 79-89.
10/3 writing assignment:                                                  
·      Write peer review of another’s midterm draft. Post it to the Canvas course web site.

The Case of the Evil Dead Lesbian Cliché

10/8 viewing assignment: 168 min.
·      “Seeing Red” (Steven DeKnight, B6019)
·      “Villains” (Marti Noxon, B6020)
·      “Two to Go” (Doug Petrie, B6021)
·      “Grave” (David Fury, B6022)
10/8 reading assignment: 33 pages
·      Alissa Wilts, “Evil, Skanky, and Kinda Gay: Lesbian Images and Issues,” Buffy Goes Dark. (eds. Lynne Edwards, Elizabeth Rambo, and James B. South.) p. 41-56
·      Brandy Ryan, “‘It’s  complicated… because of Tara’: History, Identity Politics, and the Straight White Male Author,” Buffy Goes Dark. (eds. Lynne Edwards, Elizabeth Rambo, and James B. South.) p. 57-75.
10/8 writing assignment:
·      Write a critical summary on one of the readings or one of the episodes. Post it to the Canvas course web site and bring a copy to class for you to consult.

Using Crossovers: The Faith Arc


10/10 viewing assignment: 168 min.
·      “This Year’s Girl” [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 4.15] (writer Doug Petrie, dir. Michael Gershman, 2000)
·      “Who Are You?” [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 4.16] (Joss Whedon, 2000)
·      “Five By Five” [Angel 1.18] (writer Jim Kouf, dir. James A. Contner, 2000)
·      “Sanctuary” [Angel 1.19] (writers Tim Minear and Joss Whedon, dir. Michael Lange, 2000)
10/10 reading assignments: 26 pages
·      Stacey Abbott, “Introduction: ‘A Seminal Show Canceled by the Idiot Networks’,” Angel. Wayne State University Press: 2009. p. 1-8
·      Stacey Abbott, “‘Grrr Aaargh!’: The Collective Vision of Mutant Enemy,” Angel. Wayne State University Press: 2009. p. 9-26.
10/10 writing assignment:
·      Continue writing midterm research paper.

10/15: NO CLASS due to Monday class schedule being observed.

Smile Time: Whedon and Comedy


10/17 viewing assignment: 42 min.
·      “Smile Time” [Angel 5.14] (writers Ben Edlund and Joss Whedon, dir. Edlund, 2004)
10/17 reading assignments: 36 pages
·      Stacey Abbott, “‘It’s a Little Outside the Box’: How Angel Breaks the Rules,” Angel. Wayne State University Press: 2009. p. 83-103
·      Stacey Abbott, “‘Nobody Scream… or Touch My Arms’: The Comic Stylings of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce,” Reading Angel. (ed. Stacey Abbott.) p. 189-202. (also in course packet, on reserve)
10/17 writing assignment:
·      Submit midterm research paper. Post it to the Canvas course web site.

The Serial Monomyth:
Understanding the Series Finale and Long-form Structure

10/22 viewing assignments: 84 min.
·      “Chosen” [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 7.22] (Joss Whedon, 2003)
·      “Not Fade Away” [Angel 5.22] (writers Joss Whedon and Jeffrey Bell, dir. Jeffrey Bell, 2004)
10/22 reading assignments: 97 pages
·      Roz Kaveney, “A Sense of the Ending: Schrödinger’s Angel,” Reading Angel. (ed. Stacey Abbott.) p. 57-72. (also in course packet, on reserve)
·      Roz Kaveney, “‘She Saved the World. A Lot.’ An Introduction to the Themes and Structures of Buffy and Angel.” Reading the Vampire Slayer. 2nd ed. (Roz Kaveney, ed.) 1-82.
·      Read Monomyth handouts
10/22 writing assignment:
·      Write a critical summary on one of the readings or one of the episodes. Post it to the Canvas course web site and bring a copy to class for you to consult.

Firefly I:
Jane Espenson, neo-Auteur of the School of Whedon

10/24 viewing assignment: 42 min.
·      “Shindig” [Firefly 1.4] (writer Jane Espenson, dir. Vern Gillum, 2002)
10/24 reading assignments: 57 pages
·      David Kociemba, “Understanding the Espensode,” Buffy Goes Dark. pages 23-39.
·      Barbara Maio, “Between Past and Future: Hybrid Design Style in Firefly and Serenity,” Investigating Firefly and Serenity. (eds. Rhonda Wilcox and Tanya Cochran). p. 201-211.
·      Roz Kaveney, “Writing the Vampire Slayer: Interviews with Jane Espenson and Steven S. DeKnight,” Reading the Vampire Slayer. pages 100-131.
10/24 writing assignment:
·      Write a critical summary on one of the readings or the episode. Post it to the Canvas course web site and bring a copy to class for you to consult.

10/25: MIDTERM GRADE REPORTS DUE

Firefly II:
Gender Masquerade on the Frontier

10/29 viewing assignment: 42 min.
·      “Our Mrs. Reynolds” [Firefly 1.6] (writer Joss Whedon, dir. Vondie Curtis Hall, 2002)
10/29 reading assignment: 33 pages
·      Mary Anne Doane, “Film and the Masquerade,” The Film Studies Reader. 248-256. (ON RESERVE, IN COURSE PACKET)
·      Andrew Aberdein, “The Companions and Socrates: Is Inara a Hetaera?” Investigating Firefly and Serenity. (eds. Rhonda Wilcox and Tanya Cochran). p. 63-76.
·      David Magill, “‘I Aim to Misbehave’: Masculinities in the ‘Verse,” Investigating Firefly and Serenity. (eds. Rhonda Wilcox and Tanya Cochran). p. 76-86
10/29 writing assignment:
·      Write a critical summary on one of the readings or the episode. Post it to the Canvas course web site and bring a copy to class for you to consult.

Firefly III:

Race and the Whedonesque


10/31 viewing assignment: 119 min.
·      Serenity (Joss Whedon, 2005)
10/31 reading assignments: 71 pages
·      Richard Dyer, “The matter of whiteness,” in White (London and New York: Routledge, 1997), 1-40. [ON RESERVE, IN COURSE PACKET]
·      Agnes B. Curry, “‘We don’t say ‘Indian’”: On the Paradoxical Construction of the Reavers, ” Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association. 7.1, 15 pages. http://slayageonline.com/PDF/Curry2.pdf
·      Rebecca M. Brown, “Orientalism in Firefly and Serenity,” Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association. 7.1, 16 pages. http://slayageonline.com/PDF/Brown.pdf
10/31 writing assignment:
·      Write a critical summary on one of the readings or the film. Post it to the Canvas course web site and bring a copy to class for you to consult.

Can’t Stop the Signal:

Participatory Whedonesque Cultures


11/5 viewing assignment: NONE
11/5 reading assignments: 49 pages
·      Tanya Cochran, “The Browncoats are Coming! Firefly, Serenity, and Fan Activism,” Investigating Firefly and Serenity. (eds. Rhonda Wilcox and Tanya Cochran). p. 239-249.
·      Claudia Rebaza, “The Problematic Definition of ‘Fan’: A Survey of Fannish Involvement in the Buffyverse,” Buffy and Angel Conquer the Internet. p. 147-171.
·      Tanya Cochran, “‘Past the Brink of Tacit Support’: Fan Activism and the Whedonverses,” Tranformative Works and Cultures 10, 2012. http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/331/295
11/5 writing assignment:
·      Write a critical summary on one of the readings. Post it to the Canvas course web site and bring a copy to class for you to consult.

11/7 in-class viewing
·      selected fanvids
11/7 viewing assignment: NONE
11/7 reading assignments: 64 pages
·      Henry Jenkins, “‘Get a Life!’: Fans, Poachers, Nomads,” Textual Poachers, 9-49. (ON RESERVE, IN COURSE PACKET)
·      Kathryn Hill, “‘Easy to Associate Angsty Lyrics with Buffy’: An Introduction to a Participatory Fan Culture: Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Buffy and Angel Conquer the Internet. p. 172-196. (also in course packet, on reserve)
11/7 writing assignment:
·      Write a critical summary on one of the readings. Post it to the Canvas course web site and bring a copy to class for you to consult.
·      OR: Submit annotated bibliography for your final research paper draft due next week.
·      EXTRA CREDIT: Do both.

Fantasy Is His Business… But Not His Purpose:
 Dr. Horrible and Dollhouse

11/12 viewing assignment: 42 min.
·      Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, 2008)
11/12 reading assignments: 57 pages
·      Alyson Buckman. “‘Go Ahead, Run Away! Say it Was Horrible!’: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog as Resistant Text.” Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association 8.1 (2010). 17 pages.  http://slayageonline.com/PDF/Buckman.pdf
·      Kendra Preston Leonard, “‘The Status Is Not Quo’: Gender and Performance in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” Buffy, Ballads and Bad Guys Who Sing. (ed. Kendra Preston Leonard.) p. 275-292. [E-BOOK on library web site]
·      Knowledge@wharton.com, “Joss Whedon’s Plan to Monetize Internet Content (Watch Out, Hollywood),” Joss Whedon: Conversations. (eds. David Lavery and Cynthia Burkhead). p. 175-183 [E-BOOK on library web site]
·      Miranda Banks, “The Picket Line Online: Creative Labor, Digital Activism, and the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America Strike,” Popular Communication, 8: 20–33, 2010. 15 pages. [LIBRARY DATABASES]
11/12 writing assignment:
·      Write a critical summary on one of the readings or the video. Post it to the Canvas course web site and bring a copy to class for you to consult.

11/14 viewing assignment: 42 min.
·      “Man on the Street” [Dollhouse 1.6] (Joss Whedon, 2009-2010)
11/14 reading assignments: 71 pages
·      Tom Connolly and Shelley S. Rees. “Alienation and the Dialectics of History in Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse.” Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association 8.2-3 (2010). 17 pages  http://slayageonline.com/essays/slayage30_31/Connelly_Rees.pdf
·      Eve Bennett. “Deconstructing the Dream Factory: Personal Fantasy and Corporate Manipulation in Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse.” Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association 9.1 (2011). 24 pages. http://slayageonline.com/essays/slayage33/Bennett.pdf
·      Tony M. Vinci, “‘Not an Apocalypse, the Apocalypse’: Existential Proletarisation and the Possibility of Soul in Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse,” Science Fiction Film and Television. Volume 4, Issue 2, (Autumn 2011), p. 225-248. (COURSE PACKET)
·      Joy Press, “Joss Whedon Just Wants to Be Loved,” Salon. http://www.salon.com/2009/02/11/joss_whedon/
11/14 writing assignment:
·      Continue writing final research paper draft due next class.

The Cabin in the Woods:

Gender, Genre, and Excess


11/19 viewing assignment: 95 min.
·      The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon, 2011)
11/19 reading assignments: 30 pages
·      Linda Williams, “Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess,” Film Genre Reader IV. (ed. Barry Keith Grant). p. 140-158. (ON RESERVE, IN COURSE PACKET)
·      Carol J Clover, “Her Body, Himself,” The Film Studies Reader. p. 256-264. (ON RESERVE, IN COURSE PACKET)
·      Laura Berger, “Joss Whedon 101: Cabin in the Woods,” Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion. p. 440-443.
11/19 writing assignments:
·      Research paper draft due. Post it to the Canvas course web site.

The Comics:

Assembling Buffy, Sugarshock, and The Avengers


11/21 reading assignments: 17 pages
·      Begin reading Buffy Season 8 (Joss Whedon, 2007-11)
·      Lauren Schumacher, “The Many Faces of Buffy: An Analysis of the Disharmonious Visual Representations of Buffy Summers in Primary and Secondary Texts,” Watcher Junior. Issue 5, 17 pages. http://www.watcherjunior.tv/05/schumacher.php [NOTE: due to the graphics-heavy nature of this piece, it may take a while to load]
11/21 writing assignment:
·      Write a peer review of a final paper draft. Post it to the Canvas course web site.

11/26 reading assignments: 82 pages
·      Continue reading Buffy Season 8 (Joss Whedon, 2007-11)
·      Sugarshock! (Joss Whedon, Fàbio Moon, 2009) 40 pages
·      Roz Kaveney, “Gifted and Dangerous: Joss Whedon’s Superhero Obsession,” Superheroes!: Capes and Crusaders in Comics and Films. 201-225 [E-book in library]
·      Patrick Shand, “Joss Whedon 101: Fray,” Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion. p. 307-310.
·      Cesar R. Bustamente Jr., “Joss Whedon 101: Astonishing X-Men,” Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion. p. 310-313.
·      Dr. Shathley Q., “Tom Brokaw’s Coat: Joss Whedon, Astonishing X-Men, and the Accessibility of History,” Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion. p. 313-320.
·      Jack Milson, “Sugarshock!,” Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion. p. 334-337.
11/26 writing assignment:
·      Write a critical summary on one of the readings or a comic. Post it to the Canvas course web site and bring a copy to class for you to consult.

THANKSGIVING BREAK

12/3 reading assignments: 45 pages
·      Finish reading Buffy Season 8 (Joss Whedon, 2007-11)
·      Patrick Shand, “Joss Whedon 101: After the Fall,” Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion. p. 324-329.
·      Kevin Chiat, “Giant Dawn and Mutant Superheroes: Joss Whedon in Comics,” Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion. p. 341-352.
·      Patrick Shard, “Much with the Moral Ambiguity: An Examination of the Fallen Heroes and Redeemed Villains in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 and Angel: After the Fall,” Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion. p. 361-367.
·      Stacey Abbott. “It (Re-)Started with a Girl: The Creative Interplay between TV and Comics in Angel: After the Fall.” The Literary Angel. (eds. AmiJo Comeford and Tamy Burnett.) p. 221-232. (also in course packet, on reserve)
·      Helene Frohard-Dourlent, “‘Lez-faux’ Representations: How Buffy Season Eight Navigates the Politics of Female Heteroflexibility.” Sexual Rhetoric in the Works of Joss Whedon: New Essays. (ed. Erin B. Waggoner.) p. 31-47.
12/3 writing assignment:
·      Write a critical summary on one of the readings or a comic. Post it to the Canvas course web site and bring a copy to class for you to consult.

12/5 viewing assignment: 142 min.
·      The Avengers (Joss Whedon, 2012)
12/5 reading assignments: 24 pages
·      Derek Johnson, “Cinematic Destiny: Marvel Studios and the Trade Stories of Industrial Convergence,” Cinema Journal 52:1 Fall 2012. p. 1-24 (LIBRARY DATABASE)
12/5 writing assignment:
·      Work on research paper due next week.

12/7: COLLEGE-WIDE MAKEUP DAY: LEAVE OPEN IN YOUR WORK SCHEDULES

Much Ado About Nothing:

The Fannish Shakespeare Adaptation


12/10 viewing assignment: 109 min.
·      Much Ado About Nothing (Joss Whedon, 2012)
12/10 reading assignments: NONE
12/10 writing assignment:
·      Work on research paper due next meeting.

12/11: COLLEGE-WIDE READING DAY, NO CLASSES

12/17 10:30 am—12:30 pm: Final research paper due; MANDATORY CLASS

12/20: GRADES DUE AT NOON


2 comments:

  1. Putting this syllabus together has been a challenge. Joss is basically our generation's Howard Hawks, with a notable work in seemingly every genre and medium. website

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oooh, this seminar sounds so fun! Ah, the joys of being an undergrad. How I miss it so.

    And, I'm totally Wish Listing that new book. Looks great.

    ReplyDelete