C LIT 240 F Who is Watching Us: Writing about Films and Cinematic Life

Who is watching us? This is a question that haunts our daily life as it is produced across time, space, and cultures, particularly across the genres of visual practice: graphic art, theatre, photography, cinema, television, surveillance, etc. In terms of “who”, you might think of the audience off the stage, the neighbors, or a crowd of bystanders; the security camera, google, Big Brother, or private detective or any kind of “spy”; moral witnesses, the phantom public, the mirror, God, history, the alien…..and even yourself/ourselves. Then why does it matter to think about who is watching us? How would we present and project ourselves if we may or may not know that we are being watched? Who is watching, who is being watched, and how are the two interrelated? Considering cinema as a parameter and as method, this course is designed to help you become a strong writer who can construct critically and deliver effectively in particular writing contexts by approaching and exploring such questions.
In this course, we will learn to explore, execute, utilize, and also reflect on the interrelated power of both written and visual language through the medium of film analysis. This course covers a multitude of both historical and contemporary cultural artifacts including fiction films such as The Truman Show and Cache; documentaries and the avant-garde such as Yunbogi’s Diary and Screen Tests; animated films such as Good Vibrations and I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors; TV series and shows like Black Mirror and What Would You Do; mockumentaries and other forms of video art such as Whose Eyes and Look. We will also take a critical look at our cinematic experiences in relation to a kaleidoscope of film stills, paratexts, iconic images, or collages that fleetingly cross people’s perception and memory in the everyday life. These different “texts” around cinema and moviegoing will serve as an immersive setting for your writing adventure as well as function as a toolbox of living archives with which your writing will deal and interact.