Click on the image to enlarge it.
Click on the image to enlarge it.
I mentioned in class that I would be posting an extra-credit assignment. It will be worth one point on your final grade for the course, so that if your final grade adds up to, say, 89 B+, that extra point will magically transform your grade to 90 A-.
The assignment is to view a film in current theatrical release, or a recent film that has come out on DVD during the past year, and write a paragraph of 3-5 sentences in which you discuss the film in the context of the course (that is, in terms of the formal film elements, and the concepts we’ve discussed in the second half of the course, such as ideology, social context, auteurism, etc.).
You have until Monday, December 23 (at midnight) to send me your extra-credit assignment. (Send it to me by email or ELMS message).
For our last class in this course, on Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010) and the future of film, I was most interested in discussing two things:
1. How your experience of watching Inception now compares/contrasts with your experience of watching the film the first time. (That is, if you’ve seen it before).
2. How you think Inception represents the future of film (as industry and pastime).
Since we can’t meet in class tonight, please write a short paragraph (3-5 sentences) on ONE of the two topics above.
For #1, I basically want to see what you’ve learned – and learned to notice – in watching films during the semester. That is, in Inception
For #2, I want to know what you think of Inception in the context of the assigned reading for this week, the last chapter in your textbook, entitled “Cinema as Industry: Economics and Technology.” That is, how does Inception – in its formal construction and in its themes – embody current conceptions of film-making as a business, and in the way it utilizes technology? More specifically, how is Inception a blockbuster, and how is it not?
Please post your paragraph on your personal blog, and I’ll read it there.
Sometimes, when attempting to leave a comment at a student blog, you see a message that says “awaiting moderation.” And, depending on how the student blog is set up, you’re message might seem to disappear – which is disconcerting if you’ve spent five or ten minutes working on your comment (it hasn’t really disappeared).
Or, you get an email message saying that there is a comment awaiting moderation at your student blog. Being unable to leave a comment, or being constantly bothered about moderation – in either case, it’s annoying. But there are ways to fix it so that you don’t have to worry about moderation.
Moderation means you have to personally approve every comment that appears at your blog. To avoid this, and to avoid having your classmates get frustrated when they try to comment at your blog, you just have to un-check a few check boxes on the administrative page of your blog.
Here are more precise directions.
Log in to your blog. You may have a browser bookmark, or another quick way to get to your blog. If not, you could just go to the main WordPress page…
… and log in there.
Once you log in, the main page that comes up should be your “My Blogs” page (if not, the link for the “My Blogs” page is in the menu at the top of the page.
I have many blogs but you probably have just one, your blog for ENGL245. Find the “Blog Admin” link under the name of your blog.
Click on that. Your “Dashboard” page will appear. Hopefully you are already familiar with this page (since you have been posting at your blog).
You want to go to your “Settings” page. The link to that page can be found near the bottom of the menu on the left side of the “Dashboard” page. When you move your cursor over “Settings,” a submenu appears.
In the submenu, click on “Discussion.”
That takes you to your “Discussion Settings” page.
Midway down the page you will find a series of check boxes.
For “Email me whenever” there are five check boxes. The first two check boxes (“anyone posts a comment” and “a comment is held for moderation”) should be unchecked.
For “Before a comment appears” there are two check boxes (“an administrator must always approve comment” and “comment author must have previously approved comment”). These two check boxes should be unchecked.
Once the boxes are unchecked, scroll down to the blue “Save Changes” button and click it.
Then you can logout and/or exit your blog (I usually exit without logging out, so that I can access my “Dashboard” whenever I go to my blog, without having to go to the main WordPress page first).
For your first preliminary assignment for this course, you’ll need to register and set up your personal WordPress blog, and then send me your WordPress user name and the URL of your blog. via ELMS message or email. That’s so I can read and grade your blog during the course, and add it to the student blogs listed on the class blog. You can also leave your WordPress login name and the URL of your blog in a reply to this blog entry.
For your second preliminary assignment for this course, you’ll need to review our ELMS course site, if you haven’t done so already, and the course blog.
1. To get your free WordPress blog, go to WordPress:
You’ll see an orange button that says “Create your WordPress.com blog now!” Click on the button and follow the directions. It shouldn’t take you more than five minutes to set up.
Once your personal blog is set up, you can personalize and configure it, using your blog “Dashboard.” For instance, if you click on the “Appearance” link in the left side menu of your Dashboard, you can choose from many different “themes” and customize your “widgets.” If you have questions or ideas about the configuration of your blog, don’t hesitate to ask me about it.
For a brief orientation about blogging at WordPress, try this site:
2. Here is the URL for ELMS, the course management system for all your courses at UMD, including ENGL245:
Once you log in to ELMS, find ENGL245 in your list of courses and click on the link, The first page you’ll see at ENGL245 is the home page, which shows the course syllabus, with the assignments listed at the bottom of the page. Review the syllabus and the assignments.
Once you’ve done that, you can turn your attention to the course blog.
You are reading this at the course blog. The menu at the top of this page, and every page on the course blog, has the links to the static pages. Right now, besides the “About” page, there is a page that describes the online exercises for the course, and another page for the syllabus.
You’ve already reviewed the syllabus at ELMS, so you don’t need to pay attention to that page right now.
But do look at the “Online Exercises” page, at this URL:
The Blog Response Post assignment is described here:
1. Focusing on characters and plot rather than themes and formal film elements in your film analysis paragraph.
2. Falling into “review mode” in your film analysis paragraph. That is, you evaluate whether the film (in your opinion) was good or bad, successful or unsuccessful, rather than analyzing the themes presented in the film, or considering the critical problems suggested by the film.
3. Lack of critical context in your main topic focus paragraph. In other words, it’s evident that you haven’t attentively read the weekly assigned reading (the textbook and my posts on the course blog). Remember: A good Blog Response Post will engage the main ideas of the course, as discussed in assigned reading. You don’t have to quote or cite assigned reading, but you should be familiar with the main ideas found in them, and find opportunities to mention them in your blog posts.
4. Lack of thesis statement in your critical argument paragraph: You should begin your critical argument paragraph with a thesis statement, which is a debatable point that needs to be supported with evidence from the film and citations from critical authorities (such as my film essays posted on the course blog, and the course textbook). The rest of the critical argument paragraph should be a development of your thesis statement. Without a thesis statement, and a paragraph that flows out of the thesis statement, the critical argument paragraph gets taken over by description, and the argument tends to ramble, making it difficult for the reader to follow what you’re trying to say.
I have noticed over the years that students often end their critical argument paragraph with a thesis statement (as a kind of summing up). That’s often how people write a first draft. This suggests you need to write another draft. You can just take the concluding thesis, rephrase it, and put it at the beginning of your paragraph. Then tweak the rest of the paragraph so that it flows from the thesis statement. Often time, if you do this enough, you’ll get in the habit of coming up with a thesis statement first, and learn to develop it into an paragraph-length critical argument.
5. Using “I” language: Particularly in your critical argument paragraph, when you qualify your statements with phrases such as “I believe…” and “in my opinion…”, you undercut the persuasiveness of your argument. Generally, once you take the “I” language out, you realize you don’t really need it. It also forces you to take a position in a debate, and defend that position. Remember: your job is to analyze the film rather than state your opinion, discuss how the film personally affected you, or determine whether the film was successful or not.