Feb 14. Threats to the Future & Utopia, Book II

Housekeeping

  • If you did not complete a panel presentation or class lead that you were scheduled for, please email me for a make-up date by Monday, Feb 18. If you do not email me for a make-up date, you will earn a zero for the assignment.
  • We have a guest speaker on Tuesday, February 19, so Class Leads for Thursday, February 21 please come prepared with an overview highlights from today’s discussion of Utopia Book II and the guest speaker as well. Class Lead discussion questions for 2/21 should cover the first act of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. You can read The Tempest in hard copy or online.

Freewrite

Take 5-8 minutes and respond to the following prompt without stopping:
What do you think poses the single greatest threat to the future of life on earth? Why?

Class Leads

  • Recap main points from Tuesday’s discussion of Utopia, book I and then write your favorite discussion question from Utopia, Book II on the board. Everyone else, take a couple of minutes to think through the questions, and we will chat about them.

Class Section Students
1102. F3 Nicholas, Audrey & Jackson
1102.HP2 Nicholas & Andrew T.
1102.D3. Nikhil, Kelsey, & Sahchi

Elements of Utopia

Take 2 minutes and think through the following: according to Raphael, how has the elimination of private property transformed the following elements of Utopian society.

(Time permitting: when you are ready, explain how at least two elements have transformed under the topic heading on the board.)

  • Geography/city and neighborhood planning
  • Interpersonal and social relationships
  • Labor Practices and slavery
  • Economic Practices
  • Religion and moral philosophy
  • Travel and trade
  • Education
  • Law
  • Government

 

31 Jan. Video Analysis & Sheldon

Announcements

  • 1. The calendar has been updated to reflect the cancellation.
  • 2. If you haven’t, don’t forget to post your Scene Analysis by 11:59 tonight. Remember to click the correct category. If I can’t find the post, I can’t score it.

Overview: Scene Analysis

What are the some formal elements of film and how do those elements produce meaning?
  • 1. Composition
  • 2. Sound
  • 3. Photography
  • 4. Editing
  • 5. Audience (Modes of Address)

Walking Dead, Ep. 1 “Cold Open”

 

Activity: Scene Analysis

We are all going to watch a scene from the first episode of The Waking Dead, and then you can respond to the following in groups:

Group One: Composition

What happens during the scene at the level of plot and how do you know? To answer this question describe the formal features of the composition of the scene and then explain the significance of those features:

  • 1. Frame (open form or closed?)
  • 2. Space (cluttered, empty, relation to plot/character)
  • 3. Design (balanced or unbalanced, stylized, natural, period specific?)
  • 4. Point of View (isolated or closed-in, obscured, centered, off-center, exchanges with others?)

Group Two: Sound

What’s the goal of the  sound in the scene and how does the it reinforce the overall meaning? To answer this question describe formal features of sound to the scene and then explain the significance of those features:

  • 1. Music (popular, classical, where’s it coming from?); sound effects (artificial, natural, subjective, where do they come from?)
  • 2. Sound effects (artificial, natural, subjective, where do they come from?)
  • 3. Voice over/narration (who’s speaking and where, what’s their relationship to the action, are they reliable?)

Group Three: Photography, Part I

What’s the goal of the photography in the scene and how does the sound reinforce the overall meaning? To answer this question describe the formal features of photography in the scene and then explain the significance of those features:

  • 1. Lens (normal, telephoto, wide angle, distorting lens, macro)
  • 2. Focus (who or what is in or out of focus; deep focus; soft focus; rack focus; sharp focus)
  • 3. Camera movement (panning shot, tracking shot: from above, below, in/out/circular; zoom in or out, slow or fast; zip pan; tilt shot; handheld shot; camera on vehicle)
  • 4. Angle (high angle, low angle, eye-level, oblique angle, extreme angle, etc.)

Group Four: Photography, Part II

What’s the goal of the photography in the scene and how does the sound reinforce the overall meaning? To answer this question describe the formal features of photography in the scene and then explain the significance of those features:

  • 1. Lighting (realistic, high contrast, high key/low key, special lighting effects, natural lighting)
  • 2. Color (black and white/color/sepia; warm/cold/strong/washed-out colors; symbolic use of colors; subjective use of colors; colors linked to certain characters; progression of the use of colors throughout a film)
  • 3. Special effects (freeze frame/slow/fast/reverse motions/filters/odd or impossible point of view/matting/computer-generated images, etc.)
  • 4. Types of shot (establishing shot/point-of-view shot/reaction shot/shot-counter shot/insert shot/subjective cutaway/flashback shot)

Group Five: Editing

What’s the goal of the editing in the scene and how do editing choices reinforce the overall meaning? To answer this question describe the formal features of editing in the scene and then explain the significance of those features:

  • 1. Position of segment (what comes before and what comes after)
  • 2. Transition techniques (cut/dissolve/fade in or out/wipe/jump cut/iris in or out)
  • 3. Length of individual shots (do shots seem extremely long in duration or particularly short, does the director hold on a certain face or landscape after the action has been played out, etc.)
  • 4. Rhythm/pace (flowing/jerky/disjointed/more panning shots than cuts/fast-paced/slow-paced/unusually long takes/ do certain sequences “feel” different than others in terms of their rhythm?)

Group Six: Audience (Modes of Address)

What’s the goal of the modes of address in the scene and how do those choices reinforce the overall meaning? To answer this question describe the modes of address in the scene and then explain the significance of those features:

  • 1. Does the film acknowledge the spectator, or do events transpire as if no one were present? Do characters look into the camera or pretend it is not there, for instance?
  • 2. How does the film position the spectator vis a vis the onscreen events? Are we made to favor certain characters, to respond in certain ways to certain events (say, through music that “tells” us how to respond or distances us from the action).
  • 3. Acting (stylized/natural/idiosyncratic; does one actor use a different style than others)
  • 4. Costumes (social coding; symbolic use of clothing; clothing as an extension of personal style; clothing as an extension of decor)

Sheldon, “Future”

We’ll work though these questions as a class:
  • 1. According to Sheldon, what’s the connection between images of the Blue Planet and images of children?
  • 2. According to Sheldon, what does environmentalism do well?
  • 3. What are some problems with environmentalism that Sheldon points out?
  • 4. What is Sheldon’s response to the problems she identifies with the ways that environmentalism figures the future? OR, How can we have forms of life and without the privileging of security, certainty, or closure promoted by popular environmentalism?

 

Lapore, “A Golden Age for Dystopian Fiction” (1-9)

Directions

Keep the following questions in mind as you read Jill Lapore’s , “A Golden Age for Dystopian Fiction” (1-9). The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

What are some examples of recently released movies, TV shows, or games set in the future?

Are those futures good or bad? What makes the future worlds in the new media you cite good or bad?

Why are there so few children in the books and movies that Lapore cites her in her article?

Why is life so boring for the inhabitants of the fictional worlds that Lapore cites her in her article?

What is a dystopia? According to Lapore, why do dystopias follow utopias?

To what strains of just prior social and cultural production does Lapore argue the current crop of dystopian fiction respond?

When did authors first begin to write utopian worlds? When and why did dystopian worlds emerge?

To what “present-day dilemma[s]” do newly published dystopian novels respond (5)?

Near the end of her essay, Lapore argues, “This move [turning dreams to nightmares] isn’t new or  daring; it is, instead, very old. The question is whether it is all used up” (6). What do you think? Is the form of the nightmare future “all used up”?

How do we deal with the problem that the plans we make for the future or worlds we build now can/always do lead to disaster? In other words, how do we deal with the fact that “utopias contain their own dystopias” (6)?

What accounts for the overlap between Utopia/Dystopia and American teenagers?

What does Lapore mean when she says, “Every Dystopia is a history of the future” (8)?

 

Theoretical Analysis

Prompt

According to one or more of the authors we have read so far this semester, how does the concept of the future affect society, ecology, or technology? 

  • 1. For full credit your response to the prompt above must be at least 500 words long.
  • 2. Please also cite and analyze at least one passage from the theoretical text you chose and then synthesize your analysis into the larger argument you make in response to the prompt.
  • 3. All Blog Posts must be in MLA format when applicable and also include a featured image. The image you choose can illustrate claims made in the post, or you may want to pull a still image from the contemporary movie, TV show, or video game you plan to analyze for the Vide Essay.