This page covers the courses that I have designed and led while Guest Lecturing in U.S. Film and Media at the Culture Department of the John F. Kennedy Institute, North American Studies, Free University Berlin.
Winter, 2015-2016: Chalkface Rhetorics
BA Course. Chalkface Rhetorics: The Politics of the Classroom in U.S Film and Social Media
The practical and ideological role of American formal education has, since the nation’s inception, been a pivotal agent in articulating its democratic assumptions and in forwarding its aspirations towards equal opportunity. From Blackboard Jungle (Brooks, 1955) to The Great Debaters (Washington, 2007), the subject of schooling has, not surprisingly, emerged as a challenging and often lucrative Hollywood sub-genre that uniquely and explicitly addresses issues of hegemony, discourse, and resistance. The course will include but then advance beyond such Hollywood representations of the classroom to critically consider competing representations of education (from the Public School, the Charter School to the ‘Corporatized University’) as they have recently emerged across social media platforms. Our principle goal is to address how these rhetorical formulations are already instrumental in shaping the charged education policy debates for the coming 2016 Presidential Election. Final Student Response Papers will find support in class discussions and formal lectures as based on selected readings in rhetorical persuasion, media literacy and educational theory, and as supplemented by related class viewings.
Winter, 2014-2015: Hollywood in the Newsroom
Contemporary concerns about corporate U.S.A understandably critique corporate influences on areas such as policy and the public sphere. This course will focus on that strand of growing media influences that, since the 1970s, have witnessed the incorporation of public news broadcasting within the wider corporate field (ABC/Disney; NBC/General Electric; CBS/Sony). More specifically, we will critically consider one sub-genre strand of Hollywood films that in this time has itself represented the querulous bind between leading private corporations andthe impact of their mergers on journalist practices and resultant news quality. Areas of critical enquiry of student essays and presentations can therefore range from media policy (the Fairness Doctrine), media ownership (Telecommunications Act of 1996), issues of free speech (Chomsky), and representations of gender and news working practices in Hollywood cinema since Network, 1976.
(The course draws upon Dr. Taylor’s book publication: We, the media: Pedagogic Intrusions into U.S. Mainstream Film and Television News Broadcasting Rhetorics, Peter Lang, GmbH, enclosed).
Spring/Summer, 2009: Hollywood`s Lonely Place.
– VS/PS –
|Hollywood’s Lonely Place: Screenwriting Cultures since the 1920s (BA, Vertiefungsmodul A, Vertiefungsseminar) ; (im Magisterstudiengang ist dies ein PS, 2 SWS, 7 ECTS-credits) Mo 18.00-20.00 – ZI JFKI Lansstr. 7-9, 340 (Hörsaal)||(20.4.)||Alan Taylor|
|In terms of its ideological and cultural influence, ‘Hollywood’ is arguably the world’s most influential global industry. As that industry has rhetorically positioned itself as only ‘entertainment’, so, since the 1920s, the work of its writers have been cast by producers as marginalised features of its industrial process.However, the recent Hollywood writer’s strike of 2008 confounded this assumption, highlighting as it did how the multi-billion dollar enterprise still relies on a sequential pipeline that starts with a pen, pencil, keyboard and Union affiliation.This course is a timely opportunity, therefore, to centre stage the screenwriting process – from the 1920s to the present. At its core, participant’s three short essays and shared round table deliveries will focus on developing skills in media literacy by way of analysing the interpretative process from script to screen, and via a critical engagement with the work of case study writers and changing working practices – from film and television to contemporary New Digital Media.In addition, one aim of in-course review and feedback on such essays is to develop and enhance student’s own written skills in precision, drafting and editing.Our work overall will build upon student’s interests in American culture, politics, and history and can lead to a 20-page Research Paper.”|
Winter/Spring 2008-2009: Hollywood Snoops.
Newly arriving prospective students should be interested in this 2-page document which was the basis of our introduction session: at-snoops-jfk-i-intro-0809
Spring/Summer 2008: Amercian Yodas.
– VS –
American Yodas (BA Vertiefungsmodul A, Vertiefungsseminar) ; (im Magisterstudiengang ist dies ein Proseminar, 2 SWS, 7 ECTS credits) Mo 12.00-14.00 – ZI JFKI Lansstr. 7-9, 340 (Hörsaal) (14.4.) Alan Taylor
The practical and ideological role of American formal education is pivotal in articulating the nation’s democratic assumptions and in forwarding its aspirations towards equal opportunity, a fact not lost in Presidential Election Year 2008.
This course included but then advanced beyond these genre-specific accounts to consider American film form and narrative in general and through the prism of contrasting learning theories (from Watson/behaviorism, through Bruner/cognitive to Gigerenzer/heuristics).
• In keeping with certain behaviorist principles, schein/credit rewards were gained for 80% + attendance and the completion of two short essays. These were written, and subject to written feedback during the course.
• Research Paper opportunities were designed to attract the professional interest and intellectual ambitions of students of psychology, pedagogic practice, and applied film/ media theory.”
Winter/Spring 2007-2008: Hollywood on Hollywood.
“Aims & Objectives:
– celebrate student’s skills in critical thinking, powers of analysis and individual initiative
– introduce students new &familiar to film studies to U.S cinema history &working practices
– explore aspects of genre, narrative &representation in mainstream film
– pinpoint and explore key moments in film theory
– critically engage with present U.S / international digital filmmaking production, exhibition and distribution networks
The spine of the course will focused on key aspects of mainstream American cinema – the most influential and pervasive form of global mass media in the 20th Century. The course balanced introductory sessions on traditional industry, studio working practices and storytelling paradigms with core features of post-1958 film theory. Applied practical criticism focused on two renowned films on Hollywood itself – Vincent Minnelli’s The Bad and the Beautiful (1954) and Robert Altman’s The Player (1992) -, which we will share as seminar texts. Documentary excerts on film history, technology, genre and certain directors (Fuller, Hopper) supported the programme.
Close reference to contemporary global developments in digital filmmaking as emerging from the United States informed our enquiries. Amongst other things, therefore, we considered the viability & relevance of traditional film practice, industry and criticism in the 21st century.
Spring/Summer 2007: Framing News.
“George Clooney’s “Good Night and Good Luck” (2005) takes its significant and timely place in a Hollywood genre lineage that, since the 1970s, has assumed to represent the development of U.S. television. The film’s critical and commercial success – as topped by 2006 Oscar recognitions – confirm how relevant these issues remain for present-day audiences. This course places “Good Night and Good Luck” in a deep historical context by focusing critically on former Hollywood films that, from the 1970s to the 1990s, also assumed to represent the working practices of U.S. broadcast news, cable news media and Reality TV. The spine of the course will therefore explore how ten corporate intertextualities – from Network (20th Century Fox, 1976) to The Insider (Touchstone, 1999) – reflected public disquiet about media ownership, gender representation, corporate mergers, free speech, new technologies, war coverage, and even the influential powers of market journalism itself. In addition, our study was enriched by contextual histories, which, since the 1920s, consider relevant legal, institutional and political interventions in the early development of the U.S. public media. This le to a Case Study analysis of cable news coverage post 9/11. The course was an update of a book publication by the Course Leader which itself became the focus of intense public and on-air debate during 2005 General Elections in Eastern Europe:
More information: http://wethemedia.edublogs.org/hello-welcome/”