Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Welcome back.

1. I really hope everyone remembers where we are at today... Oh well. I want you to come up to the board, pick up a pen and write down some ideas/topics you have thought of over the break. Write your name and a couple (more than one, less than 5). Don't worry so much if your ideas are repeated by others. Once you have finished writing your ideas, go back to your computer and find our forum. You might take a few minutes familiarizing yourself with it (if you haven't been here before) or reading the comments since you last visited. This assignment should take no longer than 10minutes.

2. Ok now the forum. If you haven't done so, now you must. Open a new window with this URL (right-click it and select 'open in a new window'
Write down this url, you will be visiting it over the next couple weeks. I grade your participation on this forum, so you should visit and participate (by reading and commenting) frequently. On the top bar, you will see many buttons. You will have to click some, fill out some cells so you can become a member, and then we will move on.
  • First, click the ENGLISH button to switch to English. In class, we will always use this.
  • Next, click "LOG IN," if you are already a member, or "CLICK HERE TO JOIN THIS COMMUNITY" if you haven't become a member over the break.
  • Finally, if you did not log in and comment over the vacation, do so now. Please make sure you are logged in and comment in the "welcome to the winter forum" topic, and write something short, like 'hello,' just to show me you can do it. If you have already commented on the forum (if you commented over vacation) you do not need to comment now.
  • If you did comment ov
3. Discussing the brainstorm on the board.

4. Important. We have one week until presentations begin, so you will have to do some work outside of class, using the forum. I did say that ifyou chose not to participate in the conversation over the break that you would have to catch up when we got back. I was not kidding. By the end of class today, you will need to have a group and a topic/text/focus, or, barring a specific topic/text/focus, you will at least need to have a short list of possible topics.

5. Today's assignment: Each group will need to talk with me (briefly) about their possible topic and then should create a topic on the forum with a team name... (not all the members of your group, that will be in your first post). Make it something catchy or fun, something that tells others what your topic is about. Some examples might be "Subject 28" for a group working on Akira -- is that too deep? or "Team Ghost" for a group working on Oshii's Ghost in the Shell, "Catbus Stop" for a team working on Totoro which is not, technically, SF but you get the idea: that cool looking Catbus is an important character in the film, so this title... yeah. Think about it.
Once your group has decided and one ofyou has created a forum topic, teammates (and others as well who want to help, offer advice, etc.) will share their findings, questions, comments, thoughts, strategies, links, etc. in the forum. Use the forum to communicated with each other. If you find something cool like a URL or other piece(s) of information, or thought of something when you watched the text, post it, write about it. (Did you notice what I did there? check it out, if you did, it might be helpful). Discuss your topic, students. Do so outside of class. Your presentation will be underdeveloped if you think you can just work on this in class -- that simply isnt enough time.
Use the forum to create specific a specfici focus or list of tasks for each student so you can all participate in the presentation. Once you have found a topic your group should decide how you will go about finding out about it from the primary and (if necessary) secondary texts. Brainstorm on where to look. Assign students to specific tasks. Get to work, and use the forum as a way to track what you have done and comment on what others have done.

6. The rest of class today is a work-in-class day. You have a lot to do. If you have questions, or comments, ask, or post them here in our forum's new question post.

Tomorrow we will have more time to work in the lab, and share ideas. I will also (maybe) demonstrate a presentation. You will (hopefully) help me create criteria I can use to grade this assignment -- specifically the presentation.

And starting tomorrow, we will switch to the forum for computer lab assignments as well -- why not. That is where you will be posting, why not get right on it and cut out the class blog.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

12/14 Working on U4 assignment

Hello. Not a lot to say today but you should read it all becuase there are specific instructions. Your choice.

I am guessing many of you could use some more time and guidance on this assignment, I'm hip, I understand. The problem is those of you who probably need help the most are often the least likely to ask. Thus today, I have made no specific plan, beyond a short (5-10minute) writing assignment, due before you leave class. If you wish to speak with me in class, please write your name on the board. I will spend a maximum of 5 minutes with any student if there are others waiting to talk with me. I will try to see everyone who wants to talk with me. If I have seen you early in the class and you want to talk again, you may write your name on the board again.

In class, I will allow you to work on whatever you wish, but suggest you spend your class developing your outlines (the finished assignment-thing that will be turned in Friday). By now, you should have seen your film/show and have begun to do some research, finding articles and other information online or in books. By the end of today, you must have a research question and a thesis developed, and should have begun to read and take notes on your research. By friday you need an outline with a thesis, a work cited page (MLA format) that lists the materials you used in your research, and copies of the sources you used. I am expecting you to use four or more sources, and prefer that most (if not all) are in English.

In-class writing assignment: Please answer the following two questions.
  1. What is your research question ? What are you specifically looking for?
  2. What is your 'best guess' answer to your question? What do you expect to find? What specifically do you think you will find in your research? BTW (by the way), this 'best guess' answer to your research question is often times your thesis. Notice I said specific? I mean it.

Notes on writing a strong, useful thesis
. You might want to look at the OWL site (or here, if you are confused about what a thesis/research question is) about helping you write a thesis. Notice the site makes a distinction between reasearch question and thesis? I want you to ask a question and then answer it. That makes this an analytical reasearch paper, I beleive.

Example Thesis
. A thesis that says, "The characters of Film X tells us various things about women" is empty and is not a good thesis.
so too a thesis similar to "Many things have changed for women over time" while better, again expresses almost no specific information.
Make your thesis strong and relevant: make sure it clearly states something important, something memorable.
"The character in Film X depict women as ____ and this tells us that women are ____"
"The role of women in society has changed dramatically over the past ___ years, especially in regards to ___"
You would of course, need to fill in the blanks with SPECIFIC information, not VAGUE statements that require interpretation by the reader.

Links for outlines (from OWL -- i love OWL!). Here are some more. A link to MLA formatting (for work cited page) AND how to use quotations in text. There is even something on alphabetizing your work cited, something I know some of you need to work on.

I think that is it for now. Good luck, and please ask questions!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

researching our friday film

Not a lot on the forum today. By midnight tonight, I would like you to do as Eribou has done and post a comment about this Friday's film and your choice on which we should watch. Below I have given you the names of the films, as well as their length. One thing to note about the film The Brother from Another Planet is that there are NO Subtitles.

In class, I hope there will be a little time for you to do some reading and discussion of these two films in small groups. I will aslo try to show the trailers for both films so you can get a feel for them. Places to look for information about these films. Obviously, I expect you to be able to do your own research, but to give you some other options beyond IMDB.com (which is a good place to look, especially in their forums). You are free to do your own research as well, and I encourage you to look at more sites than just the ones I mentioned, I offer these if you are feeling a bit lazy, or need a place to begin.

Contact (1997) 153minutes.
Rottentomatoes.com -- many quoteable reviews here. High rating (76% of critics like it)
Here is a link for the plot of the film.
trailer might work, this one should work.
In IMDb.com, I suggest looking at the forums to see what other, regular viewers have said about these films. It can be fun. Be careful: sometimes these forums contain 'spoliers' information that gives away what happens in the film. Some people don't like to know so much about what they will watch.

Brother from Another Planet (1984) 110minutes.
Rottentomatoes.com -- lots of review quotes on this film. Notice it's very high rating (100% of reviewers gave it a positive rating)
Synopsis (plot) of the film is interesting to read as well.
Yahoo overview and links
Online Trailer -- don't know if this will work.
There are far fewer forum threads on Brother at IMDb.com, but they might still be useful.

Notice, we will not hae time to finish either in class, but we will see most of them and I will probably run them all the way through (you can leave at the end of class just like with 12Monkeys, if you want/need to go).

Please post on the previous forum NOT this one. Please post on Monday's forum.

Monday, December 05, 2005

12/05 room5204

In today's class, I will hand back your most recent papers on Sarah Connor and the Terminator films. I want you to read the comments, we will be using them in our conversation about Tank Girl. My hope is we will spend about 30-40minutes on Tank Girl, but be warned, if there is no participation, we will spend longer (meaning less time to work on your presentations).

Tank Girl:
I hope our conversation will be weighty, useful, and to the point and based on your comments in your papers, I can see that you are quite capable of finding and discussing interesting, salient issues in the films. Now I would like to see you share these ideas in class. The other choice is a short writing. I will make this clear. If you have nothing to say in class, you will have a writing assignment about this film. Period. End of discussion. With that not-so-subtle threat hanging there, let me assure you that this is not a discussion where there is a 'right' answer. There is however, a 'wrong' answer -- silence and lack of effort which to me are equated and similar. You have had time to think about it, you have had time to discuss it, now is a chance to share your ideas. If you won't (I don't say can't since most of you show the ability in writing) you will write about it. Some of the issues I want us to think about in class are to consider more fully:
  • The role of the Tank in this film. I asked Friday 'what is the tank?' It is a symbol but a symbol of what?
  • The role of Rebecca and her qualities -- masculine, feminine, or 'other.' (and what the heck does 'other' mean.
  • The motivation for Rebecca and the similarities/differences between her motivation and that of other women in films we have watched.
  • The character off Kesslee. How would you describe him? How long did it take you to figure out he was the bad guy?
  • This film we have viewed during this unit should highlight the differences between sex (male or female) and gender. Can you explain these terms, how they are connected as well as how they are different?
Tomorrow we will hopefully finish three presentations. As you should know, each presentation should take between 15-20 minutes and should inform the class about the subject your group has chosen, what you were looking to find, what you found and why it is relevant/important to study. I would like to have each person in the group add to the presentation. Furthermore audience (listeners) you have a job as well. Your job is to comment on the presentation, asking questions, sharing your thoughts, your feelings your 'take' or misunderstandings of the presentation/subject/etc. Participation is very important, it will keep you more awake and alert as well as prepare you for the assessment (read: test) on your retention of information from these presentations. So suggestion to audience: take notes, and ask questions. For further incentive, I grade you individually on:
  1. your group's content and if you met the requirements of the assignment (50%)
  2. your contribution to your group's presentation and (25%)
  3. if you comment during at least one other presentation per day. (25%)
Groups should feel free to use whatever visual aides they desire: we will present in the CompLabs on Wed. and on Tues., you can use my computer to present, or access websites if you wish. Send the infor to yourself by email, we will access it in class. You might also consider handouts or posters as well. Anything to help get your information across to your audience.

Additionally, remember if you don't speak in your group's presentation (you miss the presentation, are shy, or have nothing to add, I will require you to write a 2-3 page paper (due Friday 12/09) on your topic in general, and specifically what you found during your research. This is not a simple recital of your groups' presentation but what you personally found. Much easier to participate, I would think.

Friday's Film:
Finally, I want to offer you a choice of films for this Friday, give you a chance to think about, research and hopefully develop an opinion on which we should watch. Here they are, Contact (1997) or The Brother from Another Planet (1984). These two films are very different in style and content. One is a big-budget film with a super-star female lead (Jodi Foster) the other is an Independent Film with less-well known (although he was in Terminator2) black actor (Joe Morton) as the lead character. Both are excellent films, (153 & 108) and either would make for a good final film for the unit. We will make a decision on our next film by Wednesday.

Feel free to post comments, ask questions and generally post information you have found on these films and your recommendation on which to watch (and why) on this blog.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

11/30 Mini-research project

In today's class, you will be working in groups, to do some mini-research projects on our new topic: gender & equality. I am going to throw a lot of information at you, you will get to do some research.
First, you might need to do some brushing up on the terms we will be discussing. I would suggest a trip to "Wikipedia" my favorite online encyclopedia.
A couple of starter pages to look at, to familiarize yourself with.
"Gender Studies" a fairly short and bland read on a very general topic.
One more. In this reading on Feminism, you will be introduced to early feminist theory and the name Mary Wollstonecraft who
"... is one of the few writer[s] before the 19th century that can be called [a] feminist. By modern standards, her metaphor of women as nobility, the elite of society, coddled, fragile and in danger of intellectual and moral sloth, does not sound like a feminist argument. Wollstonecraft believed that both sexes contributed to this situation and took it for granted that women had considerable power over men."
Lots to see, plenty of potential topics of discussion in the above idea alone.
Another interesting section is the "feminism in many forms" and it might be fun to browse the "major sub-types of feminism" as well. Take a look.

Neither of these is the final word on the subject, you can and I suggest that you should do your own further research on either or both of these fields. There are links at the bottom of these pages to help you along.
You will have about 10-15minutes to familiarize yourself with this information. Talk with your classmates, discuss what you read/skimmed and then we will move on. You will probably need to do some further reading on your own.

icon_arrow.gif at the end of the 15minutes, we will briefly discuss as a class.

icon_arrow.gif Second, a general overview of the topic and it's relation to film. The site is called "media matters." This is a non-profit Canadian group that creates a lot of media awareness and educational materials. The information we will look at is fairly basic, but again, it is meant only to give you a general background in the subject, or to remind you of what you already know. The idea is for you to do your own research and learn more on the subject on your own.

"stereotyping in the movies" is actually a site for parents to teach their kids about these issues. I am sure there are similar sites here in Japan and if you know of any, I would love to learn about them. It is basic, but informative, as are the exercises.
"Media Stereotyping" Is a good starting point for researching about specific groups and their portrayal on TV and in film.

You might also look at this: "A panel on strong women characters in SF" which is a transcript of four authors discussing this specific topic in a written, online chat format. It is very conversational and informative and since the panel are writers and scientists, it makes an intersting read. Take a look and feel free to discuss what you are reading with your partner.

icon_arrow.gif You will have about 30minutes to look over these three sites. I don't expect you to get through all of it, but I expect you will have made some significant progress. You will want to finish reading them on your own later. We will again, briefly discuss as a class, (asking questions is good).

icon_arrow.gif Finally before we leave today, I want you to decide which reading your will be working on for next week. post your group and your topic to the this topic along with any questions you have. The readings below will lead to a blogger assignment due by next Wednesday. Here, you will work in groups and focus on one of these read it, and do further reasearch. If your group decides it does not wish to work on the topic chosen in class, present other options and I will be willing to change your group's focus. Below are some possible directions for your assignment. These assignments all require group work and further research.

Your job is to break into 5 groups of 5 and working together, create a forum topic by next week about the information you researched, and the new information you found.
Your goal is to present the information your group has found to the class. you will have time to share information on Monday in class (after we have discussed Friday's film). Presentations will be given on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. The group will create a topic on the forum and each student will need to post some information that helps the rest of the students understand your groups' specific topic. The presenations are short, but I expect everyone to participate. Non-participants, (no speaking, abasent, or little added information) will get to present what they have learned from this assignment in written form. This will entail a 3page writing assignment, or receiving a zero on this (one of two) presentation assignments -- a very very bad thing for your grades.

Below are some possible places to start your group's research, mostly done on your own, outside of class, and discussed on this blog ( details in class). Again, you do not need to focus on these specific topics, but they are a good starting point.

Possible starting points for Gender. You do not need to use any of these, however, they would be good places to begin.
"Feminist Utopia" is a good place to start for a group(s) thinking of doing a detailed report on some of the different forms of Feminism. Notice that there are many forms of Feminism and there is no possible way a group could do justice to this topic in 15minutes. Your group will want to focus on one (or maybe two similar/contrasting) form(s) of feminisim. Your group members will want to research and focus your research....

Some further articles and readings.
"These chicks kick butt" for a short glance at some strong female characters and
"Construction of a female heroine" for a longer, more in-depth look.
"Gender through the eyes of Disney"

"Fluffy Feminism" The new '21st Century' form of feminism is discussed. It will probably sound very appealing to some. Like the text above, this article should be summarized and developed by the group. They will want to learn more about the different types of feminism that are mentioned in the article, and might mention those as well in their research. You might want to look at "theories defined" which will give you some other sub-categories of feminism to compare with. Also the site at Wikipedia also has a bunch of definition links under the "sub-types" heading.

"Space babe Leia flaunts a rare feminist flair" an article about a middle of the road female character, one with some very strong and atypical characteristics for females and some more common traits too. It is a good read. Here is one article on a popular feminist character. Your groups job will be to read this, summarize the points and then find more information to support the topic online. You want to do more than just summarize the text though, if would be nice if you could expand upon it and show us similar or contradictory images and examples to help us better understand this text. I have some thoughts on further research, if you are interested, ask. As for now, you might want to check out these two link as well to learn more about tough leading women characters. Still, some would object that they are still being objectified. Is this an accurate claim?

Starting points for a presentation exploring race & ethnicity.
"Asian Stereotypes" a website devoted to the portrayal of Asians in film and on TV. The Asian-Americans are a large and influential group in America with a voice. They have often protested stereotypes directed at other asians, here is a brief look at the issue. You might do further research later, using some of their keywords in a search engine. You might look for infromation about this group and how they fight against racial stereotypes in the states. you might also wish to browse the Anti Defamation League's website for more information, or maybe even focus your research on women and men stereotypes in Japanese media (you could look at stereotypes about foreigners or, maybe more interestingly, about stereotypes about Japanese men and women and the way their roles are portrayed in the media).

"Race & Ethnicity" is a website from Washington State University with lots of articles and links to other bits of information. This is a large site that contains a lot of information. It will take some research to use effectively, but it is a gold mine (very valuable) to a group focused on this topic.

"Disney's Portrayal of Culture & Race" Builds on the information given on the Media Matters website (from the second section today). Its a bit light, with not a lot of academic weight, but it could be a good article to get a group focused on a more specific direction.

So there you have it; a rather large assignment and an agenda for the class over the week. I realize there is a lot of information here. Please ask questions if you are confused.
Have a good one, folks.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Stepford v. Alien

Okay, which will it be? Your assignment here is to state clearly your preference. You will get credit for this assignment by indicating your choice and your reasoning behind your selection. You can choose either film; The Stepford Wives (1975) or Alien (1979) or choose not to participate in the decision -- any three of these decsions will be fine, as long as you explain why you feel this way. I will count votes before I go to bed Sunday night, around midnight (12:00), so let's make the posting time prior to midnight Sunday.

Good luck!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


First a vote backed up with your reasons why.
Sleeper or 12 Monkeys

Which one do you want to watch on Friday? Why? I will give you about 15minutes to discuss, research, and write up your answer before we move on to our current class assignment. Before you vote, you might want to check the imdb write-up on both, or the script (all linked above) for 12monkeys. Here are some other facts about the films.
Sleeper (1973) Director Woody Allen. Performers Allen, Woody; Keaton, Diane. Length 89minutes.
12 Monkeys (1995) Director Terry Gilliam. Performers Willis, Bruce; Pitt, Brad; Stowe Madeline. Length 129minutes.

Both are good, but for very different reasons. You will notice that 12 Monkeys is considerably longer than our class. If this is the film we choose, I will run it through to the end on Friday (finish around 4:40pm) and would be willing to re-screen it (show it again) on Saturday. I will reserve a room, hopefully our regular classroom to allow us to watch it again. We would need to set a time to do this on Saturday. I am willing to show Sleeper again on Saturday as well. Again, we need to establish 1) if people want to do this and 2) if so, what time.

In class today, we will work on developing our ideas for this next paper (paper 3). Most of you are ready to start developing your ideas about Gattaca if that is the film you want to write about. If it isn't, you are welcome to write about Soylent Green or either off the two films we might watch on Friday. If you choose one of these two films, you will need to be responsible for watching it and developing your thoughts on it. You can bounce them off me, but it will require more work on your part. Easier to continue developing your thougths on Gattaca. If you are going to conitnue with the Gattaca writing, here is the process and the steps for today.
  1. Read my comments on your theme and summary.
  2. Develop your ideas through discussion, research, and outlining your developed idea (you should have time to do some of all three things in class).
If you are planning on writing on one of the other films, you should plan to follow the same process but add the step of talking with me first. Let me know if you aren't planning on discussing Gattaca in your paper. This is fine, but I want to know.

So today is a chance to work on your ideas and doing this means being responsible and focused on task. If your are lost, or if at any time in class, you can ask me for advice, or bouce ideas off of me. You will have to manage your time, discuss your ideas with a friend (or in a small group) is a greatway to clarify your idea and share thoughts. If you feel you work better on your own, you can use the time to research, or if you feel you are ready to start outlining your paper, work on that. I will expect you to have some sort of outline ready for class Monday. And I am planning on working on your drafts in class next Wednesday, so bring what you have written by then to class as a hard copy and on disk too!

Ok I think that is it. Use your time wisely! Ask questions, discuss, think, write, work on this paper!