One of my proudest courses I’ve worked on at Davidson College has been the Anthropology course “Visualizing Anthropology”. This has been a constantly evolving course that runs every other fall semester. I have facilitated it as a co-teacher six times now.
My major contributions have been the photo-essay project with a learning goal of getting the students using the cameras in full manual mode. They begin to think about how to visually tell a story using still imagery which we later apply to video. They master the basics of video editing, importing assets, organizing, adding assets to the timeline, creating in and out points, working with audio voiceover and finally exporting their project. All of these are the key foundations to creating any video project inside of an editing program.
I also added a 48-film project. This came to me after some colleagues had participated in a similar film contest in which they had to create a video inside of a set window of time, each video containing key elements that would count towards the overall score of the video. I incorporated this idea into the class after seeing that students were struggling with time management and fully understanding what goes into a project from start to finish. The 48 hour project gives them a clear idea of how to organize, create and complete a project. This allows for mistakes to be made early, so they can learn before they move on to their final project.
Here is a syllabus of the course that ran in 2015.
Anthropology 372: Visualizing Anthropology
Fall 2015, Monday 1:30 – 4:20, Xxxxxx XXXX
Prof. Eriberto P. Lozada Jr., Robert McSwain Office Hours: M, W, F 9:30– 10:20 am
Office: Xxxxx XXX T, Th 9:00– 10:00 am or by appointment
Telephone: XXX-XXX-XXXX Email: xxxxxxxxxx
This seminar introduces students to the theory and methods necessary for making ethnographic films. Students will conduct fieldwork and make a film on some aspects of the social and cultural behavior under investigation. Emphasis is placed on developing the critical skills needed for resolving some of the ethical, technical and aesthetic problems that may emerge during the documentation of social and cultural behavior.
Because of the amount of time and skill necessary to make ethnographic films, projects will be done within a group. While individuals within a group may specialize in a particular aspect of the project, I will expect everyone to have a strong working knowledge of all the various aspects of research and production. Much of the work for this course will be conducted outside the Connolly Media Lab and not during seminar meetings, especially in the latter half of the semester.
- To understand the impact of consuming and producing ethnographic/documentary media in representing people.
- To analyze the rhetoric and perspectives of documentary and ethnographic filmmakers through viewing of their films.
- To use photographic, video, and audio equipment to document social groups, cultural practices, or other anthropological issues for a wide audience.
- To become familiar with different technologies that are used in creating and distributing digital media.
Lancaster, Kurt 2012. Video Journalism for the Web: A Practical Introduction to Documentary Storytelling. New York: Routledge. ISBN: 978-0415892667 (available as eBook from the library)
Additional articles will be available on Moodle.
The most important work in this course is to be prepared for each seminar meeting; this means having thoroughly read the material and being prepared to discuss particular points from the reading. Because this is a laboratory class, being prepared also means having mastered the
software or technical skills expected for the meeting. Readings are due on the day listed in the class schedule. Your engagement with the material and mastery of the software and equipment is vital for the success of this learning experience.
Laboratory Fee: While there is no additional fee to use the media lab, students will be required to purchase their own portable hard drive for use in this class. The drive will cost less than typical textbooks (< $70.00). We will talk about this purchase at our first meeting.
Seminar Participation: (10%) Students are expected to attend all classes, do the readings and computer exercises prior to class, and discuss the implications of the issues in the classroom. Part of this grade will be determined from a self-examination conducted by the group.
Discussion Board: (10%) Each week, students will write a brief reaction towards a film that was reviewed, a reading, or a reflection of an incident from the filmmaking process. You should feel free to write whatever you feel is relevant. They are due prior to the start of each seminar meeting. I expect you to have also reviewed you’re your peers have written – you may respond to what they have written, but I expect all exchanges to be as civil as if they were said in person during the seminar meeting. LATE SUBMISSIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.
Photo Documentary (10%): (due 7 September) This is your opportunity to begin using images to tell a story. Using no more than twenty pictures (pecha kucha format), create a narrative about a particular place, event, or person. Limit the amount of staging and interference in the actual occurrence. You may not use text or audio to explain the scene – as much as possible, let your images (and your sequencing) tell the story.
Film Proposal (10%): (due 14 September) This assignment is based on preliminary fieldwork observations and library research. The writing of this proposal will indicate to the instructors that you have obtained permission from the participants as well as submitted the IRB application. In order to write this proposal the research team must have observed the site on at least two different occasions. Below are the requirements for this exercise:
- A concise statement of the research project and a justification for this research project.
- Describe the research site.
- List the dates the site was visited and the length of each observation period.
- Provide a demographic profile of the participants you observed.
- Describe the types of activities the group plans to videotape.
- Indicate two cultural beliefs underlying the social behavior to be videotaped.
- Indicate two major challenges or obstacles this project will present and suggest measures to counteract them.
- Critic two videos that deal with similar or related topic and indicate how your study differs.
- Briefly summarize four scholarly articles that deal with the same or a related topic and indicate how this literature influences your ideas.
IRB Protocol: (due 14 September) This is part of the film proposal. Prior to conducting each film project student must obtain the approval of the Davidson College Institutional Research Board. The protocol form is listed on the website of the Office of Contracts and Grants. The protocol must be approved by course instructors prior to submission to the IRB.
Short Video: Filming and Editing Exercise (10%): (due 5 October). More on this project will be made available later during the seminar.
Ethnographic Film Project: (45%) This is the group ethnographic short film series (3 films, each no more than ten minutes). The films will be evaluated in terms of how successful it is in: portraying the ethnographic subject; the effectiveness of the narrative in exploring the social or cultural issue; the aesthetics of the filming and editing. The first short will be due on 26 October, the second 16 November, and the third due 30 November. The films will be submitted as a DVD, and will be accompanied by a brief film narrative.
While we will work together on various issues and projects, your papers are your own individual work. All work is subject to the Davidson College Honor Code as stated in the student handbook. If there are individual accommodations for special needs, please let me know and authorize the Dean of Students to contact me so that we can work something out.