“Documentaries are part of the media that help us understand no only our world, but our role in it, that shape us as public actors” (Aufderheide, “Documentary Film,” p 4)
This fall I will be a Teaching Assistant for AMST 205-01, American Civilization III: Documentary. The course is cross listed for both American Studies and Film and Media studies undergraduate students at Georgetown University. I’ll be working with Professor Bernie Cook, associate dean of Georgetown College and head of Film and Media Studies department.Bernie described the course: “The course is organized around documentary as a mode of engaging the cultural history of the first half of the 20th Century. Since the period under consideration, 1890 -1945, was marked by the explosive development of audio-visual media, especially film, the course asks students to view and analyze both period and contemporary films as visual and aural evidence of the social, political and cultural history of America. Students read documentary theory, film theory, histories, and primary accounts from the period.”
The course’s main assignment is to shoot, edit, and produce their own documentaries in group. I will not only be helping students understand how people create documentaries based on their previous conceptions of what makes a ‘documentary’ a ‘documentary’ (e.g. interviews and notions of objectivity), but to teach students how the documentary genre is always in flux and in tension between representation and reality. I will also be responsible for assisting the students with technicalities, such as basic editing techniques with Final Cut.
The first class meets Thurs, August 30th. The students will watch “Out of Sight, Out of Mind,” a short documentary produced in last year’s course in Fall 2011. “Through an examination of St. Elizabeth’s Mental Hospital over the past half-century, this film explores the role of instituions with regards to mental health. Using interviews and archival photographs, the film traces developments in the treatment of the mentally ill, while questioning the true impact those changes have had on the hospital and it’s patients” (Film and Media Studies, 2011). This film will give the students an idea of what they will be able to produce at the end of the semester.
I am truly excited to embark on this journey!
Fall 2012 Syllabus: AMST 205syllabusFall12(1)