About the (Dis)Course page

This category (page) is the “obligatory” space; the one where students will be expected to create/moderate/contribute to reading and lecture-related discourse each week.

Note that there are a few roles specified: blog creator/moderator and blog contributor. These roles differ, but one is no less important than the other.

“Blog creator/moderator” are those students (for the moment, given the current class size, usually two per week) who initiate a thread on a topic associated (primarily, in the first instance) with the readings. Past lecture material and/or previous readings may be broached, but the primary intent is to get us all thinking about the current readings. Discussion about lecture material or previous readings may best be diverted to/found in the “Post-Hoc” page.

In order to stay abreast of who is responsible for thread creation each week, students should refer to the “blog leader/creator thread rotation” posted in the “Resources: Course Administration” section of the course website. As intimated above, the rotation may have to be revised during the course of the semester, depending on adds/drops, so consult with the rotation schedule periodically, so as not to be caught off guard.

At a minimum, then, it is anticipated that there will be 2 unique threads per week (although moderators) may choose to create more. ALL students are expected to respond (by writing a reply) to at least one thread per week. Thus, students can anticipate penning between 13 and 26 blog entries during the semester. Obviously, the more threads one contributes to, the more (potential) impact on one’s participation evaluation (although, please note that quality trumps quantity). Students will be asked to keep a record of their posts and replies in one file inside their Dropbox folder on Trunk, in order to facilitate evaluation of their effort at term’s end.

Designated thread leaders are also asked to moderate discussion—which may mean asking for clarification of writers, or seeking to stimulate lagging discussion, or redirecting wayward discourse. How well a week’s conversation transpires is factored into the moderator’s evaluation.

What sort of content is being sought? What topic a moderator selects choose is up to her/him, but it ought to:

  • be reading-centered;
  • make a connection to prior readings and/or class lecture/discussion;
  • incorporate/reference phenomena from the social world (a media production, event, utterance, etc.)

Again, once a post is made, all students are expected to log a response, and the complete thread will likely be touched upon in class, so students should be ready to explain and defend what they have written.

Any questions? Use the comments section (below).

7 thoughts on “About the (Dis)Course page

  1. “The Image World” – Susan Sontag, On Photography

    This reading from Susan Sontag was really interesting because it focused on the relationship that we as humans have with images (photograph and video) and how we have used these media platforms to create “reality”. It talks about this reality as substituting first hand experience and true private happiness. Similarly, we went into discussion in class last week when we talked about the ways in which signs and our interpretations of them have an influence on the “truths” that we receive from the media we consume. I remember making a comment last week saying, “Ultimately, we create our own truth” (It got an interesting response from Professor Holden as he compared this to Trump like ideologies).

    SO… What do you all think about photography and video and its role in determining what is real? As well, can you think of any examples?

    To be completely honest, I don’t have a solidified answer. What really clicked in my head was when Sontag talked about photography being acquisition in several forms. It’s interesting how we can look at a photograph and decipher the information we are seeing to create a reality. At the same time, we can create emotional associations with images because they act as formal portrayals of our life experiences. Those feelings that a photograph or video can bring are definitely real.

    However, I didn’t agree with one point Sontag made. She said that “Photography has powers that no other image-system has ever enjoyed because, unlike the earlier ones, it is not dependent on an image maker”. She says that the extent of influence that the photographer (or videographer) has on setting up and guiding the image-making process doesn’t really matter because they are still capturing detailed “maps of the real”

    First, a map of the real isn’t actually the reality that it portrays. It’s ultimately just a photograph. I think we agreed in class last week that photographs and videos that are created are usually subjective in some form or another. They become less of observations and more of recreations.

    If you guys have any thoughts on my comments, I’m very curious to read what you think. If you interpreted the reading in a different way, I’d be interested to read that too!

    • I also disagree with Sontag because I feel that whoever holds the camera has some sort of creative power that is different from another person. Even if a tri-pod is used. Someone has to decide where to place the tri-pod and the timing of the shutter. Photography and Film, like every other form of art, have people that are responsible for creating the content.

      On the other hand, I do believe that they can be more realistic than other forms because they do depict an extension of the original subject. For example, a film can captivate much more than just how a person looks. For some reason, I think of Full House and when the girls watched videos of their deceased mother. They heard her voice, they saw her interact with themselves as babies, and they realized other traits that they wouldn’t have in just a photograph. My paternal grandfather passed away when my dad was one, and I still have many questions about him and what he was like because all I have ever seen are black and white photographs.

  2. I think video and photography create an altered sense of reality just because things can be manipulated and even if it isn’t altered it is still just a copy of something that actually exist. This thought is somewhat upsetting to me though because is anything that we perceive outside of what we see and can touch real or is everything we use through media and technology an alternate reality?

    I feel as though, with this idea of images presented in the reading, it leaves so many things as not real and kinda made me feel like I’m kind of living in the Matrix. I don’t know if anyone else had a similar feeling.

  3. I thought that the connection that Sontag made between photographic portraits and painted ones was really interesting. It’s true that despite how subjective photography actually is we all have a tendency to trust or believe in it. While a photo can easily be just as manipulated (especially with photoshop), because it for the most part captures a still of what is “real” it becomes more believable.

    But with regards to reality it’s pretty clear that photos and videos can’t capture reality. While it can come close, the fact that a person is operating the camera behind it always creates a bias. However like some of my peers mentioned some forms of media are much closer to reality than others. A video is more realistic than a photo because it captures a moment with sound as a opposed to just a still. But even then a video can’t capture the entirety of reality. One could argue that it’s impossible for media to actually capture reality because everything we perceive goes through inherit biases. For example, if I see myself show up late to class I just think to myself, “well I’m really busy right now it’s an honest mistake.” But as soon as I see someone else walk in late I can’t help but think about how lazy they must be.

  4. As well, it’s interesting to understand how one can classify “reality” because there doesn’t seem to be a way to actually define the term. Everyone sees the world through their own lens ( it’s interesting how our senses act as mediums to understand our reality). Even with watching a film or video, our understanding of the content we see may be similar to that of others who watch, but can’t be replicated because peoples’ individual experiences determine their interpretations. However, there are ways in which the media we consume really feels “real. What comes to mind is Point of View (POV) shots) in film and television.

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