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Undergraduate Bulletin 2009-2010

Courses in Documentary Studies

A DOC 251/251Z  (= A HIS 251/251Z) Introduction to Documentary Studies (3)
The course will be offered every fall and by rotating faculty from Journalism, History, and Communication. A single faculty member will coordinate the course, but College of Arts and Sciences faculty from the five documentary areas will be invited in as guest lecturers to introduce students to the five major documentary forms: nonfiction and long-form journalistic writing, photography, film and video, radio/audio, and multimedia/hypermedia. All students majoring in documentary studies must take this “gateway” introduction to the theory and history of documentary production. Only one version of A HIS 251 may be taken for credit.

T HIS 251Z Introduction to Documentary Studies (3)
T HIS 251Z is the Honors College version of A HIS 251Z; only one version may be taken for credit.

A DOC 294Y (= A HIS 294Y) Field Research in Oral and Visual History: The Hudson River Region (3)
Utilizing the Hudson River region as our laboratory, from the river's source in the Adirondacks to Manhattan Island in the south, this course is intended to be both a theoretical and practical introduction to the use of oral and video history in documentary and historical field research. As a course, it covers a wide territory -- from the gathering of oral/video interviews to explorations of how to utilize them in theatrical plays, radio programs, films, and television documentaries. From in-class discussions of memory, historical distortion, and interview theory, to technical instruction on the use of audio, video, and transcribing equipment, the course is designed to teach students critical and practical skills and to demonstrate the potential of this important research and presentation methodology - and to do it utilizing the communities and vast resources of the Hudson River corridor. A major component of the course will be student-initiated and led interviews with individuals from a variety of walks of life who live along the shores, or work on, the Hudson River. [Please note that in future years, the "Field Research in Oral and Visual History" course will vary in its regional focus].

T DOC 294Y (= T HIS 294Y) Field Research in Oral and Visual History: The Hudson River Region (3)
T DOC 294Y is the Honors College version of A DOC 294Y; only one version may be taken for credit.

A DOC 376/376Z (= A HIS 376/376Z) A Cultural History of American Photography (3)
This course is a survey of the history of photography from 1839 until the present, presenting photographs as representative intellectual statements defining and illustrating major movements in American thought and culture. By looking at photographs, reading photographic and aesthetic theory, and drawing parallels from American painting, literature, architecture, and other informational and expressive media, the class will demonstrate the ideas and issues underlying American Romanticism, Realism, Modernism, and Post-Modernism. Because photographs are tangible, accessible, and have been upheld as an archetypal medium by each of these intellectual movements, the history of photography offers an ideal introduction to abstract ideas and broad intellectual themes. The course will provide students with extensive experience analyzing cultural documents and help them begin to explore underlying theoretical issues in photography. Only one version of A DOC 376 may be taken for credit.

A DOC 400 Honors Tutorial in Documentary Studies (1)
Documentary Studies Honors students enrolled in 300 level courses or above in their concentrations may enroll in A DOC 400 for additional credit of honors work. The Honors Tutorial affords students an opportunity to work one-on-one with their instructors and will include extra reading, writing, and project assignments. May be repeated for credit.

A DOC 404 (= A HIS 404) Readings and Practicum in Aural History and Audio Documentary Production (4)
This course introduces students to (1) the historical study of sound, soundscapes, and sound recordings, (2) aural history composition techniques (especially radio documentaries and features, but also aural essays and museum audio installations), and (3) audio delivery technologies to communicate historical ideas to broad audiences. It includes coverage of textual and archival audio source research, 20th and 21st century historical radio documentary work, analysis of audio documentary forms and nonfiction storytelling techniques, scriptwriting, technical instruction in the art of audio recording and post-production editing and mixing, discussion of audio preservation and restoration techniques, and an introduction to traditional and modern technologies for the transmission and dissemination of documentary and related audio work. Prerequisite(s): permission of instructor.

A DOC 405 (= A HIS 405) Historical Documentary Filmmaking: Theory and History (3-4)
This course will introduce students to the history, theory, and aesthetics of historical documentary filmmaking. Beginning with a review and analysis of the general history of the documentary film genre and the varieties of approaches adopted by nonfiction filmmakers, we will begin to systematically unravel the various elements that contribute to the creation of informative, moving, and powerful historically-focused documentary films. We’ll look at the various modes or styles that have evolved in the course of the genre’s development and the various techniques documentarians have utilized to effectively communicate historical ideas in cinematic form. Prerequisite(s): permission of instructor.

A DOC 406 (= A HIS 406) Practicum in Historical Documentary Filmmaking (4)
This course is a hands-on workshop in historical documentary filmmaking. It will introduce students to the all aspects of historical documentary production—from pre-production planning, research, and writing, to production (filming/videotaping interviews, recording voiceover narration, lighting, filming reenactments), and finally, post-production (editing and mixing actualities, music, narration, interviews, still photographs). The course, in short, is designed to teach students practical, technical skills and is a perfect follow-up to A DOC 405, which examines the history and theory of documentary filmmaking. Prerequisite(s): permission of instructor.

A DOC 407 (= A HIS 407) Readings and Practicum in Digital History and Hypermedia (4)
This course introduces students to the practice of history in the digital age. The emergence of the World Wide Web has opened up new avenues for researching, analyzing, and presenting the past—but has also raised new questions about producing quality historical scholarship in this open environment. This course will work on two fronts, looking first at the current state of the field of “digital history,” from issues of narrative and hypertext theory to some of the best (and worst) practices of current historical websites. At the same time, as a central component of the course, students will work in collaboration to build their own well-researched and historically sound web projects. Previous experience with building websites is welcomed but not required. Prerequisite(s): permission of instructor.

A DOC 442 (= A WSS 442) Transmedia Storytelling (3)
Students in this workshop learn how to use a variety of new media tools, including--but not restricted to--digital videos, interactive web pages, and animation software, to create a set of linked stories about a singular historical or newsworthy event. Additionally, students learn to search for, collect, and analyze primary sources--e.g. news stories, first-person accounts, government records, cultural artifacts, ephemera, found footage, etc.--stored in archives, libraries, museums, and online databases. Through the processes of research and reflection, students learn to understand the intersections and consequences of class, gender, race, and nationality. The workshop format enables students to participate fully as active learners and peer teachers. Only one version of A DOC 442 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): permission of instructor.

A DOC 450 (= A HIS 492) Undergraduate Fieldwork and Research Seminar (4)
This course is for both History and Documentary Studies majors and minors interested in pursuing a fieldwork/archival research project culminating in 1) a media documentary on a topic that interests them or 2) a research paper based on extensive and intensive primary source research. History students taking the course must select historical projects; Documentary Studies students, for whom this course is a required core course, may select either historical or contemporary topics. Students are expected to complete a substantial research-based documentary project in any one of the following forms: audio, video, hypermedia, still photography (with an "exhibit catalog"), or text. Students will work with the course instructor as well as appropriate on-campus experts; they will receive feedback, as well, from fellow students enrolled in the course. Team projects may also be undertaken, so long as individual responsibilities of participating students are clearly identified. Discussions of selected readings in history and media, media ethics, documentary and contemporary issues, and production techniques will complement the discussions of individual projects. Prerequisite(s): permission of instructor.

A DOC 451 Honors Seminar and Practicum in Documentary Studies (1)
The course, for Honors students taking A DOC 450, offers students an opportunity to complete a major project in their area of documentary concentration: radio/audio, video/film, hypermedia/multimedia, photography, and print journalism. This 1 credit Honors course allows Honors students to take on a more ambitious project than normally expected of majors. It culminates in a public presentation of their projects.

A DOC 499 Special Projects and Internships in Documentary Studies (1-4)
This is a course designed for students interested in engaging in documentary fieldwork and production projects through internships with on-campus and off-campus organizations, or on their own with close faculty supervision. Students should already have the specific production skills (e.g. filmmaking, photography, audio recording/editing, hypermedia authoring) necessary for the project or internship they wish to undertake. Typical projects or internships might involve mounting documentary photography exhibits, participating in documentary editing projects (including on-line, nonfiction journals), designing virtual museums and pod-casting/video-casting web sites, or working as production members on film/video or radio projects. Credit load will depend on the level of engagement and time obligations associated with the specific project undertaken by the student. May be repeated for a total of 6 credits. Prerequisite(s): junior or senior standing, a minimum GPA of 2.50, and permission of the instructor. S/U graded.