AAAS 7: Women, Gender and Sexuality in the Caribbean

WGST: Women in the CaribbeanCourse: AAAS 7: Women, Gender and Sexuality in the Caribbean
Instructor: Reena Goldthree

For this project, you will work in small groups of three to create a short documentary film. You and your group members will select the specific topic of the documentary; however, your film must critically examine some aspect of women’s lives in the Caribbean before 1960. For your film, you can choose to analyze the life of a specific Caribbean woman, investigate a social movement led by women (i.e., the campaign for women’s suffrage), or examine major topics such as slavery and indentureship with a focus on women’s lived experiences.

By creating an original documentary, you will have the opportunity to explore the issues that we have discussed in class through the visual medium of film. You will also be able to research a topic that interests you and communicate your findings to your peers and the broader public. Rather than simply telling a story about the past, your documentary should make a compelling argument—using voice-over narration, audio, and relevant historical images and film—about the topic you choose to explore. Your argument should be informed by relevant primary and secondary sources beyond the assigned course readings. Each documentary should be 5-6 minutes and must include a bibliography. The final cut of your documentary will be due on March 1, 2011. We will screen and discuss the documentaries in class on March 2, 2011.
To help you create your documentary, you will attend two special workshops. The first workshop, led by librarian Amy Witzel, will explore how to find relevant primary and secondary sources for your film. The second workshop, led by Susan Simon at Jones Media Center, will review multimedia composition techniques and provide basic training in iMovie and Photoshop. In addition, you will complete several mini-assignments in the process of creating the documentary, including an oral “pitch” of your topic, a written film treatment, and a draft script and storyboard.

Learning Outcomes
After completing this project, students will be able to:

    1. Discuss how race, class, sexuality, and nationality have shaped the opportunities available for various groups of Caribbean women


    1. Identify some of the major social, political, and cultural institutions that have sought to define women’s roles in Caribbean society


    Produce polished multimedia compositions that have an original perspective, clear argument, supporting evidence, and proper citations

Since this is a collaborative project, your group will receive a grade for the written treatment, storyboard, script, and bibliography. Your group will also receive a grade for the final documentary film. As a class, we will work together to develop a rubric to assess the documentaries.
You will receive an individual grade for your written reflection on the filmmaking process.
Reena Goldthree, Instructor for AAAS 7

Susan Simon, Media Learning Technologist, Jones Media Center

Amy Witzel, Reference Librarian for African and African American Studies (AAAS) & Women and Gender Studies

Kay Yi, Writing Assistant for AAAS 7
AAAS 7 Library Resources Guide (prepared by Amy Witzel)

AAAS 7 Blackboard Page (see “Video Project Resources” link)
Student Center for Researching, Writing, and Information Technology (RWIT)

THEA 10.2/WGST 59.03/AMES 25: Unveiling the Harem Dancer

Course: THEA 10.2/WGST 59.03/AMES 25: Unveiling the Harem Dancer
Instructor: Maral Yessayan

As part of the course Unveiling the Harem Dancer, the students were divided into working groups and asked to produce a video (2-5 minutes long) that creatively challenges stereotypes commonly associated with Arabs and Muslims. The course material for “Unveiling the Harem Dancer” focused on the role that visual media has historically played in creating a repertoire of images that sustain stereotypical descriptions of Arabs and Muslims. In response, I encouraged the students to use the same tool, i.e. the visual text, and capitalize on its ability to unsettle some of the stereotypes associated with Arabs and Muslims today. In my opinion, the projects were a great success. A focus on the visual medium seems to have enhanced the students’ understanding of the extent to which societies rely on visual difference to perpetuate ethnic, religious, and cultural stereotypes. The videos allowed students to actively engage in a dialogue with the prevailing discourse about Arabs and Muslims, which in turn enabled them to participate in a cross-cultural dialogue promoting values of tolerance and coexistence.

This video assignment also required each group to maintain a “Group Diary Blog,” which were made available to students on Blackboard. The purpose of the “Group Diary Blog” was to create a space for the students to flesh out their ideas, identify their research question, and define the vision of their video project in writing. It served as a productive forum for the students to brainstorm ideas, respond to one another, manage group meeting times, share information/graphics/links, organize and cite research material, and discuss the progress of their video project. It also provided me insight into the nature, process, and development of each of the groups’ video project, and allowed me to be more effective in directing and guiding the students whenever they had questions or faced challenges. Each group followed the “Video Project Proposal – The Pitch” and “Treatment Plan for Student Video Projects” guidelines provided by the JMC for their midterm. As part of their pitching presentation, however, I also encouraged them to create a preview video to practice using imovie software and to have a better feel on how to divide production tasks among group members for the video project. The groups screened their final videos at the end of week nine as part of an open public event that was followed by Q&A. The grading criteria for the final video project included three components:
Video Quality Production (from Concept to Creation) – 80 points
Video Supporting Group Paper – 10 points
‘Behind the Scenes’ Group Presentation – 10 points

Example of Final Video Project

[youtube 2gn9pNKcPyA]

WGST 51 / COLT 39: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Course: WGST 51/COLT 39 – Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Instructor: Nancy Canepa

The Basics.
For your major project in this course you will be making a video together with 2 other students (i.e., groups of 3). Group selection is up to you; given the nature of the project, choose people whom you not only get along with, but who share your ideas on interesting directions in which to expand your experiences with fairy tales. You’ll make your videos using iMovie, and with the extensive help of the Jones Media Center (see syllabus for various instructional and tutorial sessions). Each video should be 5-7 minutes (please: no LONGER than 7 minutes!).

How to start thinking about it.
In your video you’ll be adapting or relating a fairy-tale type, paradigm, or set of motifs that you have encountered in the course to your own personal experience or to some aspect of modern life. The video may take a number of forms: theatrical/ cinematographic dramatization of a fairy tale (in whatever temporal and spatial dimension you like); a dramatized telling (incorporating visual material); a musical rendition (e.g., MTV-type video); a dramatized interview with one or more characters from a tale; a narration in images, etc. etc.! I’m open to and interested in other ideas, of course, but make sure to share them with me before you embark on the project.

How to frame your fairytale.
Approaches to “retelling” the tale or reconfiguring the motifs you choose may involve reversals of fairy-tale patterns or character types we have seen; sequels or prequels to familiar tale types; shifts in narration (e.g., from an objective 3rd-person narrator to a 1st-person narrator [one of the characters of the tale], or to an unreliable 3rd-person narrator); reframing the tale (e.g., changing its temporal and/or spatial coordinates); reinterpreting or zooming in on single episodes, elements, or characters of a tale.

The nitty gritty.
Throughout the process I will be distributing handouts to help you with the various phases of the project. To give you an idea of this process, these are the main steps:

  1. Choose your group, and brainstorm about possible ideas for your video.
  2. Create a proposal, and complete the treatment plan. (I’ll give you a form to help you.) Hand in a narrative summary of proposal/treatment (500 words).
  3. Showcase your ideas in a “pitch session” in which each group will have 5 minutes to present their proposal and then receive feedback from the rest of the class.
  4. Participate in 2 Imovie tutorials at Jones Media Center (during class hours), in which you’ll learn video-making techniques.
  5. Participate in 1 30-minute session in JMC before your group checks out a video camera.
  6. Put together a shot list (storyboard). This is optional. (Template provided.)
  7. Once footage is shot, participate in 1 or 2 editing sessions (depending on need) at JMC, with RWIT tutor.
  8. Complete video!
  9. Put together, as a class, pertinent criteria for evaluating the videos.
  10. Participate in a special showing of your videos.
  11. Write and hand in evaluations (both formal, based on class criteria, and less formal) (500 words).

Example of a Final Project

[youtube zek0yaetAUI]