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August 2005, Week 4


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Jason Grant McKahan <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 22 Aug 2005 14:04:37 -0400
text/plain (117 lines)
Dear Aaron,

Great topic! I have been teaching an intro to film classes at Florida State 
University since 1998 and a frequent question from students on the first 
class meeting has been whether or not evening screenings are mandatory.

Given that University Scheduling has always indicated required screenings 
as an course obligation to be fulfilled by students, I have always stressed 
it is part of the class requirement. I check roll and hold students 
responsible for attending screenings.  Of course, I have added other 
reasons, some of which have already been addressed by other responses on 
this list:

1) Ecological validity: The screening experience of a theatre most 
approximates the manner in which motion pictures are consumed. However, 
changes in the film industry with the increase in windows (pay-per, home 
video, etc) and the accompanying changes in production methods (e.g. 
televisionization of film) have brought the ecological validity argument 
into question...

2) "Testable" Lectures: I introduce screenings with historical, cultural, 
aesthetic, technological and economic aspects of the film to be screened 
and always include test questions based on these introductions.

3) Print Quality: Given the traditional predominance of pan and scan or 
cropped, or otherwise, just bad prints of films at video rental stores, I 
have stressed that evening screenings provide the best prints available of 
the films for serious study. Perhaps some students can get pristine, 
letter-boxed DVD's, but some titles are more difficult to acquire.

4) Rentals: In addition to the last point, local video stores usually do 
not have the volume to accommodate every student wanting to rent titles. I 
always encourage students to avoid being put in the situation where they 
need to view a film, but all copies are checked-out: just come to the 

While I count screening attendance as 10% of the class grade, I do allow 
students who miss a screening to write a two-page essay on the film as a 
make-up. However, I only allow the make-up three times out of the 12-13 


Jason Grant McKahan
Instructor, Communications
Florida State University
Tallahassee, Fl 32306-1531
[log in to unmask]

At 07:06 PM 8/21/2005, you wrote:
>I'm putting the finishing touches on a syllabus for an introductory film 
>studies course. According to the university course bulletin, students are 
>expected to attend weekly film viewing sessions on Tuesday evenings.
>What policies have other instructors adopted with respect to mandatory 
>film viewings? Do you take roll during viewing sessions? Do you force 
>students to attend the viewing sessions, or are they allowed to watch the 
>films at their own leisure? Do you require students to attend a certain 
>percentage of evening sessions?
>I would be grateful for any thoughts from other instructors who teach 
>courses with a film component. What approaches have you found to be 
>successful? What approaches have not worked?
>From: Film and TV Studies Discussion List on behalf of Ying Zhu
>Sent: Sun 8/21/2005 12:23 PM
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: [SCREEN-L] new book on Chinese Television Drama
>Qu Chunjin & Ying Zhu (eds), "Television Drama:
>Chinese and US Perspectives" (Shanghai: Shanlian
>Press, 2005)
>For those of you who are interested in research on
>Chinese teleivison drama and can access books written
>in Chinese, the first academic book on Chinese TV
>drama came out in China early this summer. The volume
>"Television Drama: Chinese and US Perspectives" was
>co-edited by Chunjin Qu (China) and Ying Zhu (US).
>With a foreword from Robert Allen and contributions
>from leading television scholars in China, the US, and
>Asustralia, this landmark volume witnesses a serious
>attempt to spotlight the significance of television
>drama as a narrative form, social discourse and
>commerce in China within a framework of comparative
>study that foregrounds the similarities and
>differences between TV drama and the study of TV drama
>in the PRC and the US.
>Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite
>Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite

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