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I too impress on my students that in-class films are as much "texts" as
the assigned textbook, and also that the big-screen experience is
uniquely valuable, but the most successful strategy for me has been to
hinge written assignments to the films viewed. Typically, students watch
a film on their own, chosen from a list of five or six related films
that are relatively easily available, and then must compare that film's
relevant historical or analytical issues with the in-class film. These
are typically not ambitious assignments (although students can recycle
some of the material into their final papers). In practice, they
function somewhat like journals, keeping the students focused on
thinking about what they are seeing rather than just passively absorbing
it. 

(Our film courses are scheduled in four-hour blocks of classtime, which
leaves plenty of room for lecture, viewing of film clips, discussion and
even a break, leading up to the showing of a complete film). 

Robert Keser
Fine Arts: Film
National-Louis University
122 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60603
1-312-261-3086

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