FILM 2001 - Persuasion and Propaganda: Documentary Cinema

North Terrace Campus - Winter - 2021

What different types of documentary are there? What are the differences between persuasion and propaganda? How does the form of non-fiction film affect the way viewers access reality? What ethical problems does the representation of real events trigger? What are the boundaries between fact and fiction? Is film advertising a form of persuasion or propaganda? These, and many more, are the questions that this course will explore through a combination of lectures, screenings, interactive seminars and readings. In the first half of the course we will examine five types of documentary as defined by Bill Nichols: expository, observational, participatory, reflexive and performative. Analysis of different types of documentary film will show how the seemingly distinct qualities of persuasion and propaganda are often significantly blurred. In the second half of the course we will focus on more specific documentary genres. Firstly, we will address questions raised by the cinematic representation of historical events, especially events that are considered 'unrepresentable' . Using the Holocaust as a case study, we will consider different effects use to inform and shock audiences . Secondly , we will examine the wildlife film, and consider the techniques that it uses in order to render its subject matter interesting and pleasurable for audiences. Thirdly, we will focus on the work of Werner Herzog, who has made a series of documentaries that deal with subjects that might be thought impossible to represent, such as the joy of a ski-jumper, the experience of religious ecstasy, and the inner lives of those who are born deaf and blind. Finally, we turn our attention to advertising in cinema, and in particular the role of the film trailer in 'persuading' audiences.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code FILM 2001
    Course Persuasion and Propaganda: Documentary Cinema
    Coordinating Unit School of Humanities
    Term Winter
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 4 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Prerequisites At least 12 units of Level I undergraduate study
    Restrictions Students must be 18 years of age at the commencement of course due to the discussion of R-rated themes and materials.
    Course Description What different types of documentary are there? What are the differences between persuasion and propaganda? How does the form of non-fiction film affect the way viewers access reality? What ethical problems does the representation of real events trigger? What are the boundaries between fact and fiction? Is film advertising a form of persuasion or propaganda? These, and many more, are the questions that this course will explore through a combination of lectures, screenings, interactive seminars and readings. In the first half of the course we will examine five types of documentary as defined by Bill Nichols: expository, observational, participatory, reflexive and performative. Analysis of different types of documentary film will show how the seemingly distinct qualities of persuasion and propaganda are often significantly blurred. In the second half of the course we will focus on more specific documentary genres. Firstly, we will address questions raised by the cinematic representation of historical events, especially events that are considered 'unrepresentable' . Using the Holocaust as a case study, we will consider different effects use to inform and shock audiences . Secondly , we will examine the wildlife film, and consider the techniques that it uses in order to render its subject matter interesting and pleasurable for audiences. Thirdly, we will focus on the work of Werner Herzog, who has made a series of documentaries that deal with subjects that might be thought impossible to represent, such as the joy of a ski-jumper, the experience of religious ecstasy, and the inner lives of those who are born deaf and blind. Finally, we turn our attention to advertising in cinema, and in particular the role of the film trailer in 'persuading' audiences.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Ben McCann

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    This course is offered intensively over a 4 week period during Winter School (late June/July 2021).
    Students engage with pre-recorded lecture materials, watch films, and participate in the equivalent of 3 hours per week of
    structured discussion.

    The University regards a 4-week Winter School course as intensive, which means you are expected to do work related to the content every weekday.

    The activities are partly driven by the assignments, readings and quizzes set on Canvas.
    A summary of tasks will be posted on Canvas shortly before the start of the course.Y
    You will do self-directed work in preparing for the assignments by doing readings, undertaking research and writing notes, summaries etc.
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

    1.    identify different forms of documentary and non-fiction film and their role as instruments of conveying persuasion and propaganda

    2.    understand the theoretical debates and issues involved in the representation of historical events on screen

    3.    evaluate the ethical and persuasive implications of films that refer to the real world

    4.    demonstrate an appreciation of the rhetorical strategies used in documentary and non-fiction films
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    1, 2
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    1, 2, 3, 4
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    2, 3, 4
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    3, 4
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    1, 2, 3, 4
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    1, 2, 3, 4
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    FILMS TO BE STUDIED: to be confirmed in June 2021

    You will watch 12 films in 4 weeks (i.e. 3 films per week). Most films will be available for home viewing through Kanopy, a free
    streaming service hosted by the University  Further details how which films you will be required to watch, and how to watch them, will be
    posted up on Canvas before the start of the course.

    Some films will be screened in class and periodically 'paused' to assist student discussion and feedback.

    There is no textbook required for this course: all required and optional course readings will be made available through Canvas before the start of the course.
    Recommended Resources
    Aitken, Ian (ed.) (2005), Encyclopedia of the Documentary Film. New York: Routledge

    Nichols, Bill (2017), Introduction to Documentary, 3rd edition. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press
    Online Learning
    This course will use MyUni, Echo360 and other resources to be announced.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The equivalent of 156 hours (i.e. a semester load in 4 weeks)

    3 x 1 hour lecture per week
    3 x 2 hour seminar per week
    3 film viewings per week
    Independent viewing and research
    Assessments
    Workload

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    156 hours over 4 weeks.
    Learning Activities Summary
    More detailed information about the learning activities will be posted onto Canvas shortly before the start of the Winter School.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Details to be provided closer to the start of the Winter School.
    Assessment Detail

    No information currently available.

    Submission

    No information currently available.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

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