First day–Humanities

Ok, let’s get started fast. Here is a famous claim about Humanity.

The unexamined life is not worth living. — Socrates (Apology, 399 BC)

OK, three questions/requests:

  1. What do you think “the unexamined life” means? Who would qualify for having an unexamined life? Who would not?
  2. What does it mean if a life is “not worth living?”
  3. Finally, instead of deciding whether or not Socrates is right. I’ll ask you to give me a good reason why Socrates is right and give me a specific example from your life or history or culture or even literature to explain why he’s right. Then, give me a good reason and a specific example for why he’s wrong. For example, you might say look at Kim Kardashian…


First, you write. Then, we talk. I’ll say a bit about the context of the statement and then I’ll introduce you to the class. If we have time, I’ll start by giving you an introduction to Plato that I took from here.

Friday, June 6th–Everyone

Creative Writing–Those plays are due next Wednesday, so get writing!

Film—We’ll finish Pan’s Labyrinth and I’ll introduce our last paper. Also, The Godfather is definitely too long, so we might end with Do the Right Thing.

Here are our final essay questions for Film Class:

  1. What makes a great film? Give 3-5 qualities that a great film must have and use examples from movies we’ve shown in class and movies you’ve seen outside of it to make your case for the qualities a masterpiece must have.
  2. We’ve seen movies that are intricately constructed and controlled–Royal Tenenbaums, The Shining–and movies that are loosely arranged and improvised–Breathless, Chungking Express. Which style appeals to you more and why? Which other movies that you enjoy and admire use these styles? When does control work and when does improvisation?
  3. Consider the relationship of the mise-en-scène to the narrative structure of one of the films listed above by using one short scene (not used in the lecture). Show how the mise-en-scène in that scene functions within the overall form of the film identifying any patterns of parallelism, progression or development. In short how do the elements of the mise-en-scène work together to contribute to the film’s narration. *This question comes from a Southampton College film class.
  4. Who do you believe is the greatest director working today? Explain with examples and evidence from that director’s work?
  5. Compare and contrast one movie we saw in class with another movie you’ve seen. Explain how the director’s choices in each affect the viewer’s experience. Take particular care to look at mse-en-scene, cinematography, and editing.
  6. Write your own question and answer it. As always, include a significant amount of examples, details, and evidence to support your points.

May 29th–Film

What? You saw Chungking without me?

Anyway, I was going to show Amores Perros today, but we need to talk about it a bit…

And…we need to have a short discussion of Chungking as well. See this article for a bit more help.

Structure: What do you notice about how these two stories are organized? What does the first love story have to do with the second? How about the way time is used in the story?

Culture: What elements in the movie felt Chinese? In terms of values, behaviors, attitudes, rules…What elements in the movie felt Western? Explain.

Love stories: What are the common elements of a love story? Which elements are present in Chungking and which are not?

Symbolic Objects: Comment on the use of some of the objects in the movie and how they function as stand-ins for ideas or atmospheres or feelings. For instance: the pineapple cans, the airplane, a bar of soap, the apartment, eating.

Finally, let’s use the rest of this period as a writing time and take a look at some Mexican cinema next week.

Here are the movies I’m considering: