wrt fall 2012 daily homework

About Homework Assignments

The assignments that are listed on this page are to be completed before class starts the day they are due. The latest assignment will be placed at the top to reduce scrolling.

for Tuesday, 12/4

The texts for next week will a feature-length documentary about one of the great contemporary photographers and two radio shows about truth in photography. I’ll also add some optional essays on truth in photography, which are just fascinating.

Annie Leibovitz, Life Through a Lens

In the Valley of the Shadow of Doubt” with Errol Morris on RadioLab

This piece is informed by three one long article by Errol Morris in three parts that appeared in The New York Times in September and October, 2007. Links to the articles:

The essays make up the first chapter of his fascinating book, Believing Is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography (2011).

Fake Photos and Cold Specks from Studio360

The discussion of fake photography starts at 7:50. Before that is a very interesting discussion of the future of the NYC waterfront after Hurricane Sandy. I encourage you to listen to it, but it is not required.

I also encourage you to visit the exhibition Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which Kurt Anderson discusses in come detail.


for Tuesday, 11/20

Please read essays by Sontag and Burgin and read through the The Photo Essays. After reading Sontag and Burgin, add their ideas to the timeline you started for 11/15.

Some of the images in the Photo Essays may be disturbing. If so, take some time away from them and then prepare yourself for what you might see. Seeing, as our readings suggest, is important when it comes to photography.

Please also complete your photo essay proposal, which is due by 11:00pm (so that it is done before Thanksgiving). Details for the proposal will be added here.

Proposal Assignment
The photo essay you create will have some sort of meaning behind it beyond the images as individual photos. What overall point are the images as a group going to make? What are they going to reveal? The Chernobyl essay, for example, is making an argument about many things—the risks we take as humans, how humans tend to try to hide away the effects of our use of energy, the health impacts of the energy we use, and so on. The Detroit images are making real the decay of one of the great cities in America. The portraits of the patients under anesthesia force us to see the human condition in an alternative way, in a way that is kind of like a death-like state, cyborg-ish with tubes and masks covering us.

The mail question I’m going to look for being addressed in your proposal is: What overall point is your photo essay is going to make? Forcing yourself to address this question now—that is, before you’ve started making your images—is important because similar points can be made with multiple subjects. Knowing the point you want to make will help you choose subjects as you view them through the viewfinder or the LCD screen on your phone or the back of a digital camera.

Creating a photo essay is 100 times harder than writing a regular essay with alphabetic text, and more complex rhetorically than compose a mashup. Merely choosing a topic is one part of the difficulty. Knowing ahead of time what point (what story) you want to tell is even more difficult. So, when you are making your images, know that the subjects might be a house or a building or a graveyard or feet (and these are all worthy subjects; I’m just using them as examples as they are the first to pop in my head!), but the overall point of that collection of images must be larger than that. It should reveal something about something. That something can be personal (a la Kelly’s self-portraits as discussed in her essay) or it can be local (as in the New Orleans Six Flags photos or the ones about the Mosque in NYC) or something much much larger.

So, I’d like to post to the course blog a concise 500 – 600-word proposal in which you discuss in this order:

  1. What overall point your photo essay is going to make. In this section, do not discuss the subject of the images at all; just discuss the point you want to me. Make references to the readings and photo essays if you think it enhance your discussion.
  2. The subjects you are considering to help you make your point. Note that I used the word “subjects.” I’d like you to propose a few options, and discuss how they will help you make the overall point you want to make. Make references to the readings and photo essays if you think it enhance your discussion.
  3. The overall feel of the images that you’d like to produce. By “feel” I mean how the images will look, but not the actual subjects. Rather, do you see them as being black and white? Color? Highly saturated, like the New Orleans Six Flags images? Desaturated? Grainy? Old-timey looking, and so on. Also discuss how this feel matches or compliments the point you are trying to make and the subjects you have chosen. Make references to the readings and photo essays if you think it enhance your discussion.

The more important and significant the meaning or point you are trying to make the more affective and effective your photo essay will be. If you are having trouble thinking of subjects but know the point, discuss the trouble you are having. Don’t just default to something because of a due date. It is better to work to something you’ll be proud of and there is plenty of time for the assignment.

Due date: the sooner the better, but definitely no later than Saturday, November 24. I’d like to have comments on your proposals before Thanksgiving, so you have the holiday weekend to start composing your images, but if you need more time, I understand.

Please don’t email BW with subject ideas; as stated above, the key at this point is to think about the point you want to make. The subject should come as an extension of that. I’ll provide you with suggestions in my comments.

for Thursday, 11/15

Please read essays by Hine, Weston, Berger, Kuhn, Kelly. After reading the essays, I’d like you to create a timeline in which you trace ideas about photography from Niepce through Kelly. For your timeline, focus on ONE of the following: how photography is defined, how it is perceived as a useful or not to society, OR how the photographic image is interpreted.

The timeline need not be long; just list the date of the essay, the author, a brief note or two about your chosen focus, and the page number(s) that led you to that conclusion. We’ll discuss the timelines in class; they will not be collected.

for Tuesday, 11/13

Please read essays by Niepce, Daguerre, Arago, Baudelaire, and Stieglitz. Read them in this order so you can begin to see the progression of thoughts about photography. You can learn about and see the first photograph, which is by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce and dates to 1824, at: http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/permanent/wfp/.

for Tuesday, 10/30

Please re-read Vaidhyanathan on copyright, look through the Cornell University copyright table, and re-watch “A Fair(y) Use Tale” by Eric Faden, Associate Professor of English/Film and Media Studies at Bucknell University, on the Fair Use Doctrine:


Also read the following:

for Tuesday, 10/23

This is a very important weekend for the mashup project, as your Storyboard and Mashup Summary are due on Tuesday, 10/23, and the first draft of your mashup (1/3rd of the final length) is due by classtime on Thursday, 10/25. This weekend you should begin (if you haven’t already) searching for videos that you might use in your mashup. You should also start working with the video editor you are using. The more practice you have with it the better off you will be.

A storyboard is a frame-by-frame sketch of what you think you will include in your mashup, very similar to the sketch that we made in class on the white board of the first 20 seconds of “Imagine This”:

And it should have the same level of artistry as I, Billablo! LOL

For the assignment, I’d like you to create a storyboard for the first 20 seconds of your mashup. Your storyboard should include:

  • frames and sketches for each clip
  • the length of each clip in seconds
  • note if there is juxtaposition, montage, or intertextuality
  • note when the background music and when it will be starting
  • provide a brief overall description of what is being shown and the purpose.

The storyboard should be handwritten on one piece of blank, unlined paper. Scan your storyboard into a computer and create a blog post in which you include your storyboard as well as a 200-word summary of what is happening in these first 20 seconds and what you anticipate will happen over the rest of the video. The more detail and ideas you have here the better. When posting add “storyboard” as a category, which will help us find then easier.

Here are two sample storyboards from prior classes:

for Tuesday, 10/9

This weekend starts out readings on semiotics in Sean Hall’s This Means This This Means That. Please read the Introduction and Chapters 1, 2, and 3. However, as I just tweeted:


for Tuesday, 9/19

Please read McCloud’s “Vocabulary of Comics” (now online) and “Blood in the Gutters” (to be added by Monday). Browse through Garfield Minus Garfield and read the vertical comic Bloom Like an Artist by Ida Eva Margrethe Neverdahl (jellyvampire).

The first weekly bloggers at Textual Arousal are DW and JB. So, look for their blog posts by Tuesday and start replying!

for Thursday, 9/13

Please read Edwards and Tryon (2009) and Tryon (2008) and Tryon (2009). Links are available on the Readings page. Also watch all videos linked-to on the course schedule page for Thursday, 9/13.

for Tuesday, 9/11

Please read or watch the following (links available on Readings page): Kelly on Screen Literacy; McIntosh on historical remixes; Ferguson’s Everything is a Remix (parts 1 – 4); Gaylor’s RIP: A Remix Manifesto.

Start live-Tweeting the readings and be prepared to discuss them in detail.

for Thursday, 9/6

Please read the syllabus closely and read Computer Classroom Etiquette.

Download and install the Firefox browser (if you already have it, make sure it is the most recent version), and install the Download Helper plugin (requires Firefox). Download Helper allows you to save YouTube and other videos to your computer.

Please read the Social Media Blogging and Tweeting assignments. Think about names for the collaborative course blog, which will be dedicated to visual rhetoric and things related.

If you are new to blogging, some time soon please read Jill Walker-Rettberg’s “What is a Blog?” which can be downloaded from the Readings page. If you are new to Twitter, some time soon please read Johnson’s How Twitter will change the way we live and Silver’s The difference between thin and think tweets.

Please watch the following videos. The first two are explorations of the implications of YouTube. The others are on Creative Commons licensing, copyright, and fair use. These are all themes we’ll be returning to throughout the semester. Come to class ready to discuss them; there is no written response due.

“An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube,” by Michael Wesch (55.33 minutes):

“A Crisis of Significance” by a student in one of Wesch’s classes:

“Larry Lessig on laws that choke creativity”

“A Shared Culture”

“A Fair(y) Use Tale” by Eric Faden, Associate Professor of English/Film and Media Studies at Bucknell University, on the Fair Use Doctrine

back to top

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *