Room: DML 112
(syllabus subject to change)
Prerequisite: COM380, Communication:
Questions, Contexts, and Theory
Required Text: Zettl, Herbert. Sight, Sound, Motion: Applied Media Aesthetics.
This course should familiarize you with principles of media aesthetics and their possible communicative functions
within the production of audiovisual texts. In general, these principles include light,
color, two- and three-dimensional space, time/motion, and sound. More specifically,
the course will cover the important relationship between context and aesthetics;
varieties of lighting techniques and shadows; the expressive properties of black-and-white
and color; consequences of camera positioning, framing, and angle; lens choices; the
notion of mise-en-scne; editing possibilities; and the communicative functions of sound.
Student Learning Outcomes:
After taking this course, responsible and active students will
Respect for the subject
Rigorous, ethical scholarship
As someone who contemplates the impact of media on our culture and who critically consumes media products daily,
I take critical media scholarship seriously. I expect nothing less from the students enrolled in this course. I believe, however,
that any college courseparticularly one focused on media aestheticsshould be enjoyable and interesting. I certainly
hope you find this course to be just that. I will be there to help guide you through the course material and discussions,
but it will be your personal commitment to reading, study, and thoughtful analysis (through active viewing, engaging
discussion, quizzes, and written exercises) that ultimately determines your success in COM 402.
Five quizzes will consist of either multiple choice or short-answer essay questions (or both) and will focus on the readings
and lectures. Dates for quizzes are indicated on the schedule of sessions and can only be taken on the day indicated.
No exceptions! Each quiz is worth 20 points (100 total).
COM 402's two exams will consist of multiple choice, short-answer, and essay questions. Specific issues covered for each
exam will be announced in class. Exam dates are indicated on the schedule of sessions. Each exam is worth 100 points.
There will be two paper assignments for COM 402. Both papers should synthesize your own ideas and observations as
well as material from the lectures and readings. I expect you to demonstrate university-level writing and excellent critical-thinking skills.
Each paper should contain the following elements:
An opening paragraph that clearly lays out the thesis and intent of the paper;
A body consisting of a series of paragraphs that systematically develop and support your thesis;
A concluding paragraph that clearly sums up your thesis and provides a sense of closure for your paper;
A flawless presentation (style, word-choice, grammar, and spelling).
Finally, each paper should be creative, clearly written, and a pleasure to read.
#1 will be a collaborative exercise in closely evaluating the aesthetic
choices of either a mass-mediated advertisement
or a short movie clip. To begin, you will be clustered into dyads. You will select and record a short television commercial
or film clip and watch it closely a significant number of times. Then, your group will collaborate on writing an essay in which you
explain how the aesthetic choices used by the media creators functioned to serve what you determine to be the clips primary communicative purpose.
This paper should be four to five pages in length (typed, double-spaced, 12-point font, no unnecessary gaps between paragraphs) and
reflect in magnificent detail your groups insightful analysis. More details of this assignment will be forthcoming.
The due date is indicated on the schedule of sessions. Super excellent papers will be worth 70 points. All group members will earn the same grade.
Paper #2 will be a lonely exercise in
designing a one-minute video project of your own. I want to know every
detail you intend to include as well as how you plan to achieve them technically. I want to know precisely what you
plan to shoot, how you plan to frame those shots, each shot’s duration, and the transitions you plan to use. Every
aesthetic choice you make works rhetorically to structure meaning. Therefore, I want to know the precise reasons for
your choices as well as how you expect them to facilitate your communication goals.
Your proposal should be at least to five to ten pages in length (including text, location sketches,
storyboards, script, and shot sheet) and will reflect in magnificent detail your
well-conceived PSA. More details of this assignment will be forthcoming. The
due date is indicated on the schedule of sessions. Super excellent proposals will be
worth 70 points.
Participation in COM 402 consists primarily of your willingness to contribute to class discussion of
relevant issues and happily participate in class activities. I am a firm believer in the process of
collaborative learning, which means that your ideas and experiences are welcomed and encouraged.
Your active participation is a crucial part of cultivating an open atmosphere of worthwhile learning.
Participation points equal 60.
Ethical scholarship is of the utmost importance.
Cheating or plagiarism on any assignment will not be tolerated and will result in a failing grade.
In addition, "Consistent with the College's Academic Integrity Policy, I will report all violations
of this course's academic integrity policy to the Dean's office. Students who have committed multiple
instances of academic dishonesty can be subject to institutional penalties like probation, suspension,
or expulsion, in addition to the penalties for this course."
Okay, here it comes. In a class whose success depends heavily on student participation
and activity, it is crucial that you attend each session. Therefore, attendance is required.
Ill take role at the beginning of each session. Ordinarily, tardiness counts as an absence.
If you have an excellent reason for arriving a few moments late (but not habitually), it is
your responsibility to contact me after class to ensure that you are counted as present, not mine.
Because illnesses and emergencies do arise during the course of the semester, you will be allowed
only one unexcused absence. Providing this is not an exam or quiz day, I will require no explanation.
However, each unexcused absence after one will result in 30 points deducted from your final score.
Further, I absolutely will not grant any leniency for absences involving the excuse of picking someone
up or taking someone to the airport! Quizzes cannot be made up.
Grades in COM 402 will be based on student performance on quizzes, exams, written analyses,
participation in class discussion, and class attendance.
quizzes 5@ 20 points each 100 points
exams 2@ 100 points each 200 points
paper assignments 2@ 70 points each 140 points
participation 60 points
A 465-500 A- 450-464 B+ 435-449 B 420-434
B- 400-419 C+ 385-399 C 370-384 C- 350-369
D+ 335-349 D 320-334 D- 300-319 F 299-