Studies of Cross-Cultural Analysis in Radio/TV/Film

426, RTF, Spring 02; 6-10 pm Tues, 325 Annie May Swift

Chuck Kleinhans
office: 209 Annie May Swift; office hours: Tu 3-5 and by appointment

"Cultural exchange starts with misunderstanding. We are not afraid of misunderstanding." --Tatsumi Hijikata, founder of Buhto art

Prerequisite: grad or senior standing, permission of instructor. The course will enroll up to 10 MA, MFA and PhD students and up to 3 undergraduates. The course will be directly pertinent to students interested in Latin American studies, international studies, communications, art, journalism, sociology, performance, anthropology, comparative literature, and area studies.

Offered in conjunction with Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the course examines the theory and practice of media which cross dominant/marginal cultural boundaries. Emphasis is on some basic concerns in international cross-cultural analysis, such as: the question of documentary realism; ethnographic, grass roots, and political approaches; problems of verbal and nonverbal translation; variations in reception; and professional ethical questions. Various examples will be screened and discussed to develop a comparative analysis of different media and modes of representation. A majority of examples will be drawn from Latin America, but students are encouraged to investigate any area.

Lectures, readings, screenings and discussions provide a basic framework for an ongoing student journal which is shared with the rest of the class, and a modest field work project which may be presented/documented in any suitable medium: photography, film, video, print, audio, performance, etc. The basic parameters of the field work project involve the student examining and representing members of a specific and significantly different culture than their own; the difference may be based in nationality, gender, class, race, ethnicity, religion, age, national culture, etc. In addition to presenting the work for class critique, a final analytic summary of the project is required.

Students who wish to do substantial media projects are advised to consult with the instructor early on in the course; any project must be preceded with a written proposal that includes a timeline for completion and budget. This proposal must be reviewed and approved by the instructor for this course and the RTF faculty production committee before work begins. The burden on equipment/facilities in RTF is always severe, especially in spring quarter, so MFAs and students with advanced production skills will be given preference, but on the understanding that their projects must be relatively modest. Other students are encouraged to work in accessible media (e.g. 35mm slide show, cassette audio, home camcorder, Macintosh, etc). Collaborative work is possible. Students with no previous experience or training in media making are expected to use simple consumer level equipment: snapshot cameras, cassette tape recorders, etc. Level of experience will be taken into account in grading: that is, an MFA student is expected to perform at a much higher level than someone without hands-on media experience.

A core part of the learning/grading experience will be student journals. These will take a fairly fixed form: a minimum of 3 single spaced typed pages per week prepared and distributed to all other students by CourseInfo by midnight Sunday (one day before class). Two items will be included in the journals. One is an Inventory of Major Ideas: here the student records what seem to be the major ideas in the week's readings, screenings, class discussion, and other areas of intellectual/personal life experience. Second is a Commentary, which address the major ideas (including what other students provide) and plays with them, challenges them, finds examples or counter examples, and in other ways revises and refines the Inventory. It is assumed that both of these become the basis for contributing to the discussion each week. (See sample and more info at the end of the syllabus.) The Commentary can be done with visual material; the student is responsible for getting it online in a viewable form.

Students are expected to do some additional reading which will be related to their interests and previous experiences. These will be worked out with Chuck.

Students may elect to do (1) a very modest fieldwork project and turn in a final journal about 40 pages long, or (2) do a journal of about 25 pages, a modest project, and a 10 page research paper, or (3) do a very substantial fieldwork project and turn in a final journal about 20 pages long. There will be no late projects; if it's not done on time, you have to do papers and/or journals.

Course readings: (at Norris)

Carol B. Stack. All Our Kin: Strategies for Survival in a Black Community. NY: Harper- Collins, 1983. paperback.

Roger N. Lancaster. Life is Hard: Machismo, Danger, and the Intimacy of Power in Nicaragua. Berkeley: U of CA Press, 1992. $14.00

Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (NY: Routledge, 1992)

Chon Noriega, Shot in America: Television, the State, and the Rise of Chicano Cinema Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000.


course administration
overview of course
Introduction to cross cultural analysis--
ONE. The center presents the periphery
lecture/discussion with exerpts from mainstream U.S. media:
Traffic; Salvador; The Year of Living Dangerously; Proof of Life; Like Water for Chocolate; Christian Children’s Fund commercial; CNN
screening/discussion: representing the Other
The Borders Within, Mary VanVlierbergen, (RTF collection)
The Social Register, d. Chad Raphael, (1993, video, US, 15 min.) CK pers. copy

Sunday 14 April--special screening with director Humberto Solas present, Lucia. 6.30-9.30, Annie May Swift auditorium

16 April

assigned viewing (library media center)
La Opéracion (c. 1982, 40 Min. Anna Maria Garcia) [Documentary exposé on systematic sterilization of Puerto Rican women, made by a Puerto Rican woman.]
assigned reading [with time estimate in brackets]
Claudia Springer, “Ethnographic Circles: A short history of ethnographic film.” [0.5]
Edmundo Desnoes, "The Photographic Image of Underdevelopment"[1.5] [JC 33}
Carol B. Stack. All Our Kin: Strategies for Survival in a Black Community. [2.5]
start reading Noriega, Shot in America
José Piedra, “Pato Donald’s Gender Ducking: The Three Cabelleros” [JC 39]
The politics of cross-cultural representation--discussion based on readings
Song of Ceylon (1934, d. Basil Wright, U.K./Sri Lanka, 39 min. B&W sound)
Disney studio/Norman Ferguson, The Three Caballeros (exerpt)
DeeDee Hallek, The Gringo in Mananaland (61 min. video, US, 1996) (exerpt) NU RTF

23 April
Theme: the struggle for representation
read--Noriega, Shot in America

6-10 discussion with visiting scholar Chon Noriega of Shot in America

30 April

Sign up for short meeting with Kleinhans to pitch media project

Theme; choices in the politics of representation
view (at library media center)
Masai Women (1974, 52 min. Ethnographic documentary supporting anthropological fieldwork)

Warrior Marks (1993, 54 min. Pratibha Parmar with Alice Walker) Activist documentary against female genital mutilation in Africa.
read: Inderpal Grewal, “Warrior Marks: Global Feminism’s Neo-Colonial Discourse in a Multicultural Context” (on reserve)
start Pratt
discussion of Masai Women and Warrior Marks
Las Hurdes [Land Without Bread] (1933, Luis Bunuel, Spain, 27 min. b&w, sound).
Valentin de las Sierras (c. 1966, Bruce Baillie, U.S./Mexico, color/ sound, 10 min Fake Fruit Factory (1986, Chick Strand, U.S./Mexico, color/sound, 22 min


The Tourist GAZE
Ilene Goldman on Love, Women and Flowers and interview with Rodriguez (from JC)
Crang, “Picturing Practices: Research Through the Tourist Gaze”
Pratt, Imperial Eyes
Amor, mujeres y flores/Love. Women and Flowers (Marta Rodriguez and Jorge Silva, Colombia, b/w, sound, 52 min.) WMM
Cannibal Tours (Dennis O’Rourke, Papua New Guinea/Australia, 77 min. 1988)
discussion of tourist gaze

14 May
The Artist as Tourist

selection from Trinh, TBA. (on reserve for the course)
Selection from Portillo in Fregosa (on reserve)
Re-Assemblage, (Trinh T. Minh-ha) U.S./France/W. Africa, color, sound, 40 min.
El Diablo Nunca Duerme (The Devil Never Sleeps) d. Lourdes Portillo, 1995 Mexico/US

21 May

Strategies of/for/about/in spite of Representation
Roger N. Lancaster. Life is Hard, intro, part 1 I, II, V, VI, part 2 Rolando, Flora, Maximo, Jazmina, part 3, XVII, XVIII, conclusion
Julia Lesage, "El Crucero Farmers Speak" [0.5]
Kleinhans, "Some Messages from the Backs of Postcards" [0.5]
discussion of viewing and readings
Postcards From Nicaragua (exerpts) (1984-5, Chuck Kleinhans, U.S./Nicaragua, video color/sound, 58 min.) CK copy
Filmando La Gigantona (Kleinhans) CK copy
discussion: problems of translation
El Crucero (1984-87, Julia Lesage, video, U.S/Nicaragua, color/sound, 60 min.)

28 May

The Glocal Borders
reading: John T. Caldwell, “Introduction: Global Conglomeration and the Performance of Local Identity” Emergences 11:2 (2001)
discussion and screening,
(exerpts)The Mexican Tapes (Louis Hock,) 4 hours CK copy
John Caldwell, Rancho California (Por Favor)

4 June

Presentation of student field work

11 June

Presentation of student field work )

Final papers/journals due, Tuesday, exam week, 4 pm (June 11). Everyone must do a 4pp postmortem on the fieldwork experience: what did you learn, what would you change next time? If a student could not complete the fieldwork, a final 10-12 pp analytical paper based on a course topic is due. No late papers; no late grades.

Some examples of previous fieldwork projects:

•Two grad students in anthro documented a male Korean student’s first U.S. haircut (with a female stylist, the first time he was touched by a woman outside his family). Snapshot photos and cassette audio.
•A Latin American studies senior used slides and a cassette tape recorder to examine several hours of people coming and going in a taqueria and an adjoining latino video store.
•A senior documented (interviews taped and then transcribed) the situation of gay and lesbian teens in Chicago including their reactions to newspaper coverage of gays and lesbians in the mainstream media.
•A sociology PhD student documented with extensive interviewing Black drag queen culture in Chicago. Presented as transcribed and edited in print.
•An RTF PhD used photos and simple audio to document and explain step dancing in an African American sorority on campus.
•An RTF PhD edited together found footage from a travel promo video for expensive customized visits to South Pacific islands and 8mm video shot in the Micronesia section of the Field Museum of Natural History of museum visitors.
•An RTF MFA student video documented a dinner with an extended family with three generations of German immigrants to the U.S. Interviews discussed generational differences.

Journal example:
1. Stack’s example of the hospital visit shows that (at least in this community) kinship is established more on the basis of ongoing current relationships than on blood ties.

Is this true in other classes and communities? If videotaping kinship, which in this case seems initially to be visible and legally established, how would I deal with this? Visual documents can deal well with empirical evidence, but how can they deal with such changes in our expectations? Is there a prejudice or ideological supposition built into visual media?

To syllabi

To vita index

To topCurrent issue Jump Cut home