Each week, students will submit one or two discussion questions to the course website. Discussion questions should attempt to synthesize course readings and the film for the week. In your question, please identify the central question that the reading(s) address that you find most applicable to the film. What can the readings help us to see about the film text? In conjunction with the class online Discussion project, students will also have an opportunity to participate in the annual film festival Women Take the Reel when it will be hosted by MIT. Further guidelines for completing this course component will be provided when the festival schedule is finalized.
- Discussion Questions: Boys Don’t Cry (PDF) (Courtesy of Kara DeMilio and Hannah Siegel. Used with permission.)
Oral Presentation and Paper
Each student will be responsible for leading one class discussion, centered around the readings and film for the week. The focus of this inquiry is to investigate how the various disciplines represented by the selected texts contribute (or do not) in a meaningful way to an understanding of the construction of contemporary body culture and its expression in film and popular media. In conjunction with this presentation, the course leader will write a 5–7 page paper that addresses the assigned film in conjunction with the week's readings. Students might, for instance, use a specific theoretical paradigm in order to elucidate an aspect of the assigned film, closely analyze the film text in light of its sociocultural significance, or assess the strengths and limitations of the week's readings in explaining larger cultural understandings surrounding the body. Students are welcome to bring in other visual materials to support their presentation, though it is not required.
- "Addressing Transphobia with Boys Don’t Cry" (PDF) (Courtesy of Hannah Siegel. Used with permission.)
- "Boys Don't Cry Film Analysis" (PDF) (Courtesy of Kara DeMilio. Used with permission.)
Final Papers and Final Paper Proposals
A 15–20 page paper investigating an aspect of body culture is due at the end of the course which will serve as the final project. Though you have quite a bit of flexibility in selecting a topic (and we encourage you to pursue projects in your chosen disciplines) your overarching question should be how a film and its related media texts speak to the course's focus on feminist media theory and cultural constructions of the woman's body. The point will be for you to advance a well-developed argument with respect to your chosen topic. Papers will be evaluated on the basis of originality, the scope of the research, and the clarity and coherence of the writing.
In order to prepare for your final paper, you will be handing in a 2–3 page proposal, with a preliminary bibliography. Course faculty will provide commentary and additional suggestions to help you prepare for the final paper, which is due at the last class meeting.
- "Smells Like Teen Vomit: Abjection, Unruliness, and Genre in Black Swan and Jennifer's Body." (PDF) (Courtesy of a student in the course. Used with permission.)
- "The Phenomenal Woman: How Beauty Shop Redefines Postfeminism to Makes Space for Black Bodies" (PDF) (Courtesy of Hannah Siegel. Used with permission).
- "Angels in America: AIDS as an Epidemic of Signification." (PDF) (Courtesy of Kara DeMilio. Used with permission.)