Class 6.1

Trial Run

Create a short (1-2 min) version of your video.

Script: a ¶ or two, written in a conversational style, communicating what’s exciting about the exhibit you’ve chosen to focus on. Think of this as an “elevator pitch”: a quick introduction to your planned topic that communicates why your full video should be funded.

Movie: 1-2 minutes, using your elevator pitch script as an audio track and drawing from multiple video shots. I recommend that you export from iMovie at 720p resolution. Look for “Share” in the file menu. You can opt to “share” directly to YouTube, or as a file saved on your hard drive (which you can then upload to YouTube via your Web browser). Once you have uploaded your trial run to YouTube, paste a link in the comments; we’ll watch them all in class.

This is your chance to get good peer feedback on your video style/technique. Don’t spend too much time on this assignment, but put in enough time to ensure that the feedback is useful.

Class 5.2

Museum Exhibits: Design and Philosophy

Make a preliminary choice as to the museum exhibit you will cover in the upcoming video essay. Revisit it and take a wealth of photographs and video clips (50+) in an effort to capture not just the exhibit itself, but its fine details, its explanatory placards, its lighting and ambience, its larger surroundings, and the way that visitors interact with it.

Responding to the appropriate comment below, upload a photo and a few words describing:

  1. The exhibit itself and why you think it’s worth your close attention: what makes it remarkable? what impression does it make on visitors?
  2. An intriguing detail, easy to overlook but crucial once noticed.
[spoiler title=’iMovie workshop’]Movie Parts:


Class 5.1

Sample Video Essays

Watch the following video essays:

In the comments below, note techniques employed by Tom Scott to engage his viewers’ interest and to teach them.

In addition, if you have a favorite YouTube educator, link a video that you like. For purposes of the upcoming video essay assignment, I’m particularly interested in videos that teach by reference to museum exhibits, interesting locations or (more generally) tourist destinations.

[spoiler title=’Exhibits Plug’] [/spoiler]

Class 4.2

The Courage to Continue

Winston Churchill is often credited with having said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” He never said those words, but the misquotation likely arose from the legend of Britain’s lonely stand against Germany. After the Germans overran Holland, Belgium and northern France, forcing the evacuation of British and French troops at Dunkirk, the French government capitulated to German occupation in June 1940. For twelve months, Britain faced Germany alone, enduring bombing raids that devastated London and southern England—though with military support from the US in the form of the “Lend-Lease” program. The British people’s proud defiance of German tyranny during the Battle of Britain is a commonplace of popular history. But this narrative was invented by Churchill himself a month before France’s capitulation, in the speech he delivered on the occasion of the Dunkirk evacuation: “We shall go on to the end.” Such is the power of his words that they did not merely rally popular support; they created the legend that we invariably repeat whenever we rehearse the history of the months that followed.

For class, please listen to Churchill’s Dunkirk speech. The video linked here has visuals drawn from contemporary photographs. You may find them helpful or you may find them distracting; either way, your focus should be on Churchill’s words, tone, pacing, delivery.

Then listen to Franklin Delano Roosevelt Pearl Harbor speech. Delivered before a joint session of Congress just a day after the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec 7, 1941, Roosevelt made a brief but persuasive case for war; Congress declared war on Japan just 33 minutes later.

In the Comments section, post:

  • Something that FDR or Churchill does that strikes you as distinctly different from Hitler’s oratory. Please note the time signature of the video.
  • Something that FDR or Churchill does that strikes you as distinctly similar to Hitler’s oratory. Please note the time signature of the video.

Class 4.1

Demagogues and Democracy


Adolf Hitler’s Closing Address to the Nazi Party Congress in September, 1934: DailyMotion (alternatively, non-subtitled version, text translation here). Don’t take notes, just watch. Then reflect. Then write down what you found most striking about this filmed speech, creating a list of 10 key qualities that contribute to its oratorical impact. Post one of them in reply to the appropriate comment below (and if someone else has already posted yours, post a different one).


An excerpt from The Ethics and Politics of Speech, a history of the rise and eventual transformation of rhetoric as an academic field during the 20th century. Pat Gehrke’s account of the “Hitler Problem” neatly captures the issue I want to see you debate and deliberate in the essay for this week.

After reading, in reply to the appropriate comment below post a short 1-2 sentence quotation from Gehrke that captures his central thought. If someone has already posted your top choice, find a different one to post, something that’s still important for understanding the historical context for the debate over Hitler’s oratory.

[spoiler title=’The Problem of Translation’] Three Translations of the Sep 8, 1934, speech, compared.[/spoiler]

Class 3.2

A Body of Photographic Evidence

Look ahead to the essay assignment due on Sunday and start thinking about what you want to write on. What passage(s) from Sontag do you plan to engage with? (Likely just one; two at most.) What photographic practice from the present day will you draw on? Will you apply Sontag as a lens to make sense of your photographs? Or will you use your photographs as evidence to patch a gap in Sontag’s theory?

For HW, assemble a collection of photographs that epitomizes the photographic practice you want to focus on. Five to ten photos is probably ideal, even though in your essay you’ll likely focus on just a few of them, since it’s nice to be spoiled for choice. Responding to my “Body of Evidence” comment below, please post:

  1. An evocative name for the photographic practice you plan to write on, along with a photo that epitomizes that practice.
  2. Responding to your first post, the passage from Sontag you plan to engage with, along with a second photo that shows the same pattern as the first.
  3. Responding again to your first post, a third photograph from your collection—this time a related oddity or an exception that proves the rule, along with a short verbal phrase that captures the way that this third photo challenges/contrasts the general pattern.

Since I’m hoping to see better titles on this upcoming essay, as a separate post respond to my “Titles” comment with a clever title. Aim to capture in words what your essay will do, its topic and mission. Usually titles are noun phrases (“A Tourist’s Best Friend”) and not sentences (“The Camera is a Tourist’s Best Friend”). You can use a subtitle to specify the essay’s topical focus: “A Tourist’s Best Friend: Photography and Travel.”

Class 3.1

Thinking about Photography

On Photography is a collection of essays written by Susan Sontag in the 1970s and originally published in the New York Review of Books. Sontag is a provocative writer, engaging our attention with startling and often counterintuitive claims about the function of photographic imagery in our society. She writes as a public intellectual rather than as an academic—you’ll note the absence of footnotes or other source citation. Some of her analysis may seem outdated in the digital era, but other points will strike you as truer now than ever before.

That dynamic is something I want you to watch for: as you read, consider how her claims about the social and cultural roles of photography play out in the present day. Look for opportunities to make connections to the way you and your friends use digital images on social media—and for that matter to the behavior of tourists around London. At the same time, be sensitive to differences, whether dramatic or merely nuanced, between the photographic culture of the 1970s as described by Sontag and the mobile phone/social media landscape of the present day.

Responding to the appropriate comment below, please post:

  1. One of Sontag’s more interesting claims. Shorter is better, but after the quote follow up with a brief paraphrase, putting her idea in words of your own. If someone else has already posted that particular passage, post a different quote from Sontag, so we can get as large a variety of quotes as possible.
  2. A photograph you’ve taken this semester OR a screengrab from an image-centered social media exchange that strikes you as jibing (positively or negatively) with something Sontag said. Explain the connection in your own words. (The point of connection with Sontag need not be the same point you highlighted just above.)

Note: if you encounter problems posting a photo, try editing the photo in Preview or Photoshop, changing the file type to .jpg or even .png. If that doesn’t work, save it as a .pdf and upload that.

Class 2.2

Visualizing Empire

Find and photograph several cultural artifacts—paintings, monuments, posters, perhaps even trophies brought back from the colonies—that express in some way the “Rhetoric of Empire”: perhaps a claim justifying mastery over other peoples, perhaps an effort to present native peoples on par with exotic animals. Ideally, most of your various cultural artifacts should form a coherent collection, a “Body of Evidence” as per our practice last semester. This will help organize the upcoming essay: you can only reference 5 distinct pieces of evidence in a 3-4 pp essay by identifying a key pattern in that body of evidence: Light and Darkness, Above and Below, Reason and Emotion. But at the same time, you should focus on artifacts which engage your interest. If you fall in love with a painting but you aren’t sure why it “feels right” for thinking about your passage from Conrad, take the time to figure out whether there really is a meaningful connection. Perhaps Colbert was right to insist on the importance of gut intuition, after all.

In casting about for cultural artifacts, consider:

  • The Albert Memorial in Hyde Park just north of the Crofton.
  • The many paintings, sculptures and decorative objects on display at the V&A museum (also just a short walk from your dorm).
  • Propaganda posters and artifacts from the colonial era on display at the National Army Museum.

All sources should date to the Victorian (1837-1901) or Edwardian era (1901-1914).

For class, post photos of the two most interesting cultural artifacts you found, together with (1) a label identifying the object (date and place of origin) and a brief commentary explaining why you think it’s interesting.

If someone else has already posted an artifact you want to post, add your commentary as a “reply” to their post, and don’t bother posting your photograph unless it’s substantially different from theirs.

[spoiler title=’Essay Length’]Grading Rubric [/spoiler] [spoiler title=’Pizzaro & the Inca’][/spoiler]

Class 2.1

Imperial Rhetoric

As a lead-in to the next essay, two fairly brief HW assignments (minimal writing, anyway).


Re-read “The White Man’s Burden.” What 3-6 word phrase best captures Kipling’s conception of empire? Put that quotation in a comment, below. (But reload this page and read what others have already posted, so as to avoid duplication.)


Heart of Darkness is considerably longer and more complex than Kipling’s poem. Efforts to isolate the rhetoric of Empire in Conrad’s novel face the challenge that different characters in the book have differing concepts of both the goals and methods that the imperial project should adopt.

For HW, I’d like you to quote a passage where a character (Marlowe? Kurtz? the Manager of the Middle Station?), explicitly or implicitly expresses a notion as to why European men should go to Africa. In a comment below, post the passage, along with the character associated with that view. Once again, reload the page before posting, so as to avoid duplication.

[spoiler title=’In Class: Virgil, Aeneid’] Virgil, Aeneid, Bk 6. 1129-1137 (in the Mandelbaum translation):

For other peoples will, I do not doubt,
still cast their bronze to breath with softer features,
or draw out of the marble living lines,
plead causes better, trace the ways of heaven
with wands and tell the rising constellations;
but yours will be the rulership of nations,
remember, Roman these will be your arts:
to teach the ways of peace to those you conquer,
to spare defeated peoples, tame the proud.

[/spoiler] [spoiler title=’In Class: Bath Abbey’] [/spoiler]

Class 1.2

Day Two: We Juggle Two Assignments

Reading Sarah Tarlow, “Landscapes of Memory: The Nineteenth Century Garden Cemetery.” As you read, look for connections between Tarlow’s account and what you’ve been learning in Humanities about the Victorian interest in death and mourning. In reply to my comment, below, post a line from Tarlow and a corresponding line from a Victorian poet or from Guendel’s lecture.

Writing Looking ahead to the first essay assignment, visit the Imperial War Museum and/or the National Army museum and find a poster (or cultural artifact) from WWI on display at the Imperial War Museum or the National Army Museum that you’d like to write about in the coming essay. Take LOTS of photos, as points of reference, not just of your poster, but of other objects on display and of explanatory placards.

  1. Make a list of 15 important visual details.
  2. Consider your wording: is the girl looking curiously or accusingly at her father? Aim for descriptive phrasing that provokes insights but remains true to what’s actually there.
  3. Identify one or two especially vital details, those which point most closely to larger insights, and under which other details can be organized as supporting evidence.

These one or two vital details, together with their subsidiary details, can form the basis for one or two ¶s. Write up your description and submit below, in reply to my second comment.

Remember to skip an extra line between ¶s, so the website gives you a proper indent at the start of each ¶.


Please email me your best photo of your poster.

[spoiler title=’In Class’] [/spoiler]