Sunday, June 11, 2006

final student projects @ uw

the following comments are my reflections of students' final projects in com 495: sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. the final project assignment can be found here.

    [please note: no grades are mentioned below. also, names and/or initials are used with students' permission.]
vanessa brandon's "the soul of rock 'n' roll" is an extraordinary paper + mixed cd that explores, among other things, the many influences of blacks and black culture on 1960s rock n roll. on one page, i'm reading about led zeppelin; the next page, i'm reading about robert johnson, willie dixon, and sonny boy williamson; and the next page, i'm reading about the influence of gospel on artists like aretha franklin, marvin gaye, and roberta flack (who, vanessa reminds us, sang "killing me softly" way before the fugees). her research includes an academic article from popular music and society (mike daley, "why do whites sing black?: the blues, whiteness, and early histories of rock"), late-60s/early-70s newspaper articles from the new york times and oakland post, and an article from 1963 from drum great max roach (!) about white exploitation (roach: "White supremacy ... has been used to stultify and inhibit the growth of Afro-American music into what could be a dynamic and vital part of this nation's cultural life"). my favorite sentence from her paper: "What really got me interested in the influences of rock music is the band Led Zeppelin, and when you really like something, you research it." not only did vanessa research this topic, she made media about it. she mixed a cd that juxtaposes some of her favorite zep songs with the original versions. so, while reading the paper, i was listening to memphis minnie and kansas joe mccoy's "when the levee breaks," then zep's version; robert johnson's "travelling riverside blues," then zeppelin's versioin; leadbelly's "the gallows pole," then zep's version. a smart and incisive project.

keri brown's wiki entry, "woodstock," is, as its title suggests, an exploration into the three-day rock festival that took place in woodstock, new york, in 1969. the project begins with a collection of oral histories from people who attended woodstock, from those who couldn't make it, and from those on the stage. a fascinating collection of perspectives, but i would have liked to hear keri's analysis of these personal stories. what is learned from these stories is that woodstock was about much more than music - it was about spirituality, community, drugs, free love, an alternative to vietnam, and experimental living. the project ends with a collection of media coverage - then and now - of woodstock, all from the new york times, as well as links to a number of videos about the concert. keri has put together an interesting and engaging multimedia exhibit of a concert that defined a decade.

y. c. put together a fascinating and impeccably well-designed project that profiles 4-5 number one billboard singles from 1963-1969. half of the project is a print-based portfolio that profiles 18 singles. each single is accompanied by an image of the band (or their album cover), a short profile of the band, and the lyrics of the song. the other half of the project is a mixed cd that features the 18 songs. this project is smart in what it reveals to readers: a fast and profound shift in musical tastes from early-1960s (think "sugar shack" by bands with names like jimmy gilmer and the fireballs) to the experimental mid-60s (think dylan's and the byrds' "mr. tambourine man") to the free-your-mind late-60s (think the beatles' "lucy in the sky with diamonds" and "come together"). as yc acknowledges, there is so many more songs to explore and so many different directions to analyze and that is part of the fun of the project. one significant critique: although her profiles were clear and interesting, they relied almost entirely on wikipedia. too many smart people have written too many smart articles, chapters, and books about popular music to rely solely on wikipedi; one missed connection was barry mcguire's 1965 "eve of destruction," a song that was discussed in one of our readings, todd gitlin's the sixties. what yc has put together resembles a museum exhibition - you read about, look at, and listen to culture changing over the decades. smart project.

Madeline Chipps' wiki entry, "JFK assassination," explores the assassination of president john f. kennedy and seeks to answer three questions: "what specific evidence did the zapruder film add to investigations of kennedy's assassination? what conclusions of the warren commission were put to question after the release of this film? and what were the surrounding issues and consequences of this situation?" madeline begins with an overview of that november day in 1963. next, through text and images, she explores the magic bullet theory as well as a number of inconsistencies with accepted explanations of the assassination. madeline then draws from david r. wrone's book, the zapruder film, to discuss the footage of the assassination, captured famously by a bystander, abraham zapruder. what happens next, happens fast: lyndon johnson is sworn in; lee harvey oswald is killed by jack ruby; and JFK's funeral - televised live to shattered americans. madeline ends by noting lasting influences, including works of jackie kennedy by andy warhol, oliver stone's film JFK, and - my favorite - the JFK-inspired seinfeld episode. madeline does a great job researching her topic, and draws from books like david m. lubin's shooting kennedy and art simon's dangerous knowledge. my main critique is that the body of the project is disconnected from the sources which, instead of being intregrated into the paper, sort of stand alone as an annotated bibliography. in all, a strong project that will peak visitors' interest and curiosity.

kristin cook, rj31, and kim mason joined forces to produce a wiki entry called "battle of the drugs." in an attempt to explore the role of various drugs of the 1960s, the project focuses on eight: alcohol, caffeine, cocaine, heroin, LSD, marijuana, PCP, and tobacco. further, each drug is explored via three different approaches: biological aspects (researched and written by kristin cook); psychological aspects (by kim mason); and legal aspects (by rj31). so, for each drug, biological questions such as what is it made of? what is the effective dose? what is the lethal dose? and what effects does the drug have on the body? are asked and answered. likewise, each section under legal aspects is organized into nine sections: its actual or relative potential for abuse; scientific evidence of its pharmacological effect, if known; the state of current scientific knowledge regarding the drug or other substance; its history and current pattern of abuse; the scope, duration, and significance of abuse; what, if any, risk there is to the public health; its psychic or physiological dependence liability; whether the substance is an immediate percursor of a a substance already controlled under this subchapter. this project is strong, a reflection of three students combining their energy and interests. at the same time, group work is difficult and it's hard not to notice the difference in voice and style in each of the entries. so my main critical suggestion is to go through this project and edit for consistency in style and voice. also, it would be interesting to make more direct and explicit connections to the sixties; the essay, "a look at 20th century anti-marijuana propaganda," is the kind of cultural analysis that can really enrich a project like this. at the same time, this project - perhaps more than any other - is extremely scalable: it can and should grow in terms of more entries and new approaches to each of these entries.

amy dang designed a powerful powerpoint about amelia boynton robinson, the selma marches of 1965, and what has become known as "bloody sunday." this project - which is to be read and watched but also felt - traces the life of robinson and tries to piece together what happened on march 7th, 1965. at times, the project is difficult to behold: it is difficult to look at images of white police beating black people, it is difficult to look at tear gas sprayed into crowds, and it is difficult to watch human beings (of any color) being dragged like cattle. at the same time, amy has accompanied these perspectives with those of hope - something that is made manifest through the heroic life of amelia boynton robinson. through images, oral histories, and video interviews, amy discovers - and shares with us - an amazing life. as amy notes, robinson was also the first black woman to run for congress in alabama (running under one of the greatest campaign slogans ever: "a voteless people is a hopeless people"). although the project overall would be even stronger with more academic resources, amy does a really good job using multiple media to tell a story that is suprisingly, and unacceptably, unknown.

emily fewel's wiki entry, "aprons to suits and everything in between: how cover lines illustrate the (accurate?) progression of women over time," traces the representation of american women in the 20th century by looking at women's magazines' (cosmopolitan, ladies' home journal, vogue, and new woman) covers and story topics. beginning with a cover from 1896, moving to one from 1917, then going to two from 1938 and 1955, emily presents the "model" concept of pre-1960s femininity: women, according to such magazine covers, should stay at home, serve their husbands, and care for their families. yet the 1960s, with new concepts and consciousness of sexuality, new movements toward gender equality, and with books like betty friedan's the feminine mystique (1963), things began to shift. drawing from carolyn kitch's the girl on the magazine cover, emily traces a shift in the magazine covers, especially in the ways that they treat sexual liberation and begin to cover stories that contained cultural and intellectual topics. although emily is quick to critique the magazines for not devoting enough space to issues of empowerment, she notes cogently that the 1960s did indeed bring about shifts in consciousness regarding traditional gender roles, feminism, and gender equality.

amy heather's paper + annotated lyric sheet + mixed cd explores the beatles' most creative period - between 1965-1967, when they created rubber soul, revolver, and sgt. pepper's lonely hearts club band. amy's project is a huge success. the project includes three elements. first, there is a mixed tape that includes seven songs from the three albums (amy's selection process: "the songs were selected by the buzz surrounding them, use of exotic instruments and noises, as well as my own curiosity!"). second, she compiles the songs' lyrics. and third, in a stroke of genius, she uses microsoft word's "track changes" function to add commentary/analysis in the margins of the lyric sheets. in other words, the track change bubbles that usually remind us we need to further edit serve instead to afford us a meta-level reading of her project; we read both the lyrics and amy's commentary together, and nearly simultaneously. along the way, amy reveals that many of the ideas, issues, questions, and concerns of the beatles - like metaphysical transcendence, psychedelic drugs, eastern instruments, and new technologies, for example - were some of the key concepts of the 1960s. her analysis of "tomorrow never knows," from revolver, is especially interesting and fuses together notes regarding recording tactics, timothy leary, lsd, and the dalai lama. one of the reasons this project is so strong is that it relies on and builds off of books, four to be exact: mark hertsgaard's a day in the life: the music and artistry of the beatles; philip norman's shout! the beatles in their generation; denis o'dell and bob neaverson's at the apple's core: the beatles from the inside; and tim riley's tell me why: the beatles: album by album, song by song, the sixties and after.

Melissa Huemmer's wiki entry, "the 1960's sexual revolution: a glimpse into the sexual revolution that inspired a youth culture," is a tour de force. melissa has two main questions: what was the sexual revolution all about? and how did the media frame and deal with its presence? the project is divided into four sections - understand; see; read; update and relate - and includes a massive (and diverse in terms of source and genre) bibliography. in the understand section, melissa provides some excellent context, arguing that although many 1960s-era developments (including new knowledge about human sexuality, the pill, drugs, and a growing counterculture) helped facilitate the sexual revolution, it also can be traced historically, as a reaction to the straight-laced 1950s, but also as a development that had been building for a century. melissa includes a "who's who" of human agents for change and includes freud, alfred kinsey, writers like dh lawrence (lady chatterly's lover) and henry miller (tropic of cancer), the great gloria steinem, and hugh hefner. in the see section, melissa compiles a number of images that, depending on who's looking, are beautiful, liberating, and subversive, or vulgar and evidence of the end of civilization. the last two sections - read and update/relate - compile news stories from then and now as a means to better understand how media outlets like the new york times covered (positively, negatively, and "neutrally") the sexual revolution. this project contains a high level of energy - clearly derived from the author and certainly contagious by its readers. bravo.

jason jang and christine unten's web site, "altamont festival 1969," is a multimedia exploration into the infamous concert called altamont. the event, held in december 1969 at the altamont raceway park in livermore, california, was a free concert featuring (or, in some cases, was supposed to feature) the jefferson airplane, santana, the grateful dead, and, the headliner, the rolling stones. the crowd was estimated at 300,000; security was supplied by the hell's angels. the concert is now known for what happened when the stones tried to play their song "sympathy for the devil." a concert goer, meredith hunter, an 18 year old african american, was stabbed to death by one of the hell's angels. the stabbing, as well as the general chaos, was captured on film. what jason and christine have done is piece together - through images, sounds, and video - what went down that day. they do a great job slicing and dicing but i would have liked to have read more analysis; i want to know what jason and christine think about the event and the aftermath. a strong project about an event that, for many, signals the end of the 1960s.

e. dylan king created volume 1, issue 1 of a newsletter, women's rights quarterly. it's written from the point of view of a feminist organization that exists in 1970, prior to roe vs. wade. as dylan notes, "i am trying to look at the state of reproductive rights during a period in history when abortion was illlegal to better understand the origins of the pro-choice movement." the newsletter includes a cover story called "decade in review," an article on the national organization for women (NOW) established in 1966, and an article on the national association for repeal of abortion laws (NARAL) estalished in 1969. by highlighting women's everyday realities, especially as they related to reproductive freedoms, readers gain a new understanding (and context) of the reproductive rights movement. the newsletter also includes a brief article on jane, an underground abortion services network based in chicago, and one on the redstockings, a radical feminist organization that organized public speak-outs about abortion in 1969. the newsletter even includes a joan fishbein poem about abortion practices of that era, a book review of betty friedan's feminine mystique (published in 1963), and a 1965 national opinion poll about abortion. dylan's sources are superb: newspaper articles and web sites, but mostly books, including david cline's creating choice, marlene gerber fried's from abortion to reproductive freedom, lorraine glennon's our times, and rickie solinger's abortion wars. from the project: "now, we must carry on the movement of our sisters in this decade. it is our body. it is our life. it is our time." an exceptional project.

robin l's powerpoint presentation, "the eternal image of JFK," is a historical exploration of president john f. kennedy as well as an examination of the role his image played, and plays, in society. although the powerpoint's timing is way too fast (we need time to read it!), robin integrates original research, a running commentary, and incredible images of JFK, jackie, the kennedy family, and the kennedy kids. key points include the legacy of the kennedy family, JFK's personal life, his youth, and his catholocism. to run a successful campaign, JFK's team, according to robin's research, sort of transformed him from a human being into a commodity, an advertisment - one based, problematically, on youth, diversity, and hope. robin also notes that JFK was one of the first politicians to understand and take advantage of the visual medium of television. combining articles from the washington post and new york times with w. j. rorabaugh's kennedy and the promise of the sixties and herbert parmet's article "the kennedy myth and american politics" from the history teacher, robin presents a multimedia tapestry of JFK - or, to be more precise, the image of JFK. the project also has sections called "the royal family" (which presents the kennedy's as a very young and constantly smiling first family), "the vision" (which highlights JFK's handlers' sophisticated use of visual culture to make political statements), and "the icon" (which include, again, the constant smile of JFK, portraying a sense of confidence). a strong and heavily developed project with an excellent use of multiple forms of media to present a story.

zach landres-schnur created a blog, called stone cold, that explores the gulf of tonkin incident and some connections between johnson's evidence to bomb vietnam and bush's evidence to bomb iraq. the project has a twist - the blog is "written" by clay stone, fictitious grandson of one of the great journalists of the 1960s, i.f. stone. most of zach's resources are from wikipedia or actual tape recordings from that era, and he uses an article from journalism history (j. blissert, "guerrilla journalist: i.f. stone and tonkin") to learn more about i.f. stone. the core of the project is to better understand the gulf of tonkin, if it happened at all, and the ways it was employed to escalate the war with vietnam. the parallels between then and now, vietnam and iraq, are clear and zach - or rather clay - makes it explicit. my main critiques: 1) less wikipedia and more newspaper and academic articles; and 2) using an anti-bush article from the washington times, one of the most conservative newspapers in the US, is questionable and kind of dampens the sharpness. that said, by presenting the project as a blog, zach can now invite comments; by writing as clay stone, he can now increase perspectives and explore new writing styles. a very creative project.

diana lui designed a big (about 3 feet by 3 feet) and beautiful (fusing text, images, and graphs) poster, titled "oppressed voice of the 1960s: a chinese world view," that explored chinese american experiences in 1960s america. actually, chinese american experiences in the 1960s is only one of three parts of this great project. first, diana gets historical and examines the first wave of chinese immigration (in 1847), the legislative racism in the form of the chinese exclusion act of 1882 (and 1892 & 1902), and cultural racism in the form of some very depressing political cartoons from the 19th century. second, diana looks briefly at chinese americans (and asian americans) involvement in the civil rights movements of the 1960s. she argues that they had little role or voice in the march on washington - nor on student movements in general. that said, diana does introduce a group called asian americans for action (AAA), formed in the late 1960s by kazu iijima and min matsuda. diana also mentions a huge student strike that took place on san francisco state university on november 9, 1968; it was organized by african american, asian american, and latino student groups. finally, drawing from a number of academic articles from international migration review (monica boyd's "the changing nature of central and southeast asian immigration to the united states, 1961-1972," 1974; and hiram l. fong's "immigration and naturalization laws: today's need for naturalization law reform," 1971), diana traces some more recent developments within chinese american experiences and highlights both progress and setbacks. well written and well designed, this is a formidable project.

bobby lyon's media slideshow/video, "b lyon's final project," is an outstanding project. the project's general topic is the intersections between sports and race politics within the very heated late 1960s. the show begins with jimi hendrix's scorching cover of bob dylan's "all along the watchtower." through images and headlines from newspapers, bobby establishes the landscape: hightened tensions between african americans and the police/establishment, muhammad ali going to jail for refusing to fight in the vietnam war, two young black runners john carlos and tommie smith, and a developing controversy about the 1968 olympics in mexico city. then the hendrix song fades out and here comes bob marley's "redemption song." the show's second part focuses primarily on the 1968 olympics, on october 16th, the day that tommie smith and john carlos, sprinters for team USA, won medals. on the podium, receiving their medals, they wore no shoes or socks (meant to represent slavery and discrimination), wore black gloves, and had a civil rights pin on. as the national anthem began to play, they bowed their heads and raised their fists in a black power salute. this second sections documents the event and the aftermath: US freaks out, smith and carlos are dropped from the olympic team, and forced to leave mexico city. this part also briefly touches upon a threat from other african american athletes to quit the team, as well as the growing black power movement back in the US. the last sequence includes a single quote, "we're uniting," then a written conclusion noting that in 1968 some mainstream media labeled smith and carlos "black skinned storm troopers" while much of black america thought of them as heroes. provocative and passionate: a perfect project.

susanna martini designed a web site, titled "the disability rights movement from the 1960's to present," which does exactly what its title suggests. but it also does more. susanna combines multiple texts - words, images, timelines, articles, and, especially, video - to trace a movement that has its roots in the 1960s. susanna does many things in this project but there are two in particular that i think are effective and moving. first, she shares the history of edward v. roberts, the first severely disabled student to go - in 1962 - to the university of california at berkeley. through the web site, and especially the video, susanna weaves her own story as a university student with disabilities - a story that is inspired by and builds upon the great work of edward v. roberts. second, susanna provides a visual montage of a protest on the steps of the capital building in 1990. learning from the often political, often cultural public protests (and marches, and sit-ins, and be-ins, and happenings) of the 1960s, members of the group american disabled for accessible public transit, or ADAPT, were taken out of their wheelchairs and essentially crawled up the steps of the capital building. their message, which would be carried through images in newspapers the next day, was simple: equal access for all people. susanna's project is like pixelated hope.

kim mason [group project; see kristin cook, rj31, and kim mason's project above.]

cristopher mccarter's project, "intermedia," is more of an experience than a project: it includes a brief essay and, well, a home-made book. at first glance, chris' project appears to be about allan kaprow, a quintessential 1960s artist, often called the father of happenings, and whose work characterizes the fluid, experimental, and multisensory nature of so much of 1960s art. however, upon further reflection, the project is about two other things. first, chris traces the roots of intermedia, going beyond kaprow and into his main influences: jackson pollock, robert rauschenberg, and john cage. as chris shows convincingly and creatively, from pollock, kaprow learned that art could surround a viewer - confront and assault them. from rauschenberg, kaprow learned much, but especially in his white paintings, where kaprow learned that art can assume a position between artist and viewer. and from cage, and in 4'33", kaprow learned about the ambient sound of space - and of silence. there is so much more to this project, but let's proceed to the second part of the project: the book. chris deliberately chose to present his project as a book because "the internet complicates the sacredness of the learning experience by providing too much potential for learning." the book allows chris to build a narrative - albeit a fragmented, playful, and intermediated narrative ala marshal mcluhan's the medium is the massage, a major influence of chris and his project. but, the book is not just a book: it is a linked book. thus, from the section on rauschenberg, readers can visit trophy II by visiting a link provided in the book; during the section on cage, readers are encourage to play the accompanying cd-rom which is, of course, silent. and in a deliberate attempt to avoid "the electronic word," chris wrote the book using a typewriter. a supremely creative project.

brianna nishikawa's project on the assassination of president john f. kennedy in 1963 develops in interesting ways. first, she explores the assassination by asking how it affected gereral americans. this leads to a discovery of how the assassination seemed to affect americans personally, as if they lost a member of their family. this, in turn, leads to questions of mediation and media saturation: after all, americans living in 1963 were just getting used to television and they saw on their screens the assassination, the funeral, mourning jackie and the kennedy kids. it's difficult to understand 1963 when you're in 2006, so instead brianna created a slideshow of images and words. using digital artifacts gleaned from websites, wikipedia, and articles from the BBC, she constructed the slideshow, then added to it stills from the zapruder footage uploaded to youtube. add to that words and memories of people who were there, and the slideshow is complete. it's hard to take your eyes off when you're watching it. my main critique is the slideshow's pace: we need more time for reflection. a great project.

amy norgaard's fascinating web site, "the native american occupation of alcatraz island 1969-1971," explores a chapter of US history forgotton by most (including myself until i read amy's project). on november 20, 1969, 78 native americans, organized under the title indians of all tribes (IAT), occupied alcatraz island; they stayed there for nineteen months. their goal was two-fold: first, to establish a center for native american studies, an american indian spiritual center, an indian center of ecology, a great indian training school, and an american indian museum; and second, to buy the land, in terms similar to what the US paid natives for their land, which roughly equaled $24 worth of glass beads and red cloth. combining wikipedia entries and newspaper articles with books like ward churchill's agents of repression and academic articles like d. h. langston's "american indian women's activism in the 1960s and 1970s," amy traces a few key members of what was to become the alcatraz red power movement, including: john trudell, who ran the radio broadcast from alcatraz and later was a major mover with the american indian movement (AIM); lanada boyer/means, who before the occupation had become the first native american student admitted to the university of california, berkeley; wilma mankiller, who later became the first female chief of the cherokee nation; and grace thorpe, who in addition to being in charge of the generator, water barge, and ambulance service also handled public relations and publicity and coordinated visits by jane fonda, marlon brando, anthony quinn, and candice bergen. amy's project justification is perfect: "Throughout school I learned about the women's movement, the Black Power movement and the youth movement, but I was interested in learning about what other groups were doing during this time. I realized that I had never heard anything about the Native American, or Red Power movement." a tremendous project - fueled by curiosity.

monique ohanessian's "twiggy" explores the model twiggy's rise to fame in the 1960s and focuses mainly on two things: 1) twiggy's challenge of traditional standards of beauty, gender, and sexuality and 2) twiggy's contribution to the "ideology of thinness." the paper's cover page is a mock magazine cover starring, naturally, a young twiggy and features headlines like "liberation of body image" and "from jean harlow to kate moss: how twiggy bridged the gap." monique's argument is clear. on the one hand, twiggy significantly challenged normal standards of beauty: she was a twig, she often modeled in men's clothing, and she disregarded traditional sensuous images (which, monique suggests, puts her in the same sexual liberation front as the hippies and merry pranksters). most of her evidence for this comes from late 1960s articles in the london times, the daily mail, and the daily sketch. on the other hand, twiggy represents an early stage of what some academics call an ideology of thinness, a particularly gendered trend carried on by models like kate moss, not to mention most of the contestants from american's next top model. here, monique uses an interesting academic article from the journal of consumer research (craig j. thompson, "speaking of fashion: consumers' users of fashion discourses and the appropriation of countervailing cultural meanings"). monique also makes a tentative connection among twiggy, the ideology of thinness, and a diet market (fad diets, pills, fake food, endless fitness, cosmetic surgery) that in 1992 generated more than $8 billion.

sarah purcell and ashley southwell's "sex in the 60s | if it feels good, do it!" is an excellent web site. ashley and sarah are clear in their focus: they want to explore 1960s sexual attitudes and behaviors and want to better understand the influence the pill and sexual education had on such attitudes and behaviors. they begin with an overview of the sexual revolution of the 1960s, noting society's (or, at the very least, the emerging counterculture's) growing interest in and acceptance of public discussion about sensuality and sexuality, experimentation with group living and casual sex, alternatives to heterosexuality, and free love. next, web visitors can take one of two directions: the pill or sex ed. the pill section traces the development of the pill, the ways it fostered more freedom for women, and how conservatives - social and political conservatives, but also religious conservatives - linked non-procreative sex to promiscuity, the loss of morals, and the erosion of the family. the sex education section is excellent and notes that it was during the 1960s that sex education began in some american classes. however, while the rest of american society was experimenting heavily with new sexual attitudes and behaviors, sex education in the 1960s, as sarah and ashley show us, was hung up in traditional - and sexist - values. without my prodding, ashley and sarah found the prelinger archives and did first-rate research with primary sources. their findings are multiple but here are two: first, while 1960s-era sex education for boys treats sexuality as more normal, sex education for girls all but ignores sex and instead mentions - no joke - weddings, brides, and beautiful dresses! second, one of the films linked sex between unmarried people to perversion and pornography which was, naturally, linked to communist conspiracies! the coolest thing about this project is that before this class, neither ashley nor sarah had ever designed a web site. this project rocks.

jaime ramsay's "the historical journal of berkeley students: then and now" is powerful and successful. it's also extremely creative. jaime's focus is clear: what kinds of activities went down at the university of california, berkeley during the 1960s? and why did it happen then and there? she also asks, to a lesser degree, what is happening there now? what jaime has created is a scrapbook, a diary of sorts - a pre-blog journal "written" by a berkeley student. the journal includes over 25 articles, all from the new york times, published primarily between 1963-1965. (my only significant critique: why not include more local papers?) the journal also includes photographs of the time: images of free speech rallies packed with hundreds of students, images of very nervous university administrators, images of cops bashing students' skulls. the journal also includes annotation in the form of notes handwritten between the images, in the articles, along the margins. taken together, the articles, images, and annotations weave a story that grows very quickly - within literally months, the free speech movement at berkeley was, in many ways, the epicenter of a social movement that was about to spread across the country. along the way, jaime is able to make really interesting comments about the politics of universities, the great thrill of free speech, and what social movements require. more than anything, she is able to sort of replicate the whirlwind that was berkeley in the 1960s, something we talked about in class - and something that lives on now in the form of a journal of berkeley student. a tremendous project.

kathryn robertson's "what's going on, hollywood? variety examines the problems in california's goldmine" is a paper + a print-based, 1968 issue of variety, the magazine for the film industry. kathryn is trying to highlight and better understand the many problems facing the hollywood film industry in the 1960s. her sources are a combination of a few choice 1960s-era articles from the new york times and a number of books, including john izod's hollywood and the box office, 1895-1986 and david e. james' allegories of cinema: american film in the sixties. taking on the voice of a variety journalist concerned about the well-being of the film industry, kathryn traces the many challenges facing hollywood: the ever-increasing popularity of television, color tv in 1965, and increasing outsourcing. i'd like to have heard more about the film industry's reaction to these threats, especially, as kathryn mentions briefly, their direction towards more mature themes and deeper issues. kathryn's project reminds us that the cultural and social developments of the 1960s profoundly affected a spectrum of industries, many of which enjoyed their height of popularity only a generation earlier. smart and creative project.

ketreona say wrote an excellent paper and mixed a griping cd about the legend nina simone. in particular, kat focuses on early 1960s-era issues of race, gender, and national identity, and how simone uses her songs to examine such issues. kat begins with a brief history of simone, with special attention paid to her political views, via articles written in the 60s and published in magazines like ebony, sepia, and down beat. she also draws from an academic article from the journal of american history (ruth felstein, "'i don't trust you anymore': nina simone, culture, and black activism in the 1960s"). then, she gets to the heart of her project: a nina simone song called "mississippi goddamn." simone wrote the song, in 1963, the day she learned of a bombing of a black church in alabama, which killed four young black girls. focusing on the lyrics, kat draws out simone's perspectives on race and gender in 1960s america, as well as the tensions between radical action and peaceful compromise. and in a wonderful twist, kat also examines a particular version of the song, one sung live at new york's prestigous carnegie hall - to an audience primarily comprised of white people. as ketreona weaves together the song and the audience, it's impossible not to smile and nod when simone introduces the song with "the name of this tune is mississippi goddamn, and i mean every word of it." an inspired project.

ashley southwell [group project: see sarah purcell and ashley southwell above.]

christine unten [group project: see jason jang and christine unten above.]

neil r. waite's project on the film the graduate is most likely the most ambitious and creative class project i have ever received. there's a lot to this project but essentially neil has created the experience one gets with dvds. i push play on the dvd player and the film plays and i push play on media player and neil's commentary about the film plays. he focuses on four main sequences. the project also includes a statement of purpose, various promotional materials for the film, reviews from the time of its release (1967), some song files (more on that below), and a bibliography that includes books like: peter biskind's easy riders, raging bulls; j hoberman's the dream life: movies, media, and the mythology of the sixties; pauline kael's going steady; glenn man's radical visions: american film renaissance, 1967-1976; john l. mason's the identity crisis theme in american feature films, 1960-1969; and pauline reay's music in film: soundtracks and synergy. this is a massively researched project. neil's commentaries for the four sequences form the heart of the project. his commentary of chapter 3, the scene in which mrs robinson seduces ben, includes analyses of light and dark, discusses the scene's allusion to hitchcock's psycho, introduces the notion of diegetically incorporated music, and performs a gender analysis of power between the older woman vs the younger man. neil's commentary of chapter 8, a montage sequence that establishes simon and garfunkel's song "the sound of silence" as ben's theme song, includes an excellent analysis of alienation - alienation from others, alienation from his next future move, alienation from the suburban hell of his parents. he also includes a smart analysis of the growing (and socially alienating) role of color tv within american society. watching the graduate with the film's volume down and neil's commentary up generates an entirely new viewing experience. but watching is only one element of this project; neil constantly returns to the role of sound and music, especially the work of simon and garfunkel. near the end, he points out that the song "mrs robinson" was covered by frank sinatra (not to mention by the lemonheads, with whom neil then connects to the more recent film american pie) who eliminated the song's original references to jesus and god and added lyrics that said to mrs robinson "you'll get yours" - thereby adding a misogynist tone that didn't exist in the original. a completely inspired project.

9 Comments:

At 6/13/2006 12:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A question for Neil Waite: What is diegetically incorporated music?

 
At 6/14/2006 5:52 PM, Anonymous Neil said...

Hey, this is Neil. Diegetically incorporated music is music that takes place within the context of the film, such as a song playing on the radio, the sound of breathing or footsteps. Exegetic sound is anything outside the "world of the film" such as the score/soundtrack or dubbed in sound effects. Thanks for the interest!

 
At 6/14/2006 7:00 PM, Blogger sarah said...

i wondered what that word meant, and couldn't find a definition on the web, yet it appeared in articles about film. very cool new word to add to my vocabulary! thanks for clearing that up, neil.

 
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