Unit 3: Writing in the Humanities
For our third unit, students will compose an original literary analysis of a short story of their choosing and then present that analysis in the form of a digital video essay. This video essay will present an argument in support for their own unique interpretation of a short piece of literary fiction using images, video, graphics, sound, and voice-over narration that is effective and engaging to a broad audience.
In order to produce this video essay, students will adopt the role of a literary scholar interested in short literary fiction as well as the public humanities. This means that one of their goals as a scholar is to engage non-academic and/or non-expert audiences. They will read and analyze a short story of their choosing, compose a traditional literary analysis of their selected text, and then translate that analysis into a script that will serve as the voice-over for their video essay. Students will then produce their video essay using a variety of media, ultimately publishing it online in order to engage the public with their selected text.
In this final unit of the semester, students have the option of including secondary research into their work, but the priority is on their primary research, their individual interrogation of a short fictional literary text of their choosing. This requires them to develop detailed and complex thesis statements in which they move from asking questions to forming their own unique argument, supported by claims and sub-claims.
Using the medium of digital essays forces students to “translate” their traditional essays across modes and media to make them more engaging for a broader audience, encouraging an engagement with public scholarship while also allowing us to explore issues surrounding digital literacy, visual literacy, and multimedia composition. To aid us in these attempts, we will visit the Media Resources Center (MRC) at UNC-Chapel Hill so an expert can help students become more comfortable with software for capturing and editing digital audio/video media for the purposes of presenting their own unique claims to a public audience.
And of course, be sure to explore the students’ completed video essays. In the drop-down menu for “Categories,” choose “Humanities: Literary Analysis Video Essays” to access their video essays, accompanied by transcripts, or you can just click here.
NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, this course, as of March 2020, has transitioned to a course taught online. For this reason, we will not be physically visiting the Media Resources Center on campus. Instead, students will study the MRC’s various online resources, handouts, and guides to assist them with software for capturing and editing digital audio/video media for the purposes of presenting their own unique claims to a public audience. Ideally, this process will still allow them to think deeply about multimedia/multimodal composition for public audiences while allowing us to maintain the practice of social distancing for everyone’s safety. —Paul Blom