Homework Assignments

The homework ensures interactive, engaged discussions during each class period, as well as regular participation in and preparation for the course throughout the term. One of four assignments will be due almost every week:

 1. Composing a Discussion Question for your peers about the weekly Hitchcock film (DqH);

 2. Composing a Discussion Question for your peers about the weekly Freud readings (DqF);

 3. Writing a Critical Response analyzing the weekly Hitchcock film, drawing on at least one passage from the weekly Freud reading and another passage from the weekly criticism (RsH)

 4. Writing a Critical Response analyzing the weekly Freud reading, first explicating in depth one of his arguments and then taking a critical position towards it (RsF);

 5. (Graduate students only) Selecting a Quotation (QT) from the weekly optional reading to share with your peers who may be unfamiliar with the materials during class time.

You will cycle though these assignments twice over the span of the term, doing each in turn but starting with a different one depending on your group number. The Groups handout (/groups.htm) specifies your group number and provides an easy way to contact your fellow group members. The Schedule (/scd.htm) indicates the assignments that your group will be doing week by week.

Important Technicalities:

* Submit all homework, including the critical responses, to the course homepage on my.emich by the midnight before class meets, and be prepared to discuss them with your peers during the class itself (bring hard copies for reference).

* Group members must focus on distinct topics when doing the discussion questions, so check those already posted on my.emich before you post your own. You can also contact group members via the convenient link on the Groups handout to ensure that you focus on different issues (/groups.htm).


I. Discussion Questions (DQf & DQt)

A discussion question is essentially a thesis statement in reverse: a provocative, pertinent line of inquiry challenging your peers to interpret the text or film in a more nuanced fashion than they would when contemplating it for the first time in isolation. Since you yourself will not have to answer this question, composing it should encourage you to think against the grain, challenge unexamined assumptions, and test the boundaries of conventional thought.

Once you have a question in mind (or a series of interrelated questions), put yourself in the shoes of those who will ultimately contemplate it in class: might your peers have too little background to answer it? does it refer to texts not covered in class and thus unfamiliar to most? is it too narrow or broad in scope to provoke substantive discussion? is it too little evocative or polemic to incite curiosity or debate?

Consider including brief quotations, defining obscure terms, or specifying page numbers for clarity and context. However, make sure that you do not answer the question in the very asking of it—the various issues need to remain open ended to prompt lively discussion in class. Drawing connections between the materials required for the week and materials from earlier weeks would also be great, but make sure that those who have not done the optional reading or have not seen the optional films can still make sense of the question.

II. Critical Response (RsH & RsF)

Responses are informal written reactions to the filmic and/or theoretical materials. All responses must be 400-600 words (for undergraduates) or 550-700 words (for graduates), and posted at course homepage on my.emich by the midnight before class meets.

** If you are doing the Hitchcock Response (RSh), you will need to directly quote and draw on at least one passage from the weekly Freud reading, however brief, and another passage from the weekly criticism in analyzing the Hitchcock film covered for the week. It helps to foreground specific formal, cultural, psychological, or thematic aspects of the film rather talking of the film as a whole vaguely. (Plot summary is unnecessary and will not count towards a response proper, so use details from the plot sparingly and only to support critical ideas of your own.) Fell free to make connections between the film and the other materials in class (other Hitchcock films, the Freud readings, the background or optional readings), but make sure your primary focus is on the weekly film.  It would be helpful to take notes and perhaps make a table to fill out while watching the film, tracking the various qualities most of interest to you and afterwards elaborating on the most promising of those topics in your response.

** If you are doing the Freud Response (RSt), you will need to apply specific concepts from the weekly Freud reading—and directly incorporate at least two quotations—in your response. Endeavor to discuss the theory both accurately and critically, clearly explaining Freud’s own position and your critical stance with regards to it. Do you agree, disagree, agree in part? Are the claims too general or might they have other applications that Freud does not mention?  How do some of his claims relate to or perhaps conflict with others? It helps to begin by pinpointing the more interesting, important, or provocative claims of the Freud with which you want to engage and then explicating those claims clearly in your own words before evaluating them or establishing a position of your own. Challenge yourself to uncover the least straightforward connections between the ideas that Freud advances since unforeseen juxtapositions often inspire excellent topics for the research paper.

Ideally, responses will introduce an innovative line of argumentation unique to yourself, though of course not necessarily coherent, polished, or fully fermented. Responses can be creative and playful if you like, experimenting with modes of thought that you may not otherwise get away with in formal writing. However, since you can rework responses into your research essay at the end of the term, emphasize whenever possible the issues that you may afterwards want to explore in greater depth. Make sure to put quotation marks around the words of other writers to avoid plagiarism (or the appearance thereof), specifying the page numbers from which you extract the passage.


III. Quotation from Outside Reading (QT)

After reading the optional theorist for the week as identified on the Schedule (/sch.htm), select a passage of 3 to 4 lines to share with the class, a passage that you find suggestive, illuminating, debatable, representative, objectionable, or notable in some other fashion. Once you have a quotation in mind, post it to the course homepage on my.emich by the midnight before class meets. You will convey the gist of this passage in your own words to your peers during class time. That way they can encounter, at least by proxy, the optional materials you have read and glean additional concepts to draw upon in their research papers.