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C LIT 240 F: Writing In Comparative Literature

Meeting Time: 
TTh 4:30pm - 6:20pm
SAV 156
Qian He

Syllabus Description:


Who is watching us?

This is a question that haunts our daily life as it is produced across time, space, and cultures, particularly across the genres of visual practice: graphic art, theatre, photography, cinema, television, surveillance, etc. In terms of “who”, you might think of the audience off the stage, the neighbors, or a crowd of bystanders; the security camera, google, Big Brother, or private detective or any kind of “spy”; moral witnesses, the phantom public, the mirror, God, history, the alien…..and even yourself/ourselves. Then why does it matter to think about who is watching us? How would we present and project ourselves if we may or may not know that we are being watched? Who is watching, who is being watched, and how are the two interrelated? Considering cinema as a parameter and as method, this course is designed to help you become a strong writer who can construct critically and deliver effectively in particular writing contexts by approaching and exploring such questions.

In this course, we will learn to explore, execute, utilize, and also reflect on the interrelated power of both written and visual language through the medium of film analysis. This course covers a multitude of both historical and contemporary cultural artifacts including fiction films such as The Truman Show and Cache; documentaries and the avant-garde such as Yunbogi’s Diary and Screen Tests; animated films such as Good Vibrations and I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors; TV series and shows like Black Mirror and What Would You Do; mockumentaries and other forms of video art such as Whose Eyes and Look. We will also take a critical look at our cinematic experiences in relation to a kaleidoscope of film stills, paratexts, iconic images, or collages that fleetingly cross people’s perception and memory in the everyday life. These different “texts” around cinema and moviegoing will serve as an immersive setting for your writing adventure as well as function as a toolbox of living archives with which your writing will deal and interact.


FILMS/TV Series:

Clips from The Children are Watching Us 1944 by Vittorio De Sica (Italy, 90 min)

Screen Tests 1964-66 (selections) by Andy Warhol (USA, TBD)

Yunbogi’s Diary 1965 by Nagisa Oshima (Japan, 24 min)

Ten Minutes Older(The Salt Bread) 1978 by Herz Frank (Soviet Union, 10 min)

Clips from Shirin 2008 by Abbas Kiarostami (Iran, 91 min)

The Truman Show 1998 by Peter Weir (USA, 103 min)

Ivan´s See-Saw 2002 by Darío Stegmayer (Argentina, 18 min)

Caché (Hidden Camera) 2005 by Michael Haneke (France, 118 min)

Look 2007 by Adam Rifkin (USA, 38 min)

Chacun Son Cinema (To Each His Own Cinema) 2007 by 35 directors (all the world)

Good Vibrations 2009 by Jeremy Clapin (USA, 4 min)

The Mirror 2010 by Laurent Fauchere and Antoine Tinguely (Switzerland, 5 min)

I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors 2010 by Bernice Eisenstein (Canada, 15 min)

Whose Eyes 2011 by Tan Tan (China, 16 min)

White Bear (Black Mirror Season II E2) 2013 by Carl Tibbetts (UK, 50 min)

One episode from What Would You Do? (ABC News series)

A couple of video essays

and one film that you would like to suggest for the class.


Kuhn, Annette. “The Little Girl Wants to be heard” in Family Secrets: Acts of Memory and Imagination. New ed. London; New York: Verso, 2002, 25-46.

Calvino, Italo. “The Movies of My Youth”, adapted from “A Spectator’s Autobiography,” in Federico Fellini: Making a Film, translated by Christopher Burton White, published by Contra Mundum Press, 2006.

Knight, Arthur, Pafort-Overduin, Clara, and Verhoeven, Deb. "Senses of Cinema-Going: Brief Reports on Going to the Movies around the World," Senses of Cinema: An Online Film Journal Devoted to the Serious and Eclectic Discussion of Cinema 58 (2011): Senses of Cinema: An Online Film Journal Devoted to the Serious and Eclectic Discussion of Cinema, 2011, Vol.58.

Gocsik, Karen M., Barsam, Richard Meran, and Monahan, Dave. Writing about Movies. Fourth ed. New York; London: W. W. Norton &, 2016.



To achieve our main goal, we will focus on the following objectives:

  • Developing Rhetorical Awareness: to understand when we write in a certain way and be able to transfer that knowledge to new or different writing contexts
  • Working with research: to utilize a variety of strategies for analyzing (filmic/visual) texts and using those texts as generative parts of inquiry
  • Formulating Effective Claims: to develop well-supported arguments of intellectual depth that can contribute to an academic conversation
  • Targeting Revision: to view writing as a process where we constantly reflect on the effectiveness of our rhetorical choices and continually make changes to better our writing




In this course, you will complete three major assignment sequences, each of which is designed to help you fulfill the course outcomes. Each assignment sequence requires you to complete a variety of shorter homework leading up to a major paper/project. These shorter assignments will each target one or more of the course outcomes at a time, help you practice these outcomes, and allow you to build toward a major paper at the end of each sequence. You will have a chance to revise significantly each of the major papers using feedback generated by instructor, peer review sessions, and writing conferences. Toward the end of the course, having completed the three sequences, you will be asked to compile and submit a collection of your work along with a short cover letter (as your critical reflection). First, before turning in your final collection, you have to be sure that

  • You complete all original assignments: three major papers/projects (one film project proposal, one scene analysis, one self-ethnography of moviegoing or video essay) and eight short assignments (such as Canvas posts, free writes, one-page response, creative annotated bibliography, etc). (Note: only major assignments will be graded after your original submission each time and re-graded after your revision and final submission; short assignments will be given feedback either by me or your peers each time and will NOT be graded until your final submission)

Then, your final collection needs to include the following:

  • three revised major papers/projects (75 points), three of the eight short assignments (15 points), and a critical reflection (10 points) that explains how the selection demonstrates the four outcomes for the course.


  • two of the three revised major papers/projects (50 points), all eight short assignments (40 points), and a critical reflection (10 points) that explains how the selection demonstrates the four outcomes for the course.


Throughout the quarter, your papers will receive feedback to help you identify what you are doing well and what you need to improve. The following evaluation rubric will be used as part of my feedback:

  • Outstanding: Offers a very highly proficient, even memorable demonstration of the trait(s) associated with the course outcome(s), including some appropriate risk-taking and/or creativity.
  • Strong: Offers a proficient demonstration of the trait(s) associated with the course outcome(s), which could be further enhanced with revision.
  • Good: Effectively demonstrates the trait(s) associate with the course outcome(s), but less proficiently; could use revision to demonstrate more skillful and nuanced command of trait(s).
  • Acceptable: Minimally meets the basic outcome(s) requirement, but the demonstrated trait(s) are not fully realized or well-controlled and would benefit from significant revision.
  • Inadequate: Does not meet the outcome(s) requirement; the trait(s) are not adequately demonstrated and require substantial revision on multiple levels.


Your participation in this course will be a necessary element to the success of the class. You may go to any of the writing centers as “extra credit” to help your participation grade. I will count up to two visits, and you must write a one-page reflection of how the experience helped you (submit on canvas). We will be discussing your participation grade throughout the quarter, so that your participation grade is no surprise to you at the end of the quarter.

5% Conference: You will meet with me individually once this quarter (see syllabus for when they are scheduled). These conferences give you the opportunity to get feedback about your papers/projects and to express any concerns, questions, or suggestions you might have about the course or the assignments. I will provide you with a sign-up sheet for the conference with detailed instructions about how to prepare for it.

10% In-Class Discussion and Presentation/Proposal Session: Your willingness to contribute to class discussions by making comments, asking questions, and your engagement in presentations, group work and peer workshops.

5% Preparation for Class and Meeting Deadlines: Your overall preparedness in completing all reading and writing assignments on time, and the timeliness of your papers. Remember that class discussions, presentations, free writes, and peer-review sessions cannot be made up if you miss class.


All assignments are due (using Canvas) on the time and date specified (usually 11:59 pm), and I will not accept any assignments submitted in any other way unless given approval ahead of time. Unless you have spoken with me ahead of time, late work is due by the next class meeting and you will lose participation points. However, you will still need to complete late work, as your final collection must include all assignments in order for it to receive a passing grade. As with attendance, turning in late work will affect your participation grade. If you are having trouble and may be unable to turn things in on time, speak with me before the assignment is due (this does not mean the day that it is due). If you have a very good reason, I may be nice when it comes to the participation grade.



  • Please come to class prepared to participate in the activities for the day. You can keep up with the course schedule by referring to the course calendar (attached). The course calendar is subject to change. I will email the class email list after class each day with an overview of what we discussed in class and what is for homework.
  • To each class, please bring: your textbook, a notebook (or something to take notes in), and your homework (when it is assigned). I will assume that everyone has done the assigned reading/films before class begins. Those students that do not keep up with the reading/films might see that reflected in their participation grade.
  • Handouts: I will be printing and distributing various handouts throughout the course. In the unlikely event that you miss a class, it is your responsibility to get a copy of the handout(s) from one of your peers or from the course website.


  • The more you engage in this academic community, the more you will learn. As with class attendance, it is important for you to participate in class discussions as thoroughly as possible; we want our time to be productive. Even if you have a hard time participating in discussion, for whatever reason, I ask that you give it your best shot. Participation in classroom discussion will be part of your participation grade, and we will discuss your participation grade in conferences so there are no surprises.
  • Respect: Because the exchange of ideas is so important to this class, it is necessary for everyone to be respectful of one another. Differences can be discussed, but not fought over. Derogatory or discourteous language is never necessary in any situation.


  • You will be expected to set your cell phone to silent before class begins (NOT vibrate).
  • Please don’t text during class. It is extremely disrespectful for your peers.
  • A similar policy applies to laptops. If you use your laptop to take notes during class, actually use it to take notes during class. Please don’t e-mail during class, don’t check Facebook, and don’t do work for your other classes during this one.



In the highly unlikely event that I would ever have to cancel a class, I would let you know by 9:00 am the day of class. However, if I am ill or have an emergency, it is most likely that you would simply have a substitute that day. If for some reason (also highly unlikely) that I am not present when class begins, please wait for twenty minutes (4:50 pm) before leaving.


If you need accommodation of any sort, please let me know so that I can work with the UW Disability Resources for Students Office (DRS) to provide what you require. This syllabus is available in large print, as are other class materials. More information about accommodation may be found at


UW Counseling Center workshops include a wide range of issues including study skills, thinking about coming out, international students and culture shock, and much more. Check out available resources and workshops at:


The University of Washington Q Center builds and facilitates queer (gay, lesbian, bisexual, two-spirit, trans, intersex, questioning, same-gender-loving, allies) academic and social community through education, advocacy, and support services to achieve a socially-just campus in which all people are valued. For more information, visit


Foundation for International Understanding through Students: FIUTS is an example of a campus organization that can bring together your social and academic learning. "FIUTS is an independent non-profit organization which provides cross-cultural leadership and social programming for UW's international and globally minded domestic students. FIUTS is local connections and global community!" FIUTS also offers a free international lunch on the last Wednesday of every month beginning with a lunch on September 28 from 11:30-1:30 in the Kane Hall Walker-Ames room. Consult FIUTS' web site for a detailed calendar of events and links to many resources


There are two particularly fantastic writing resources for you here on campus at UW. Both are free of charge, and I would very strongly encourage you to take advantage of these resources. The Odegaard Writing and Research Center allows you to schedule 45-minute tutoring sessions in which to talk about your writing or specific writing assignments for any class. You may book these on-line at: (and I would suggest booking early, as they tend to fill up quickly!) The CLUE Writing Center is located in Mary Gates Hall, and offers late-night drop-in tutoring. You can get all the details here:


Plagiarism, or academic dishonesty, is presenting someone else's ideas or writing as your own. In your writing for this class, you are encouraged to refer to other people's thoughts and writing--as long as you cite them. As a matter of policy, any student found to have plagiarized any piece of writing in this class will be immediately reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review.


Preventing violence is everyone's responsibility. If you're concerned, tell someone.

  • Always call 911 if you or others may be in danger.
  • Call 206-685-SAFE (7233) to report non-urgent threats of violence and for referrals to UW counseling and/or safety resources. TTY or VP callers, please call through your preferred relay service.
  • Don't walk alone. Campus safety guards can walk with you on campus after dark. Call Husky NightWalk 206-685-WALK (9255).
  • Stay connected in an emergency with UW Alert. Register your mobile number to receive instant notification of campus emergencies via text and voice messaging. Sign up online at For more information visit the SafeCampus website at
Catalog Description: 
Comparative approach to literature and a workshop in writing comparative papers in English. Emphasis on cross-cultural comparison of literary works. Readings in English with an option to read selected texts in the original languages Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements Met: 
English Composition (C)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
November 11, 2016 - 9:11pm