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CAS 438 - Rhetoric of Documentary

What do virtual reality, video games, and crowdsourcing have to do with documentary and civic life?

Over the last decade, major changes in the forms of documentaries, their funding structure, and their distribution platforms have led some scholars to argue that we have entered a “post-documentary era” defined by the docutainment of reality-television. Others consider the immersive possibilities of digital documentary platforms to be essential to the future of civic life. As a class devoted to the rhetoric of documentary, our focus will be to consider how the emerging forms of digital documentary build from the tradition of documentary filmmaking to frame issues, engage audiences, and incite action.

Professor: Anne Demo
Office: 219 Sparks Building
Phone: (814) 865-6255
Email:  

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this class, students will be able to …

  1. Identify rhetorical concepts underpinning the study of documentary and employ these concepts in a sustained analysis of a particular project;
  2. Identify key ethical demands shaping documentary work and assess specific projects in light of rapidly changing modes of distribution and their global reach;
  3. Identify different documentary genres and distribution platforms and assess their relative strengths and limitations for advocacy;
  4. Compse a conceptually grounded and well-reasoned analysis of documentaries and identify the challenges of translating content into visual/digital formats.

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