At two different points in the semester, we will break into groups based on your interest in a selected range of topics. As a group you will research and prepare a 15 minute presentation that incorporates ideas from the readings and from class discussions, including a hand out that summarizes your main findings and point. Please bring enough of these handouts for everyone in the class. You may also employ some form of multimedia display, from a visual clip to a web site tour, depending on the topic. You will also (each individually) write a two page essay on the topic of your group presentation. [Your grade for each project will be weighted 50% for the presentation and 50% for your individual 2 page paper.]

In researching these projects, you can explore the world of scholarship and primary sources available online. I encourage you, however, to dig deep, to explore the rich resources both at Middlebury College’s special collections and at the Sheldon Museum.

When you present, in addition to your hand out, you must hand in a bibliography (MLA format) with the list of your sources. You should consult and explore 5-10 different sources, depending on the nature of your project. These sources must include both primary and secondary sources. I will consider both the breadth and depth of your research.

Possible Presentation Topics

Presentations Round 1: Early Cinema à Coming of Sound

  • Middlebury Pre-Cinema (Magic Lanterns/Magic Lantern shows/Transition from Theater to Cinema)
  • Evolution of Moviegoing in Middlebury
  • Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater
  • Middlebury’s Screen Queen Contest
  • The Construction of the Audience in Fan Magazines
  • The relationship between vaudeville and early moviegoing
  • Early Movie Serials and Audiences [like The Perils of Pauline]
  • Reception and fandom of a silent/early sound movie star (Rudolph Valentino, Clark Bow, Theda Bara, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Joan Crawford, etc.)

Presentations Round 2: Digital Media

  • as social network, archive, and aesthetic development
  • Community Forums and Interaction at official network sites (you can choose one depending on the interest of your group members)
  • Fantasy Baseball as networked community
  • Fan vids or other forms of fan authorship
  • Twitter as social network [could focus on, for example, the Mad Men Twitter community]
  • Television Without Pity as site of community reception and authorship
  • Youtube as site of community reception and authorship
  • SecondLife as site of community reception, authorship, and audience
  • Multiplayer Online Video Gameplay

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