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Skidmore College
MDOCs title

Documentary Studies - Spring 2021 Courses


DS 351D - Multimedia Archival Storytelling (4 cr) *NEW!

DS 351A - Monuments for Saratoga Black History *NEW!

DS 251B - Intro to Documentary Studies (2 cr)

DS 351B - Explorations in Doc Photography (3 cr)

DS 251D - Documentary Film Editing (4 cr)

DS 351D - Doc Film Prod: Form/Content (4 cr)

DS 351B - Storytellers' Institute Prep (2 cr)

AS 351C - Pandemic Bardo II (3 cr)

NOTE:  All courses listed as DS count towards Skidmore College's Media and Film Studies Minor

Course Descriptions

DS 351D - Multimedia Archival Storytelling *NEW!
Jocelyn Arem
M/W, 3:30-5:20pm, (4 cr)

Learn how to creatively reimagine archival content to educate and inspire! Working hands-on with a multimedia collection (including images, audio, video, and text), students will develop a deep understanding of multimedia curatorial practice, identify story ideas, learn about the legal and ethical considerations of collections-based production work, and utilize emergent multimedia technological platforms (podcasts, video, social media) to bring archives to life in today’s contemporary cultural climate and engage new audiences in innovative ways. As a collective, we’ll explore the powerful intersection of art, archives, (including oral history) culture, politics, technology and documentary practice. By the end of the semester, students will present their unique multimedia storytelling projects drawn from the collection.

DS 351A - Design Lab: Monuments for Saratoga Black History *NEW!
Daesha Devón Harris
Week-long intensive

Led by renowned photographer, activist, and Saratoga native, Daesha Devón Harris, this one-week winter intensive brings together Skidmore students and Saratoga community members to reflect on our city’s commemorative landscape, and begin a process of addressing its troubling silencing of Black histories. Engaging with our moment’s intense dialogue around public monuments, we will meet daily for study, reflection, and imagining: how should Black history be memorialized here and now?

DS 251B - Introduction to Documentary Studies
Sarah Friedland
Tue, 4:30-6:20pm, (2 cr)

History and Practice This course introduces students to the historical, theoretical, practical, and ethical traditions of creative non-fiction storytelling. Through a variety of mediums –– photography, sound, performance, film, etc. –– we will study how makers and scholars have approached the representation of reality on a global level. We will: interrogate extractive and colonialist practices in documentary; think about the ever blurring line between fact and fiction; and consider personal, collaborative and collective methodologies of storytelling. 

DS 251C - Explorations in Documentary Photography
Emily Vallee
Tu/Th, 2:50-4:10pm, (3 cr)

This course will introduce students to the practice of documentary photography. The history, theory and politics of non-fiction storytelling will be examined and discussed through readings, lectures, the work of past and present photographers and class field trips. Students will experiment with a variety of different documentary styles and begin to develop their own personal documentary practice. By the end of the semester, students will produce a coherent documentary body of work, considering both the use of imagery and text. In addition, students will also learn to question how the contemporary documentary photograph can often create alternative ways of seeing, recording and understanding events that shape the world in which we live.

DS 251D - Documentary Film Editing
Nicole Van Slyke
M/W, 4-5:50pm, (4 cr)

In many ways, documentary stories aren’t so much written as discovered. Our world is already full of stories waiting to be told, but what makes a story worth telling, and how one should tell it, are two of the most crucial questions any documentarian must answer. From initial concept through to the final edit, this course will ask students to grapple with this process of documentary discovery, in order to develop a robust set of practices from which to tell the stories of the world around us. Major topics include: • How to develop, nurture and test a story idea: when to know it has ‘legs’ • The value of Loglines, Treatments and Pitches for conceptualizing story • Form and Methodology: is this story best told as a short? Podcast? Feature? Interactive project? Does it require archival research? Interviews? • How to ethically obtain access to a story • Finding the story in the footage—the importance of the editing room This course requires no pre-existing knowledge or experience of documentary practice or technical expertise, and will be of interest to anyone curious about telling documentary stories in a multitude of forms. Students will work with an archive of previously shot footage to craft a short documentary film, learning basic editing techniques with Adobe Premiere.

DS 351D - Documentary Film Production: Form and Content
Sarah Friedland
Tu/Th, 9:10-11am, (4 cr)

An introduction to the tools, skills and practices used in documentary film production. Through the frameworks of documentary aesthetics and ethics, students will learn about style and craft in non-fiction film and apply this knowledge to their own documentary production work. Over the course of the semester, students will work in groups and individually to create multiple short documentary films in varying styles. All skill levels are welcome. Central to this course is the close observation and understanding of the world around us. Students will learn how to be respectful and acute observers in order to focus their lenses on the immediate and personal stories surrounding them.

DS 351B - Storytellers' Institute Prep
Sarah Friedland
Th, 4:30-6:20pm, (2 cr)

For students accepted to summer 2019 Storytellers' Institute. This course will give students the tools they need to prepare for a successful June fellowship. Time will be divided between: preparation of projects, skill-building,introduction to the annual theme, and programming the student festival component to the annual Storytellers' Institute Festival Symposium.By permission of the instructor only. By permission of the instructors only.

AS 351C - Pandemic Bardo
Ben Bogin, Adam Tinkle, Tom Yoshikami
Tu/Th, 11:30am-12:50pm

Students in this course will contribute to the creation and production of an original six-episode podcast that explores the COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of the Tibetan Buddhist concept of the bardo. Through remote online instruction and collaboration, students will study the philosophical, ritual, literary, and artistic expressions of the classical bardo tradition and explore the strange history of its interpretation in the United States. Students will also develop skills in engaging in critical dialogue and discussion in online settings, digital audio editing and production, collaborative design and social media publishing. Note: This course fulfills the all-college Non-Western Cultures and Humanities requirements. Permission of the instructors is required.

DS 399 - MDOCS Internship Credit
Please write to Director Adam Tinkle for more information
1-4 credits