Final Paper/Project Requirements: Spring 2017


PROPOSALS: Please write a short three to five sentence proposal for your final paper/project that addresses one of the theories or topics explored in class. The research topic of the paper/project is up to the student but it should include well-chosen examples to illustrate or explicate the theory or topic under examination. You must include the working title and research topic of your paper/project as well as a brief explanation of the specific theoretical approach (or theorist) that you will be examining. If you are interested in doing a project, you must also describe what a viewer will see and hear as they watch.

Please post your proposal as a comment to this blog post no later than Tuesday April 4, 2017 at 5PM. If you are doing a project and it is a group project, all members must be listed in the proposal.

FINAL PAPER: Papers must be 8-10 pages in length (12 pt. Times New Roman font) + works cited page (which does not contribute to page count). Papers must adhere to MLA style. Failure to follow the conventions of scholarly writing will result in an automatic half grade reduction. Please review the policies on late papers and issues of academic integrity as specified on the course syllabus.

Strive for a coherent argument based on evidence derived from books, articles, films, television programs, new media, and course material (discussions and lectures). Be sure to highlight the theory that you are using in your paper so as to draw clear links between theory and evidence for your argument. You must include a list of works cited. Papers must be double spaced with author, title, and course listed clearly on the first page. Pagination of your paper is required. Follow MLA style.

FINAL PROJECT: Project formats must be approved by the instructor (videos or comics are preferred mediums for the instructor). Projects should be of sufficient scale that it replicates the amount of work and effort that would go into producing an 8-10 page research paper (see me if needed for more explanation of this point). Projects must be posted to YouTube, Vimeo, or Google Drive. The URL of the project should be included with the write up described below (and as a link within the body of the email). Projects may be documentary, animation, experimental, narrative, and such, but they must be based on original research.

In addition, students who submit projects as their final are required to also submit a 3 page (12 pt. Times or Helvetica font) explanation and analysis of their project. The write up must situate the project in relation to ideas and media that we have discussed throughout the semester.

FINAL PRESENTATIONS: Each student will present a short summation of their paper on May 16, 2017. Presentations will be no longer than 10 minutes including time for a very short question and answer session with classmates. Your presentation is the oral and/or visual aspect of your final paper. The bottom line is that you must provide your audience with what they need to know to understand your research. Images and clips included in your presentation should be short and selected for maximum impact. You will be randomly given a time slot in which to present, but it will be on the date listed above.

Due date/Time for final papers and projects:

Submitted via email ( as a PDF attachment [labeled with “yourlastname.pdf”] no later than May 23, 2017 at 6:00 PM (pacific daylight time).


Stewart Vertigo Hitchcock

Syllabus Revisions

I’ve tweaked the syllabus a bit. I’ve cut a couple of readings and added a couple of others. Bavelier and Green discussing neuroplasticity and videogames has been added as has been a short summary article covering a revival of sorts for Freud in “neuropsychoanalysis.” I’ve cut Malabou and another article. Malabou is a very difficult writer and I would rather that you spend your time reading Philip K. Dick’s Ubik. Check out the new links on the “Documents” page under the menu above. Also, download the new syllabus. Here’s a link:

Comm 163v S17rev



Phantasy v. Fantasy in Toy Story 3

A student asked me to clarify what I was thinking when I screened the ending of Toy Story 3 last night. Why is Andy’s play with Bonnie not simply fantasy, but rather phantasy in Klein and Isaac’s sense of that term?

My response. Brief, but hopefully it might provide insight into how I’m viewing the Toy Story finale.

Phantasy for Andy is the way in which he projects onto the toys an inner life which the film mirrors by the conceit of the toys’ actual lives when humans aren’t around. So that last burst of play with Bonnie is his relinquishing the phantasy which guided him through his fractured, yet better than good enough, family life as a boy – through the help of the toys. The final goodbyes between Andy and Woody signal his final transition from youth to adulthood and the transition for the toys to a newly reinvigorated phantasy world that Bonnie will provide for them. They are parental objects for both Andy and Bonnie. Even the mom stepping out at the end and inviting Bonnie inside for lunch indicates how the real intervenes in phantasy – the psychic reality of Bonnie in this case. Psychic reality engages with the world and thus has real world consequences.

Fantasy is simply day dreaming and confabulation which, while important, isn’t given the motive force of desire – life. I think that the final scene catches, with considerable eloquence, the bittersweet essence of growing up and leaving aside one’s transitional objects.


Midterm Exam Spring 2017

Write a 5 page essay discussing media and ideas that you’ve encountered during the first half of the semester. Your midterm essay should be an expository paper using some of the clips listed on the syllabus (or additional clips from your personal viewing which address topics from the course). Be sure to use specific ideas from the readings (listed on the syllabus and in the short review list appended below), screenings, and class discussions (from our specific course) to support your argument. You must cite any books or articles that you use in your essay and you need to follow MLA style for manuscript mechanics and documentation (guides to writing and style can be found under the menu item “writing”). Double spaced, 12 pt. font, Times or the like. Works cited page is in addition to your 5 page count. If you fail to follow MLA, your grade will automatically drop a half letter grade.

In my new role as Luddite-in-Chief, I will be accepting hard copy papers at the start of class on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 6pm sharp. Please print out your paper on white bond paper using black ink and a single staple in the upper left hand corner. Double-sided please so as to make the papers lighter and to use up less paper. Save a tree or two.

Here are some of the key terms that we’ve covered so far:

Dreams, Condensation, Displacement, Repression

Transference, Oedipal Complex

Trauma, Projection, Introjection, Death Drive, The Real

Objects, Phantasy, The Unconscious

Here are a couple of websites with useful definitions of some of the above terms (also our class readings usually have a paragraph that explains terms in summary form):

And, finally, here is a list of the key thinkers that I’ve mentioned in class:

Sigmund Freud

Melanie Klein

Anna Freud

Jacques Lacan

D. W. Winnicott

Rely of what you’ve read and what we’ve discussed to guide you through explaining the material. Email me if you have any questions.