Justice Matters: The Power of Documentary Films

Professor Janice Xu leads the ECG 100 course The Power of Documentary Films. One of the Engagements with the Common Good courses, this course looks at documentary as a storytelling medium and examines the social and historical forces that impact documentary filmmaking. Students are asked to watch documentaries that highlight different social and cultural issues and to think critically about both the subjects of the films and the decisions of the filmmakers. Through examination of their own intellectual and emotional responses, students gain a greater sense of connectedness to those whose lives are chronicled in the films they watch.  The syllabus reads: “The documentary film is potentially a powerful and expressive means by which to educate and enlighten, providing the viewer with revealing perspectives into the multi-faceted realms of human activity. This class will discuss issues of representation, ethics, voice, forms and conventions in documentary filmmaking. It seeks to provide students a broad understanding and insights relating to various social and cultural issues through selective documentary films, and a framework by which meanings of social justice can be questioned and analyzed.”

Submitted by: J. Hasse, Reference Librarian

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