MWF 2-3 225 Dwinelle Instructor: Katherine Mezur

Animation captivates us with its extremes: the utter sweetness of animal-like creatures, the morphing shapes of sinister robot machines, the surreal landscapes of abandoned worlds, and the super-charged emotions that arise from impossible acts of heroism. In this writing intensive course, we will explore the medium and contents of a variety animation and analyze how this art form, technologically and aesthetically, produces these compelling narratives and characters with social and political resonance and
impact. From Ghibli, to Disney, to Pixar, to international homegrown animation, the animated film has the power to motivate viewers to consider social, political, and ecological issues. We will examine and analyze how issues of race and gender, climate disasters, animal and human rights, war and forced migration play out across and through animation from different periods and cultures. Animation’s complex technology of digital layers, interfaces, and ever-changing technologies make it a volatile, frustrating, and demanding discipline. Animated film also intertwines these technologies with culture specific aesthetics, values, and social/political systems, which include the culture of animation production, its distinctive collective practices, and fan cultures.

At the heart of this exploration is how imagination and reality coexist, interrupt, and shed light on each other. What is animation’s relationship to reality? How do characters and worlds reflect the everyday real, the hyper-real, and the utterly fantastic? What does the cartoon-like fantasy do to the real? Can the¬†fantastic make the daily more poignant and terrible?
Course Requirements
The readings for this course include the films themselves as well as articles on the theories and practices of animation and media. Coupled with these readings are articles on race, gender, sexuality, war, climate, and animal and human rights. Assignments include short analytical essays, presentations, a collective project, and a research paper with abstract and bibliography. All written assignments include drafts and re-writing as part of the work. Students must be prepared to view entire films outside class as part of their weekly assignments.