(above image from Between Neighborhoods, Seth Fein, 2017)

Date Topic Readings/Assignments/ Field Trips
Jan 25 What is documentary? An overview



Pod 1: Documentary as Advocacy: From Top Down Efforts 

to Community Based Practices

Professors Entin, Juhasz, Schiller, and Siegel


Feb 1 Exploring Documentary Advocacy, led by Joseph Entin Jacob Riis, excerpts from How the Other Half Lives (1890)

Muriel Rukeyser, “Book of the Dead” (1938)

Feb 8 Advocacy and Narratives of Resiliency in the Contemporary Lower East Side, led by Naomi Schiller

Meeting at the Center for Worker Education, 25 Broadway, Manhattan


Field trip to the Lower East Side, where we will visit significant sites to think through place, advocacy, and voice. We will begin to discuss interview strategies.


“A Tale of Two Sandy’s” report


Watch the first 15 minutes of Sinking Cities: New York


Narayan, Kirin. “How Native is a “Native” Anthropologist?” (1993)


Assignment for next class: Come up with someone to interview from your neighborhood–either a neighborhood activist or a long-term resident. Research them and make an initial contact to see if they will agree to an oral history interview.

Feb 15 Interviewing and Efforts to Document Everyday Voices, led by Jessica Siegel Students will pitch their idea for an oral history interview from their neighborhood–either a neighborhood activist or a long-term resident. Students will pair up to work on one together. They will come up with questions and work on questioning technigues. The pairs will conduct the interview for next week.


Feb 22 Poetry as Response to Crisis of Truth in the Present, led by Alex Juhasz Students will create poetry about their own relationship to place inspired by our explorations and documentation over the previous few weeks.

Texts/images: #100hardtruths-#Fakenews online media literacy primer:


Fake News Poetry Workshops as Radical Digital Media Literacy given the Fact of Fake News:




Pod 2: Documentary as Autobiographical Expression

Professors Guaraná and Khan


March 1 Telling and Writing Your Story, led by Mustapha Khan and Bruno Guaraná Reading: Peggy McIntosh, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”

Students will participate in a creative and collaborative workshop to develop their own stories and consider how to present these stories orally and through writing.

March 8 The Self and Its Visual Forms, led by Mustapha Khan and Bruno Guaraná With a focus on visual representation such as photography and painting, students will explore different strategies and styles to create visual representations of abstract concepts related to the self.
March 15 Documentary as Performance, led by Mustapha Khan and Bruno Guaraná Reading: Michael Renov, “New Subjectivities”


Exploring the documentary film as a form of self-expression and autobiography, students will consider different elements of documentary production to create an autobiographical piece in the form of their choosing (such as a short film, photo essay, poem, website, etc).

March 22 Autobiographies workshop, led by Mustapha Khan and Bruno Guaraná Students will share their autobiographies as works-in-progress for feedback and workshopping with peers and instructors.

Pod 3: Documentary, History and Empathy

Professors Fein, Hashmi, Patkanian and Zamparini


March 29 Luca Zamparini, “Representing Holocaust Trauma”

— Lanzmann’s “Shoah” (1985) and

— Alain Resnais’ “Night and Fog” (1955)


Seth Fein, “Documentary Art”

— excerpts from Fein Between Neighborhoods(2017) and Our Neighborhood(in production); Chantal Ackerman, News from Home (1976); Frederick Wiseman, In Jackson Heights(2015) and Canal Zone(1977); Bill Morrison, Dawson City (2016)


Night and Fog

Selections from Shoah

Two online viewings: Fein, Between Neighborhoods (2017) –– Sequences” (11 mins) and interview with Fein (8.5 mins) CUNY TV Short Docs Web Series, 2018, José Luis Orbegozo, producer.

Two readings: Dai Vaughan, “What Do We Mean by ‘What’?” [1986] and ”Between Neighborhoods (2017): documentary art,

audiovisual scholarship, and the public humanities,”

Joshua Glick in conversation with Seth Fein, Jump Cut 58 (2018),” especially pp. 2-3.

April 5 Construction of Empathy. Empathy and identification

“Remembering Pain, Protecting Privilege: News Stories of Unemployment” Network news stories from 1970s to now

Irina Patkanian, “Long Take and Empathy.”

— Sergei Loznitsa’s “Austerlitz”

–Documentary Film Opera “Iphigenia Point Blank: Story of the First Refugee”

Susan Sontag, “Regarding the Pain of Others” (pp. TBA)
Butler, “When is life grievable?”

“Children in Gold” CUNY TV Short Docs Web Series, Clips of news stories

Digital haiku on the theme of JOB and ALONE


April 12 Production Day: the whole class meets at dif. locations, where we shoot observational videos on smart phones. We all reconvene at 242 Library at 11.30.  Make: Video postcard

Spring Break April 19 – April 28


May 3 Students present their work to professors and peers. Discussion.

Closing remarks by each professor connecting projects to their particular presentation. (optional)

Extended Haiku (30 sec + 42 sec + 30 sec or longer, but divisible by 5+7+5 and not longer than 2min.) on a theme of your choice. You are free to use your video postcards, footage you shot during class 3, or shoot new footage,  BUT 1 of 3 elements has to be found/archival footage as per Seth’s explanation.


Rules (obstructions) =

1. No interviews (people talking among themselves is OK).

2. No montage

3. No music

4. No Voice over

5. Must have a haiku type moment/emotional event/point.


Bringing it all together


May 10 Work on Final Projects
May 17 (Finals Week) Showcase