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The Ubu Reviews:

Part A: Critical Perspectives (Part B: Media Objects)


For your three reviews (see Assignments page), I'd like you to pick a critical perspective from list "A", find out how it works, and apply it to one of the media objects from list "B".  It doesn't really matter which ones you use to go with eachother - the main idea is to try on a critical outlook, and see if it 'speaks to' the media object you've selected.


Your reviews should be short (300 - 500 words), but focused on what makes this person or thing or event important. You don't need to describe for me what's going on. When processing the readings and examples, ask yourself these questions:


1)     What stands out for you most - - was it a big and over-arching idea that somehow gave you an Oprah “Ah-ha” moment (or maybe an Ah-ha “Ah-ha” moment)? Was it some small detail in the production or writing that distills a larger idea down to something more accessible, but no less essential? If something made an impression (an insight or realization or moment of temporary reprieve from suffering or joke or galvanizing statement, etc.), what was it, and how does it CONNECT to you? (“Between every two minds there is a third” - - what are the parts of YOU that got connected as a result of you experiencing this? Articulating this can be difficult, but it’s important to start attaching words to more ephemeral phenomena like feelings, preferences, and hazy indistinct veils of ideas. )


2)     Maybe the reading or example was completely opaque to you – you didn’t ‘get it’, or somehow it didn’t make a connection with anything in your immediate experience. Identify why you think you couldn’t connect with it – was it unclear, was it coming out of a time or place with which you aren’t familiar, was it spoken in a language or style in which you aren’t too fluent, did it seem to undermine deeply held beliefs or values (which can be a good thing!), or was it simply new and unfamiliar? This complete lack of connection with the material can also be what stands out most to you: you may have discovered a lacuna! (And what, then, do you do about it?)



How to actually BEGIN. Start by asking yourself these things:


    1. What's the medium (film, painting, sculpture, performance, interactive art, etc.)?
    2. What are the distinctive VOCABULARY elements, or the aspects of the work that create some sense of COHESION and UNITY?
    3. What elements or aspects of the work ILLUSTRATE or DEMONSTRATE key principles from the critical perspective you're using  (such as the Manovich article in the class discussion project)?
    4. What makes the work important historically, theoretically, or culturally, and are there ECHOES of this work—or this type of work—in contemporary digital culture or more recent work?





Fine Art Criticismexample

Film Criticism

Archetypal Psychologyexampleexample



Virtual Realities


New Media • example • example 

Post-Modernism and post-Post-Modernism


Semiotics • overview 


"Gaze" Theories



LIST 'B' - MEDIA OBJECTS (linked page)



And, some additional notes:


Introduction: Towards Scholarly Humanism (the work of Erich Neumann)   intro_scholar_humanist.pdf

A couple of notes, from previous students' experiences with this assignment: 


1) Criticism (as in Film Criticism and Fine Art Criticism) is not about 'criticizing' work, but about using your critical thinking skills to examine and analyze a work.

2) Most of these perspectives (for instance 'mythology' and 'Marxism' and 'Feminism') have had a long history and multiple canons and revisions. Recognize this by focusing on their most relevant, meaningful, contemporary, and resonant aspects. 

3) Don't spend your whole review JUST DESCRIBING what goes on. We already know what goes on, although certainly you can reference important elements of the composition.





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