College of Fine Arts and Communication

Research and Creative Activities

COFAC Colloquium 16 — Friday, November 11, 2011 — Art Lecture Hall, CFA 2032

The Truth in Illusion:
Collaborative Approaches and Pedagogy in Documentary Animation

Phil Davis, MFA Assistant Professor, Department of Electronic Media & Film

Sujan Shrestha, MFA Assistant Professor, Department of Art & Design


We, as artists/teachers, explored a collaboration of methods and techniques for teaching “Documentary Animation” as a synthesis of faculty/student interpretations. The course and subsequent collaborative animated film resulted in an unorthodox amalgam of style, medium, and technique.
Documentary and animation are often seen as opposites on the spectrum of filmmaking genre and technique, but there is a rich history of the combination of these approaches. In recent years a small fraction of independent filmmakers have begun exploring this unique juxtaposition. In the course and animated film we developed that juxtaposition by combining nonfiction audio with traditional and digital animated mediums, and balancing on the line between objective and subjective cinema. The course explored hybrid methods of teaching utilizing lectures, online discussion boards/blogs, and group collaboration all leading to a completed animated film surveying the topic of the current economic climate in the United States.
Our processes and methods were inspired by figures in the history of animation including: Winsor McCay, Oskar Fischinger, Norman McLaren, John and Faith Hubley, George Griffin, John Canemaker, Adam Elliot, Joanna Priestley, Jim Trainor, and Dennis Tupicoff. Through lectures, discussion, and production of animated sequences, the reconciliation of opposing purposes, ideas, and strengths were investigated. Biases were analyzed, presented, and discussed in classroom critiques, and ultimately, the unique expression of a combined animated illusion of documentary was produced. This collaboration investigated and explored the use of mixed media techniques through history, aesthetic, genre, and the amalgamation of fact and fiction in a documentary animated film.


“Love Letters to Baltimore”
Civic Memory, Citizenship, and Urban Community Narratives

Stacy Spaulding, Assistant Professor, Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies


Using the works of Baltimore journalists Rafael Alvarez and Michael Olesker, this paper identifies “urban community narratives” as a regional genre of literary journalism. This genre filters one or more elements of story—such as character, plot, theme, voice or structure—through the lens of setting with the explicit intent or implicit effect of creating civic memory and/or identity that preserves, creates, or reinforces urban community. This paper argues that an urban focus is increasingly timely and relevant, given that over half the world’s population now lives in urban centers and that all future population growth will take place in towns and cities, especially in developing countries. This paper is grounded in a theoretical framework that views cities and civic memory as keys to citizenship. This paper was presented at the 2011 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Conference in August and has been submitted to the international journal Literary Journalism Studies.

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