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Sandman projects

In our work on Sandman, we’ve touched on four topics: the hero (Morpheus’s relations to the Byronic hero, the superhero, etc.); the visual language of Sandman (abstraction, transitions, etc.); dreaming (your dream songs); and, briefly, Sandman’s intertexts (i.e. how Sandman draws on, alludes to, and comments on other narratives – -from Milton’s Paradise Lost to DC Comics).  Now, it’s time to develop these topics into final projects.  Remember, our goal is to publish a collection of essays on Sandman.

Choose a topic. (Or, if you want to develop your own, talk to me.)  Go to google docs (if you don’t have a google account, create one).  Create a new doc (titled with your name and Sandman, e.g. “HanleySandman”).  Share the document with me (click on the “share” button and share with “”).  This will be your workspace for your project.  By sharing the document with me, I can give you feedback, comments, etc.

Start thinking about what you find interesting about Sandman and the topic.  Talk about your ideas with other members of your group (You can also share your document with them.).  Start sketching out an essay or commentary.  Remember, Sandman is a visual text – – so you’ll probably want to illustrate or support your argument with Sandman or other images.  Your final essay/commentary should probably be about three or four pages.


For Tuesday (April 19)

Now that you’ve really started to annotate our Sandman images/pages, first, look over your classmates’ annotated images (e.g. by browsing through the wiki pages and clicking on the images), comment on their notes and annotations in Flickr.

We’re going to move on to Phase II of the visual language assignment.  See full details on our class wiki.

Don’t forget to bring in your list of “dream” songs for Tuesday.

For Thursday (April 14)

Don’t forget, we’ll meet on Thursday in Hum 401, the computer lab.

Before then, you need to do a couple of things:

1) Go to and create an account!

2) And, look at these three guides to “decoding” the graphic elements of the comic page (e.g. click on the images):

Scott McLoud’s triangle of visual vocabulary

Comic book panel transition

Composition and page layout






Tuesday (April 5)

Welcome back from spring break!  Time to get back to work!

Don’t forget, for Tuesday: your semiotic comparison of two “entrance” scenes in Wuthering Heights.  To do this, you’ll need to:

– first, find two scenes, one from Book 1 and the other from Book 2 (or, pre-Cathy/Edgar/Hindley death and post), where a “newcomer” enters the world of Wuthering Heights.  Focus down on the center of this scene – – e.g. no more than a page of novel text per scene.

–  second, analyze each scene line-by-line for its semiotic oppositions, or binaries.  This means underlining words and phrases in the text and noting their binary opposites.  Recall the double-entry pages we used to analyze several previous scenes in the novel.

– third, compare the oppositions in each scene: what are the particular, recurrent oppositions in the scene? how do these reflect more global or general oppositions (nature vs. culture, gentleman vs. “gipsy,” etc.)?

– answer the question: what changes between each scene? E.g. how does each scene “articulate” the meanings of these oppositions and the novel’s characters in different ways?  Or, alternatively, how does a semiotic comparison of the two scenes show us something important about the narrative transformations in Wuthering Heights?

You should type all of this up (no more than three pages, and xerox and staple your Wuthering Heights excerpts to your analysis) and bring it to class on Tuesday.

For Thursday (3/24)

Don’t forget – – for Thursday, you want to list all of the “entrance” scenes that you can find in Wuthering Heights, e.g. those scenes where an outsider enters the “world” of Wuthering Heights.  For each “entrance” scene, write a brief paragraph describing who is entering and what happens.

For Tuesday (3/22)

Don’t forget to keep reading Wuthering Heights – – try to get well into Volume/Book II.

Also – – take a look at the John Fiske piece on “character.”  (Look carefully at the little icons below the text and you’ll see a button to download the text – – this may the easiest way to read the chapter.)



Law and Order: Final Phase

I’ve posted the final assignment on the class wiki.  Due date: Friday, March 18.

Also – – keep reading Wuthering Heights. But, be sure to read the Saussure piece and the Daniel Chandler introduction to semiotics.

For Thursday (3/9)

By Thursday morning, you should have posted your analyses of your two Law and Order episodes to the class wiki.

Also, you want to read the first three chapters of Wuthering Heights.

Law and Order: Phase 2

We’ve worked up a kind of rough draft of the narrative sequence, dramatis personnae, and main conflicts or oppositions in one episode of Law and Order.  Now, your goal is to develop and test these aspects of popular narrative in two other episodes from Law and Order.

First, go to our class wiki.  Be sure to sign up for two episodes from the first season.  (Remember: no more than three students per episode – – if you land on a page that already has three people signed up, move on to another episode.)

Download your two episodes from iTunes.  Watch your two episodes and take notes.

Return to the class wiki.  First, on the page assigned to the episode, work up a plot summary of the episode – – e.g. a chronological account of the main scenes in the episode.  You’ll work on this together – – e.g. no need to post three separate plot summaries.  Next, lay out the sequence of narrative functions (e.g. Discovery, Montage, Arrival, etc.).  Then, work out the dramatis personnae (e.g. victim, suspect, false suspect, etc.).  Finally, what are the oppositions or conflicts that seem to structure the narrative? (e.g. corrupt professional vs. ethical professional, low vs. high – – but in what form? (black vs. white, working-class vs. middle-class, etc.)).  Again, think of the wiki as a space to work together, combining insights and collaborating.

Obviously, you won’t be finished with this by Tuesday.   But, you should get a start so that you can work with your comrades in class.

For Thursday (3/3)

We’re going to test out Propp’s ideas about character and narrative by looking at one of the most popular narratives in the recent past – – Law and Order.

First, follow this link to the Apple iTunes store.   There, you’ll see the whole first season of the show.  (You will need to have iTunes installed on your computer or portable device.) Download episode 8 – – “Poison Ivy.”  Watch the episode.  Summarize the plot.  Bring this summary to class on Thursday.  (You might also find it helpful to look at the “narrative grammar” of the Western, as outlined by Will Wright.)

Second, look over the rest of the episodes from the first season.  Select two that look interesting to you.  In class, you’ll sign up to work on these two episodes.