Voicethread Assignments

January 24—screen shot assignment                        

January 31—audio voiceover assignment

For each assignment, create one “slide” in Voicethread.

Give your project a title. It can be generic. I called my sample project “Voicethread project by Anne McKnight”

SCREEN SHOT example @ https://voicethread.com/?#e2624304
PROMPT–>Choose a screen shot that suggests or establishes what genre Tampopo is. Write a textual comment of 150-200 words that breaks down the image and then argues why it supports your reading. (MS Word will count your words for you, if you want to compose there, and then paste as a typed comment.)
–>By “breaks down,” I mean do a close reading of it: what’s in it, the kind of “shot” it is, what earlier genre elements it may recall, the size of the relative elements, the colors, the people, any movement of the contents or “camera,” the style or look, as well as what is happening. The example works like this…

[Description of what happens in the scene–>] This image comes from the opening sequence of Tampopo and features a dapper gangster who confronts both fellow spectators in the film and viewers watching Tampopo, He demands that the chip-eating salaryman stop crunching, and insists that all viewers must turn off “the most annoying thing” he can imagine in a pre-cell-phone era, the blare of wristwatch alarms going off before the lights go down. [What in the image/sequence is worth paying attention to, so that the viewer/reader gets your point] The gangster directly addresses the living viewer using the second-person pronoun “you.” A close-up depicts him staring directly into the living spectators’ face, a sheer closeness and intensity that breaks the imaginary barrier that usually separates the audience from a feature film.  [Significance] The gangster’s monologue the bears a striking resemblance to avant-garde or experimental cinema. He refuses to blend into the scenery and allow the spectator to passively slide into the world of the film. The gangster’s initial challenge to the viewer suggests a question that runs throughout the film’s vignettes: how can–or how MUST–viewers actively engage with cinema in order to properly appreciate it.

AUDIO voiceover example @ https://voicethread.com/?#u2140303

PROMPT–>Analyze a passage that conveys the genre and formal characteristics of diary literature.

This slide should be an image of a passage from My Year of Meats. (You may need to type this in MS Word, and then save it as a .pdf or use Grab to make an image out of it.) After you upload it, make a 1-minute audio commentary that performs a reading of the passage.  (In my example, 1 minute was about 115 words.)

–>Just like we do in class, tell us why you chose that passage, give some context in terms of the story, and then really focus on how the language, rhetoric and style work. Conclude by giving a brief mention of why it is important or interesting/weird/provocative in the context of the work as a whole.


One day Lord Korechika, the Minister of the Center, brought the Empress a bundle of notebooks. “What shall we do with them?” Her Majesty asked me…
“Let me make them into a pillow,” I said.
“Very well,” said Her Majesty. “You may have them.”
I now had a vast quantity of paper at my disposal, and I set about filling the notebooks with odd facts, stories from the past, and all sorts of other things, often including the most trivial material. On the whole I concentrated on things and people that I found charming and splendid; my notes are also full of poems and observations on trees and plants, birds and insects. I was sure that when people saw my book they would say, “It’s even worse than I expected. Now one can really tell what she really is like.” After all, it is written entirely for my own amusement, and I put things down exactly as they came to me…
As will be gathered from these notes of mine, I am the sort of person who approves of what others abhor and detests the things they like.
—Sei Shōnagon, The Pillow Book
Voiceover 1: sounds like “written English”
This passage is an epigraph to MYOM, the very first thing you see upon opening the book. It is a short excerpt from The Pillow Book, a diary written over 1000 years before Ruth Ozeki’s novel was published. Most chapters of MYOM begin with epigraphs like this, a pattern that suggests that the diary of Sei Shōnagon is still relevant to the story and style of the novel’s first-person narrator Jane. Though she calls them “notes” that are put down without calculation or pre-meditation, these improvised scribblings suggest that we can find both a rare kind of cleverness and, maybe, a rare kind of contrariness in her pre-modern “documentary” writing. Jane’s consistent use of Shōnagan’s work to frame her own suggests that Shōnagan offers a model for her own independent and idiosyncratic voice as a documentarian and writer.
Voiceover 2: sounds more like “spoken” English, and is a bit longer…
This passage is an epigraph to My Year of Meats. It’s the very first thing you see when you open the book. The passage is cut from The Pillow Book, a diary written over 1000 years before Ruth Ozeki put out her own novel. Most chapters of MYOM start with epigraphs like this, excerpts of first-person commentary. Here, Shonagon tells us about the composition of her diary: how she came to write what she did, what she covers, and how she expects people to react. This pattern resonates with Ozeki’s opening chapters, and makes us think that that the diary of Sei Shōnagon is still linked to the story and style that Jane uses to narrate MYOM. Shōnagon calls her comments “notes,” maybe because she pretends to put them down without strategy or over-thinking in advance. But the degree and depth of style in her scribblings might suggest otherwise–might highlight to us a rare kind of cleverness and, maybe, a rare kind of contrariness that makes her pre-modern “documentary” writing stand out. She “approves” what others “detest,” after all. Jane’s use of Shōnagan’s work in chapter after chapter to frame her own “voice” suggests that Shōnagan offers a model for her own craft as a documentarian and writer even in the late 20th century.
Note: You only get 3 minutes of “phone time” in total to record.

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