Documentary Studies - Bachelors

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The purpose of Documentary Studies is straightforward: to tell stories about people's lives as truthfully and effectively as possible through writing, film, photography, or some combination of these media. The real world is the classroom, and real people and real situations are the content. Through the telling of others' stories, students also recognize and tell their own. They stretch their boundaries, learn about themselves, and build empathy.

To honor the truth of any person or community, however, is profoundly difficult. What is the truth? What does a student need to know about context and background in order to understand any person's life or situation? Who tells the story, and what kind of power does the storyteller have? How are stories collected? What ethical questions arise as the student documents someone else's experience? How does storytelling itself shape truth? How does the choice of medium affect the message?

We draw on the rich traditions and knowledge in the field of Documentary Studies.  The major is rooted in disciplines dedicated to understanding human lives and communities—anthropology, folklore, psychology, sociology, political science, history, and oral history. Required interdisciplinary classes introduce students to the theory, history, ethics, and methods of making documentaries; meanwhile, classes in writing, film, and photography introduce them to the expressive and technical possibilities of each medium.
 

Documentary studies degree students can choose to concentrate in the area of film, photography, writing or to combine media.

Students may then choose to concentrate in an area—film, writing, or photography—or to combine media. Documentary Studies as a field is interdisciplinary, and in that spirit we encourage students to explore multiple and convergent forms of expression.

Our program seeks to create moments—both in the classroom and in the field—when none of the usual preconceptions and ready-made social categories apply and when students and teachers must question what they think they know and seek new understandings. We believe that the study of the documentary form brings students into relation with personal, social, political, and cultural differences and illuminates these differences rather than effacing or pigeonholing them.

What's more, the documentary form breaks down false distinctions between aesthetics and politics, and between art and social concerns; instead, it joins aesthetics and content. Students learn to collect stories and tell them in the most effective way they can. Sustained inquiry and artistic practice deepen their social understanding and individual artistry synchronously.

Documentary Studies prepares students for the new world. It helps them develop interpersonal, intercultural, interdisciplinary, meta-cognitive, critical thinking, and multimedia skills. Furthermore, it fosters creative entrepreneurship—as students work with individuals and communities on their documentaries and enlist and collaborate with others to support their work. They also learn to navigate and use The Web, learning not only how to obtain and evaluate information but how to use The Web to create community and to put their stories out there.
 

DOCUMENTARY STUDIES DEGREE REQUIREMENTS:

All students are required to complete an upper-level internship in the major. Each student also undertakes a 6-credit Degree Project in the last two semesters to produce a substantial documentary project accompanied by a reflective essay that explores technical, aesthetic, personal, and social contexts of the work.

Every Bachelor of Arts degree candidate must complete Burlington College's General Education requirements and earn a minimum of 120 credits to achieve a degree. The following course requirements are specific to the Documentary Studies major. Other coursework may be substituted with permission of the academic advisor. All courses are 3 credits unless otherwise noted.

45 credits past the 6 entry level credits are required. All courses are 3 credits unless otherwise noted. Other coursework may be substituted with permission of academic advisor.

Students may concentrate in film, writing, or photography or combine these media. In consultation with the advisor, students should determine which courses help them gain the knowledge, skills, and experience they need.

Intermediate Level Required
DOC200 - Foundations & Traditions of Documentary Studies
DOC220 - Field Studies Seminar
DOC250 - Ways of Knowing
DOC252 - Oral History and Documentary


Required 2 of 3: 6 credits
CIN201 - Video Production
WAL225 - Ordinary Lives: Writing about Others
FIN241 - Photographic Communication


Electives: 6 credits
CIN100 - Introduction to Cinema Studies
CIN150 - Film Production I


Intermediate Level (200) 12 credits
COR213 - How to Tell a Story
CIN219 - Nonfiction Film
WAL226 - Writing for New Media
CIN233 - Art of the Interview
FIN240 - Black & White Camera and Darkroom I
FIN242 - Documentary Photography
FIN243 - Digital Photography I
CIN252 - Film Production II (prerequisite Film Production I)
CIN/FIN263 - Photoshop I
COR267- Media Studies
COR269 - Topics in Media Studies
CIN281 - Nonlinear Editing: Final Cut Pro


Upper Level Required
DOC350 - Gathering Stories: Research Methods


Electives: 9 credits

Students may concentrate in film, writing, or photography or combine these media. In consultation with the advisor, students should determine which courses help them gain the knowledge, skills, and experience they need.

WAL332 - Creative Nonfiction
WAL333 - Memoir and Autobiography
COR337 - Ways of Seeing: Art, Literature, and Film Criticism
FIN340 - Black & White Camera and Darkroom II
FIN344 - Street Photography
FIN345 - Portraiture
FIN/WAL346 - Words and Images
CIN347 - Documentary Production I
FIN351 - Personal Vision through Photo Essay
CIN357 - Documentary Film & Video Production II
FIN363 - Photoshop for Photographers
CIN381 - Advanced Nonlinear Editing: Final Cut Pro
CIN386 - Audio Production I
CIN388 - Audio Production II


Internship
Action Learning Seminar and Internship 3 credits
Degree Project I & II (3 credits each): 6 credits


General Education Requirements

  • Demonstration of proficiency in academic computing
  • Vision and Revision (or assessment of writing sample)
  • Research and Reflection

Evidence of proficiency in the four fundamental learning skills 

  • Writing
  • Oral Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Researching

3 credits in each of the following areas of the liberal arts 
  • Creative Expression
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Historical Consciousness
  • Media Literacy
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Responsible Action
  • Scientific Thought
  • Social Awareness
teaser: 
The purpose of Documentary Studies is straightforward: to tell stories about people's lives as truthfully and effectively as possible