of Communications faculty members Brooke Barnett and Ray Johnson
are supervising undergraduate research at Elon University this summer
with two students who applied for and received SURE (Summer Undergraduate
Research Experience) grants.
receive a stipend of at least $2,500 for their work over the course
of an 8-week summer stretch. The students doing research this summer
are Laura Hersh and Neeley House.
Hersh is working
with faculty mentor Barnett on a meta analysis of critical values
in documentary film festivals.
of this project is to combine systematic analysis of successful
documentaries with studies of pedagogical practice to provide a
descriptive academic pattern of the content and form of acclaimed
documentary projects and to study how to best teach the genre,"
Barnett explained. "Many film festivals allow submission of documentary
projects. We plan to contact at least 20 of these festivals for
their selection criteria and judging sheets. Based on the festivals'
information and supplemented by in-depth interviews of festival
organizers and those who purchase and distribute documentaries,
a coding sheet will be constructed from such categories as documentary
length, format, funding, content, style, genre, etc. We will then
code the winners from the film festivals for the past five years."
she and Hersh also plan to do a similar study on the documentary
category in the Academy of Motion Pictures since the inception of
the awards. Then they will translate the findings of both studies
to describe pedagogical practices to use in the documentary classroom,
looking at what is valued at the beginning (student division and
regional festivals), intermediate (major film festivals), and advanced
(Academy Awards) levels.
content analysis, we will deduce a formula for success in the documentary
category intended for publication in an academic journal such as
Journal of Film and Video," Barnett said. "We will also write a
paper about how to strengthen documentary pedagogy based on what
is valued and rewarded in the profession and trends in the genre."
House is working
with Johnson to complete the "Black Mountain College Research Project,"
work for which she also received a Rawls research award. "Neeley
received the SURE grant to continue research, shooting and editing,"
College was founded in the mountains of rural North Carolina by
a group of disgruntled faculty members from Rollins College in Winterhaven,
Fla., who decided to build a learning environment devoid of grading
policies attendance and course requirements and rigid teacher-student
Over its 24-year
span in the 1930s, '40s and '50s, students and professors included
Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Josef
Albers and Joel Oppenheimer.
research and ultimately the creation of a documentary I hope to
help preserve this unique educational experiment," House, a history
and film major, wrote in her application for the SURE grant.
She is searching
for source material in the North Carolina and United States Historical
Archives in addition to interviewing Black Mountain alumni. House
is also working with a documentary filmmaker from New York City,
Cathyrn Davis, in the completion of her film, "Fully Awake: A Black
Mountain College Experience," on the same subject in a collaborative
"It is our
agreement that I will serve as co-producer on this project and provide
supplemental material and research to her film and edit her final
full length documentary," House explained. "I am also writing, producing
and editing a complementary short film that illustrates the more
creative aspects of BMC to give viewers a more intimate perspective
and leave them with an overall creative impression of the educational
cultural environment, the artistic and literary work that was produced
and the historical significance of this experiment in higher learning.
At the completion of both films, we have proposed to create an educational
packet to accompany a shorter 30- to 45-minute version of the full-length
historical documentary that will include teacher lesson plans and
classroom materials that will be distributed to middle and high
schools in North Carolina."
will be entered at several film festivals, including the North Carolina
Documentary Film Festival.