Media Studies: Teens in the Twenty-Teens

The popularity of Teen and Young Adult (YA) books and movies has exploded over the last few decades as young people have become increasingly active participants in this brave new digital world we inhabit. In this five-week media studies series, we will watch some representative examples of films made about the teen experience in the new millennium. During the course of this new series we will look at major themes and tropes in current teen movies. But, as a bonus, this series will also introduce you to the basics of “film studies” as we consider many of the various aspects of cinematic storytelling, looking in depth at such elements as characterization, dialogue, plot (or narrative structure), setting, visual composition (such as camera angles and film editing), sound, music, and so on.

Each Friday for the next five weeks, I’ll post a short introduction giving background on the “movie of the week” and touching on some key components we need to consider when analyzing the film. At that time, I’ll also give you four or five discussion questions as homework. These questions provide a focus for your attention while watching the movie at home. I’ve picked movies that are readily available on streaming channels. The questions also form the basis of a written dialogue between us – you and me directly via email, but also with the larger class by extension.

After you watch our movie of the week and consider any additional materials I’ve provided, you’ll email me your answers to the discussion questions by Monday at noon. I’ll provide personal feedback on your answers, sometimes asking you follow-up questions and offering suggestions for other things you might think about. I’ll also post a wrap-up for each movie before we launch into the next one.

Weekly Schedule

  • Friday: Professor Chuck posts introduction to the movie of the week with homework & discussion questions
  • Monday: You email homework to Professor Chuck by 12noon
  • Wednesday: Professor Chuck sends students feedback and posts a wrap up on the movie of the week

Movies of the Week

May 15: “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” (2018)

May 22: “See You Yesterday” (2019)

May 29: “The Space Between Us” (2017)

June 5: “The Half of It” (2020)

June 12: “Five Feet Apart” (2019)

Signing Up

If you plan to participate and would like feedback from me on your homework, please contact me before the first day of the series to sign up. I’ll add you to my email distribution list for the course and expect to be in steady contact with you during the five weeks. Official “enrollment” is limited to the first 20 people who sign up to ensure that I have time to respond to everyone who sends me answers to the discussion questions. Though donations are welcome, participation and access to series materials is always free.

Lurkers are welcome. If you’d like to follow along on your own anonymously, I’d be delighted. You might also use these materials to organize family movie nights with the discussion questions as conversation starters. Please do.

Educators are also welcome to adapt these materials for their own instruction, though please give me credit if you’re just reproducing what I’ve posted. A thank you email letting me know wouldn’t go amiss either.

That’s all. Stay home, stay safe, live and learn.

Published by Chuck Caruso

writer of dark fiction (crime, horror & western noir), literary & textual scholar (american gothic, noir, po-co, sf), and cultural critic

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