To Our Students: For revamped info on Week 9, check under Schedule, Week 9.


 Winter quarter, frosh-senior, signature required

Faculty: Caryn Cline (media studies, media production,,  Sem2 C2108)  & Sam Schrager (American studies and folklore,, Sem2 C2110)


One writes out of one thing only — one’s own experience. Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give. This is the only real concern of the artist, to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art.  –James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son


 Our inquiry explores the power of storytelling in literature and film to take fresh looks at experience. It is designed for students who are prepared to do a serious writing or media-making project in documentary, fictional or hybrid modes. You will study a series of stellar written and audiovisual texts, examine the methods these artists use to craft compelling narratives, and mine them for inspiration and guidance as you pursue your own original work. The aim is to discover a poetics and a continuum of techniques to feed your creative practices, now and in the future. For advanced students, this program is an ideal context for advanced projects; for intermediate students, a challenging opportunity to develop their craft. Your project can be collaborative or individual; faculty will provide sustained guidance at each stage of its development, and students will support and critique one another’s work.

  Required texts (in order):

James Baldwin, The Devil Finds Work (Vintage International) read prior to first program meeting; Sam Schrager, ed., Writing American Cultures (Evergreen State College Press); Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (Harcourt); W. G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn (New Directions); Joan Didion, The White Album (Farrar, Straus & Giroux); Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead); Grace Paley, The Collected Stories (Farrar, Straus & Giroux); Daniel Woodrell, Winter’s Bone (Back Bay); David Bayles and Orland, Art & Fear (Image Continuum). There’ll also be some shorter readings and links to texts (req or opt) online.

 Films (tentative list): Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989); “The Smell of Burning Ants” (Jay Rosenblatt, 1994); “The Ties That Bind” (Su Friedrich, 1985), and other short films TBD; Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953); Nine Muses (John Akomfrah, 2010);  Tokyo-Ga (Wim Wenders, 1985); Jean-Luc Godard film TBD; 35 Shots of Rum (Claire Denis, 2008).   Films are subject to change.  

 Class schedule:

Tuesdays: 10 AM to noon, lecture/discussion (Sem2 B2105); 1:30 to 3:30, seminar (Lib 1001 & 2708)

Wednesdays: Open project space (no class: meetings with peers, production groups, faculty; fieldwork)

Thursdays: 9:30 to 12:30 film screenings (Com 320); 1:00 to 3:30, film workshops (Sem2 B1107)

Fridays: 9:30 to 11:30, seminar (Sem2 B2105 & 2107); 12:30 to 3:00, practicum Sem2 B2105 & 2107)



In enrolling in Eye of the Story, you commit to developing an integrative approach to literature and film. While your own project will probably entail a deeper engagement with either writing or media, you won’t focus just on one in the program while downplaying the other. Your evaluation will reflect your fluency with both literary and media texts and your engagement with program questions and ideas beyond your own work.

This commitment requires active involvement in our community of inquiry’s conversation about storytelling, working from these print and film texts as well as your own projects to enhance our shared understanding of story as it relates to poetics, style, lived experience, imagination, and transformation. These endeavors—realized through discussions in-and-outside of class, postings to our website, and presentations of your project work—are important to your success in (and the success of) the program.

When charged subjects arise—personal, cultural, political—you’ll strive to listen and respond with care, to treat your peers as having complexity and fallibility comparable to your own. We’ll try our best not to shrink from controversy or to expect agreement; we want, rather, to nurture an atmosphere of mutual respect and openness to new understandings.

You will be responsible for working diligently on your project throughout our 10-week program. You’ll be ready and willing to present your project to your faculty and cohort as a work-in-progress at designated times during the quarter. You’ll be willing, even eager, to accept critical comments from faculty and fellow students about the project, and to offer constructive critical comments to your peers about theirs. You’ll create a polished piece of work to present to the program near the quarter’s end—not necessarily the completion, but a good stopping-point, for your project.

You should be prepared to do the work you are dedicated to pursue, without “training” in that work as part of the program. If you need some help or technical support to accomplish your work, Caryn and Sam will assist you to find that support, but they will not train you as writers or media makers. Also, you need to think through what you will do in the spring, and whether you will carry your project forward beyond our program. Faculty will help you think about next steps, but we won’t be on campus to support your work in the spring.

Further expectations for earning full credit: Don’t be absent for more than two days-worth of class over the course of the quarter. Lateness counts as half an absence. You need to post all required assignments to the Eye of the Story website, and do so by deadlines. Participate in program activities: speak in seminar (seminar will be a supportive audience and it is great practice), do the reading, be active in small groups and attentive in class. (To this end, no electronic devices can be used in class unless there’s a special need.)

Take advantage of your faculty: please feel free to talk with, email, or meet with Caryn or Sam when interest or need dictates—if you want input on your project, have an idea to kick around, or a question to be addressed, or an urgent concern. We will have extended office hours on Wednesday to see students and, if needed, can arrange other times.  


Featured image: film still from “Left Side/Riverside” by Caryn Cline