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PWR 91KD: Scripting Entertainments (for a Better YouTube)

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Course Description

In this advanced seminar, the main focus is to critically examine the genre of hyper-popular vlogsites and distill out what makes them so popular in order to apply newly learned scriptwriting techniques towards delivering more substantial content in this medium. Students will spend time learning about the genre and sub-genres of popular vloggers like PewDiePie, Jake and Logan Paul, Anthony Padilla and Ian Hincox, and Nigahiga, but also ask harder questions about the kinds of normative social appeals and generic genres they tend to traffic in. Then students will apply themselves to learning from cutting edge playwrights/scriptwriters like Anna Deavere Smith, Suzan-Lori Parks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Carlos Portugal to develop their scriptwriting chops. Finally, students will co-write, rehearse, and produce their own 1-3 minute videos using DIY editing software. Written analysis and reflection will parallel each creative task and culminate in group presentations that articulate the achievements and limitations of one’s own work. In the end, students should have a deeper critical appreciation of both rhetorical work in digital and theatrical spaces, and should have more confidence in how to exploit their critical, creative, and digital skills to get themselves and their stories heard—as well as to comment critically on others. As Donna Haraway writes, “we need to take seriously the acquisition of that kind of skill… to destabilize our own stories [and] to retell them with other stories, and vice versa.”

Major Assignments


  • Zibaldoni, or Sourcebook: Drawing from the theories of Jeffrey Castagno and Ann Barrows, each student will keep a sourcebook throughout the quarter of images, ideas, inspirations, quotes, and diagrams to chronicle their working creative process.
  • YouTuber Breakdown: Each student will pick a popular vlogger, analyze their composition choices with regards to genre, and provide a meta-breakdown of normative vs non-normative behaviors. Both written and oral.
  • Scriptwriter Breakdown: Each student will choose a short work by one of the selected playwrights/scriptwriters and analyze their dramatic and rhetorical choices, link it to genre, and provide a normative/non-normative behaviors breakdown.
  • Video Script: Working in teams, each group will provide a treatment, a script, and a revised script of their 1-2 minute video.
  • Reflection/Presentation: Working in teams, each video-making group will present to the class using a visual diagram of the evolution of their scripted entertainment from Youtubers to Scriptwriters to Vloggers and the achievements and limitations of their final work.
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