Tropes 101, part 2

First post here Yesterday, I started answering a question posed on the TVTropes subreddit, roughly: “If you could teach Tropes as a college course, what would your class be like?”

I got through the first 7 weeks of a 14-week curriculum, and during that time I think I covered all the stuff that's necessary for students to understand the idea of tropes, and the attitude it takes to analyze media in the TVTropes style.

But I've got another half a class to fill.  So now I have to think pretty seriously about what, exactly, I want to accomplish.  Apart from "TVTropes is a website that is pretty cool," what should the students in this class learn?

I've been treating my schedule so far as if it were written for Lit majors.  And that's an obvious group for this class to target.  But the question on the subreddit referenced getting a media degree, and that'd probably take a bit of a different direction.  And there's one more category of student who'd take a class like this:  writers.

So, I'm going to pander to all three!  Starting with the writer weeks, because everyone who spends a lot of time around art should get a taste of how much work goes into making it:

Next up I'm heading into Literary Criticism territory, so  I'd like to re-state the same caveat I've already pointed out in the first post in this series:  I'm not a Lit major, I don't know the language, and odds are pretty good that I'm missing some major points.  If I were going to teach this class, I'd want to spend at least a couple semesters taking lit classes, and Week 10 (or possibly sooner) would be all about interfacing TVTropes criticism with the criticism my students are already familiar with.

  • Week 10:  Watsonian vs. Doylist.  Getting used to analyzing from different perspectives requires that we get used to understanding where we're looking from.
  • Week 11: Post-Modern.  We've been here already, for quite some time.  Let's talk about it.  (Not talking about the fact that we're talking about it, but students who do that week's reaction paper on that question will probably recieve high marks.)

Finally, the media students, for whom this question was initially posed.

  • Week 12:  Seinfeld is Unfunny.  If you're going to start constructing narrative histories of concepts in media, you need to learn how to put yourself in a frame of mind to appreciate stuff that's 20/40/100/2000 years past its contextual expiration date.  Discussion on the differences between this and Values Dissonance, and revisit earlier themes of moral accountability in art.
  • Week 13:  A walk around the Creator Standpoint Index, for a distanced discussion of the artist's relationship to the work, rather than the audience's -- superficially similar to but I think meaningfully different from Weeks 8 and 10.

And, at last, finals!

  • Week 14: Take-home essay final that I'll come up with and hand out somewhere around week 12.