Screen culture and gender: Film to Apps

By the 25th of November you must choose one of the two following questions and answer it in 1000 words. Entry 4 is worth 40% of your journal mark (and thus 20% of your overall mark for the unit).

Option 1 – Conduct an autoethnography of your own screen use for “social distancing” in the Covid-19 pandemic

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Very few, if any, of you will have attempted autoethnography before, so we need first to give you a careful account of what this means and offer some specific parameters that will help a beginning autoethnographer. If you choose this assignment the only required research is thus focused on learning about autoethnography from the following two readings:

1. Read the following sections of Heewon Chang’s book, Autoethnography As Method (2008), available here (Links to an external site.). This involves a total of less than 18 pages:
— Part of chapter 3, “Autoethnography” – specifically pp 43-49 (from the beginning of the chapter to “Autoethnographic research focus”);
— Part of chapter 6, “Collecting Self-Observational and Self-Reflective Data” – specifically pp 89-96 (from the beginning of the chapter to “Personal Values and Preferences”);
— A short part of chapter 9, “Analyzing and Interpreting Data” – specifically pp 125-127 (from the beginning of the chapter to “Are Analysis and Interpretation Synonymous?”);
— And finally a short part of chapter 10, “Writing Autoethnography” – specifically pp 143-144 (the section titled “Descriptive-Realistic Writing”).
You’re of course welcome to read from the rest of the book, but for the purposes of this assignment you need only read the specific sections listed above.

2. Read Johanna Uotinen’s essay on the benefits of autoethnography for writing about gender and technology, “Digital Television and the Machine That Goes ‘PING!’: Autoethnography as a Method for Cultural Studies of Technology” (2010), available here (Links to an external site.).

Informed by this advanced reading you will then set out to document and evaluate your own present and recollected experience of how you have used screens during the pandemic. This will involve what Chang discusses as self observation and self reflection, and your submitted work will take the form of what Chang calls “descriptive-realistic writing”. It should include close reflection on the ways in which your screen use has changed (or not), on the ways those changes have been significant or meaningful for you (or not), and on how screen use fits into your broader experience of the pandemic.

If you wish to utilise any of the required or recommended readings set for Weeks 10-12 of this unit to inspire or structure your assignment, then you are welcome to do this, but it is not required. You are encouraged to consider how gender plays a part in your experience of screen use during the pandemic, and in the position from which you might write autoethnographically, but this is not a required focus of your writing. Any research that you utilise in working towards this submission, including the required readings, should be properly recorded in a bibliography.

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