11/26/12 – Swathi Satty

This Monday, we started discussing Catcher in the Rye which I have read as a freshman in High school. I always loved this book because of the many character flaws Holden had himself. And it was interesting to be able to compare my own analysis of Holden against is own thoughts which were very broadly shown within the novel.

We talked about the common slang of the 1950s and I noticed that the slang has drastically changed but hints of it still remained in today’s society. I like the fact that J.D Salinger made the book relatable even if the character’s thoughts might not be. I could clearly tell that this was intended for anyone to read because of the common slang terminology. I found it interesting that for a brief time, this book was actually banned for being read in schools because of its explicit sexual, profane and violent nature. But I’m glad it made it’s return because the character has so much depth that allows the readers to be easily fascinated. I’m looking forward to make my own version of a brief portion of the book because that helps us understand it even more.

We also briefly looked at Manhattan again. I realized just how a big a role music played in this film. Some of it created the fast paced lifestyle of New York which other pieces were romantic which was shown with the use of Rhapsody Blues in the very beginning of the song. This movie was perfect to our study of the arts of New York.



Today, we started talking about the Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I really enjoyed this novel. I find it surprising that Salinger was able to get this novel published in the early 1950s when things like sex were considered taboo. According to the American Library Association, the Catcher in the Rye is the second most challenged book, behind the Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The novel has been banned and challenged from 1960 with the most recent case in 2009 for it’s profanity, sexual content, violence, and “moral issues”. I think children face much more profanity, sexual content, violence, and “moral issues” on television, the Internet, in music on the radio, and when playing video games.

In class, we discussed some of the slang and terminology used in the novel. I found it very interesting to see how people would talk back then, especially since movies during that time tried their best to make everything family friendly which this novel is definitely not. I think this novel is important because it shows people that not everyone was as proper or “square” in the fifties as we sometimes generalize in the present.

It also got my thinking about the changes in slang words even in the past five years. Five years ago, my friends and I would go around saying something was “phat” which meant it was cool. Nowadays, nobody says “phat”. A fairly recent slang word that arose in the past year is “tight”. If someone’s annoyed or angry, you can say that they’re “tight”.

– Amber G.

Monday 11/26

In Monday’s seminar class, we began to speak about Catcher in the Rye. When I first read this in High School, it immediately became one of my favorite books. In class, we spoke about archetypes, which are basically stock characters. Everyone knows these basic characters that are in almost every show: the dumb blonde, the bully, and the righteous hero. After being exposed to these characters for what seems like endlessly, they start to lose their appeal to us. There’s only so many times a dumb blonde type in a TV show will make us really laugh before we get sick of the same type of humor. However, Salinger challenged these stereotypical characters by presenting us with Holden.

Holden is an anti archetype. He is definitely not the normal perfect hero. A hero would usually be on a quest throughout the novel to be a better person and to do good deeds. However, Holden does not start out doing good deeds; he hires a prostitute and punches a kid in the face. He is his own type of character, not a type that has been repeated for centuries. When he speaks to his sister, he says that his dream was to be the “catcher in the rye,” saving kids from being corrupted. He is sort’ve a neo-tragic hero, with a personality far different from the stock characters we are all so used to.

Corinna – 11-26-12

This Monday we briefly addressed some of the aspects of mise-en-scene in regards to the movie Manhattan.  First, we discussed the use of music in the film. Due to the struggle I had when writing about it in my blog a few days before, I was eager to go over it in class.  Just as I had thought, there really weren’t that many scenes in the film with music.  Besides the reassurance I received from realizing I had remembered correctly, I also acquired a better understanding of the importance/role of the music in the movie.  For example, some of the music, including “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin, helped add to the romantic feel/style of this film.  The music, the idea of chasing your dreams, as well as scenes like the one in the planetarium where Mary and Issac are together in the dark, all make the film romantic I believe that the romantic style of this movie is actually the reason I enjoyed the movie as much as I did.

For the second half of class, we had a discussion on the book Catcher in the Rye.  What I really liked about this discussion was that it wasn’t just a bunch of question being asked in order to figure out who read the book and who didn’t.  I really never liked it when teachers did that in the past.  Our discussion was different in that to answer the questions, we did have to know the events and details of the book, but we also needed to get creative and think like characters’ and author’s would in certain situations.  I enjoyed assigning characters to archetypes, and also thinking about things such as what a kid like Holden would do on a regular day, or how things would be said with present day ling


I really enjoyed our discussion about “The Catcher in the Rye” today. We took time to analyze Holden’s character and the setting of the novel. We discussed Holden’s character and the language that he uses because of the time period. We focused on the word “phony” which was used differently than its literal meaning. It is going to be a real challenge to come up with a word that is used the same way. The only word that we used in class was “Fake,” which is a word that is used very often today in conversations. I am looking forward to doing this assignment because it will be like I am writing my own edition of the book. This will be a fun experience for me because I don’t think I am likely to be writing a book in my lifetime, but I will have a taste of it.

What really interested me about today’s class was the discussion about archetypes. I had no idea what archetypes were before this class and now that I know about them I am going to be looking at movies and novels a lot more closely. I was very surprised when Professor Kahan told us that the original Star Wars, some my favorite movies, were based on the first archetype, the story of Jesus.  I don’t think that I would have ever made this connection. Off the top of my head I can think of a few movies that are based on the story of Jesus like The Lion King and The Matrix. 


During Monday’s seminar class, we began discussing the soundtrack of Woody Allen’s Manhattan.  Although there was not a lot of music present in the movie, the George Gershwin music that Allen used was very meaningful.  Allen was writing a tribute to NYC, and so it makes sense that he would open his movie with the smooth, relaxing Rhapsody in Blue.  The music that Allen chose was picked specifically in order to to arouse certain feelings and emotions; the movie’s musical score really influences our perception of the movie.  For example, the ominous Jaws theme song achieves a feeling of alarm and pulsating terror.  The vibrant theme song in Pirates of the Caribbean creates a triumphant and victorious feeling.  So in Manhattan, the movie also arouses nostalgic feelings in the audience.  The music itself seems to show how big, diverse and romantic New York City is.

We also spoke about the archetypes present in Catcher in the Rye.  Ackley was a nerd and Spencer was the archetype of the wise old man.  There is also a situational kind of archetype in this book.  Holden Caulfield seems to be the same type of character as Huckleberry Finn.  Both are adolescents who go out on their own and encounter situations and problems while on their way to maturity and adulthood.

Seminar Class 11/26/12

On monday, Professor Kahan began class by starting a conversation on the film Manhattan. We mainly talked about the use of music in the film since many of us commented about it in our blogs the previous week. Many of us have agreed that there was not a lot of music used in this movie. However, the music that was put into the film was by George Gershwin. In the beginning of the film, his song “Rhapsody in Blue” was used. I thought this song was a great decision for the opening of the movie because I think it has  a New York theme or feeling. It gave a power and “proud to be a New Yorker” kind of emotion. The music also had a jazzy and romantic feeling to it as well. For example, the music sounded romantic when Isaac and Mary were together at the planetarium.

The second part of the class was a discussion on the the novel The Catcher In The Rye by J. D Salinger. This was the second time I had to read this book. Even though I enjoyed it the first time I read it, I enjoyed it even more the second time because I was able to analyze Holden in more detail knowing the sequence of events in the novel. I love this book because I feel that many teens can relate to it. Even though it took place in the 1950s, teens today are basically dealing with and experiencing similar things to what Holden is experiencing in the novel. I also find the book to be very funny so it was an easy read because it was very entertaining.

Our assignment for this novel, to me, is very interesting. I never thought I would ever say this in my life, but I am actually looking forward to writing this paper. I am curious to know what everyone’s interpretation of what the language would be like if the book was set in 2012 and I am also curious to what my interpretation will be as well.

11/28/12-Professor Diaz-Ariana Z.

In yesterday’s seminar, we had a wonderful cinema lecture presented by Professor Diaz. I enjoy learning about cinema and love to hear about new symbols and their representation in different films, so this particular lecture enticed me. One thing I particularly preferred were the clips Professor Diaz used to provide examples for each new term. With the film The Birds I was quite intrigued by the suspense created by the classical cutting used. I have also recently discovered the ingenuity of Hitchcock films and the symbolism he has for every aspect of their mise en scene. When I get the chance I want to definitely watch this film.

In Orson Welles A Touch of Evil a long take was meant to create suspense, which it truly did for me. Compared to Citizen Kane’s low angle shots this scene showed how versatile Welles can be with his lenses and camera movement. The short film Professor Diaz showed was quite funny in the way that the setting was one place yet so many different characters entered and left the frame. At one point it even looked like the first character flew into the wall. The director used editing not for narrative purposes but for magic tricks. I seem to like the Orson Welles use of continuity editing, though, because it makes you feel more like you are one with the scene. Though most of the scene consisted a crane shot, you truly felt like you were an onlooker to the plot of the film and you were worried about when the bomb was going to go off. I also think that continuity editing gives the actors more of a challenge. It calls for less room for error and it seems to make the acting appear more real. I know that most soap operas have long shots. With a new script for every day’s episode I think that though they may not be the most famous actors they are some of the most talented.

Ultimately, I see how much film relates to recent history. By this, I mean that film can really be a time capsule of the time period they are from and create a perfect example of the time epoch of when it was created. This is evident from the transformations from black and white to hand tinted to Technicolor and now the development of three-dimensional films. The evolution from simply having music in the background to live sound also shows how much technology as well as the world has evolved.

November 28, 2012

On Wednesday, Professor Kahan invited Professor Diaz into our seminar class to give us a brief background on cinematography, and to analyze the Woody Allen film Manhattan. Professor Diaz started off discussing Mise-en-scène, and the different aspects that go into creating the great illusions on screen that we call a movie. When you think about it, a movie is really all smoke and mirrors. After all is said is done, it is only two people on a set having a conversation. If you take that scene, add some music, an awesome backdrop, cool camera angles, and the proper lighting, you have yourself a movie!

First, we started off discussing the different aspect ratios. Older films had an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, which is what most square TV and computer monitors use. (That is why you see those messages in the beginning of movies saying, “This film has been formatted to fit your screen.”) In modern years, we moved into the widescreen ratio of 1.85:1, which is the common US widescreen cinema standard. However, Manhattan was not filmed in either of those aspects. It was filmed in 2.39:1, which gave an even wider picture, and enabled you to fit more into the frame. Allen wanted to give this wider view of Manhattan, and he just couldn’t do that with 1.85:1.

Next, we moved onto angles. There are several different types of angles, including an extreme long (most of the scenes in Manhattan were filmed using this angle,) long shots to display the entire body, medium or conversational, and finally close up and extreme close up. Most TV stations use wide shots to display the two anchors sitting at the news desk, and then cut to a close up when either one of them are discussing a specific story. One of the things that I found very interesting is the “180 degree rule.” This rule states that when filming, the camera must stay on the one side of this imaginary line called the “axis of action.”

Think about this scenario. Two people are sitting across from each other at a table. When we look at the face of character 1, we look over the left shoulder of character 2. When we move to look at character 2, you have to look over character 1’s right shoulder now. Why? If you don’t follow this rule, you will confuse the viewers in terms of their orientation to the characters. Now all of a sudden, it seems that the characters are inverted. When I got home last night, I was watching a re-run of a TNT show called “Leverage.” As two characters were having a conversation at a bar, the camera angles always stayed the same in terms of their placement, except for a wide shot. It is something that seems so logical to do, yet, it is actually a camera rule. Get that.

Finally, Professor Diaz started her analysis of Manhattan. She began with the opening scene. She explained that Isaac’s (Woody Allen) monologue over the scenes of Manhattan set up the rest of the movie in terms of its themes and plot. Two major themes are the decay of morals (40 year old man dating a 17 year old, adultery, etc.) and the upper class people losing their morality.

As I was listening to Professor Diaz and replaying the movie over in my head, a great analysis came to my mind. Allen’s purpose of Manhattan was to create a tribute to 1930’s culture in Manhattan, using the old music, the black and white film, etc. Yet, he wrote in characters that are foils to this whole concept. We have Yale cheating on his wife with Mary, Isaac dating a 17 year old and later Mary at the same time, and the list goes on. One of the things that I still don’t understand is why Allen created the juxtaposing of these two time period and morals.

November 26, 2012

We started Monday’s seminar with an analysis of the music in Woody Allen’s Manhattan. Throughout most of the film, there was little music, making it quite interesting to discuss. Around 1920-1930, George Gershwin composed the opening song, “Rhapsody in Blue.” One of the things Allen wanted to do in Manhattan was pay tribute to the time period of 1930’s Manhattan, featuring classiness and morality. As I discussed in my past blog post, music was used sparingly in the movie. It was used in the opening and closing, when he is running through the city with his son, and in one or two other scenes. Leading up to the ending, as we watch Allen running to catch his love before she leaves, we hear a piece called “Sound up The Band.” As he gets closer, however, the tune changes to a slower, sadder piece, giving a strong emotional subtext. I agree with Allen’s choice to do this. It gives the audience a little bit of a heads up that maybe things might not work out in the end. In addition, that slow final piece also puts emphasis on the final line, “Everyone gets corrupted.” On Wednesday, Professor Diaz is coming into class to give a further analysis of the film.

And now, on to Catcher in the Rye. Everyone had read this book previously in his or her high school career. It is one of my favorites, second to To Kill a Mockingbird. Catcher in the Rye is a novel written from the point of view of Holden Caulfield, a 16-year-old teenager who has just been expelled from yet another boarding school. Caulfield comes from a very wealthy family. His father is a lawyer and his mother is a doctor. The story is set during a time when everyone strived for “The American Dream” of a family, a house with a white picket fence and a family dog– very cliché. Family life was very much promoted in the media and on television, where, at the end of the show, everyone’s problems were magically resolved. When this book came onto the market, it broke that whole allusion. Even today, people are still fighting to have the book banned due to its content.

The book almost reads like a journal, detailing Caulfield’s every move, what he sees, who he encounters and the conversations that he has with other characters. One of the most notable things about this novel is Caulfield’s excessive use of the word “phony.” Everyone manages to be a “phony” in his eyes, whether it is because of their actions, their opinions, etc. At one point, he even calls his own parent’s “phonies.” Holden chooses to take his teenage uneasiness in this literary form. It is very apparent that Caulfield has no respect for the money or the privilege that he has been afforded– his parents keep sending him from school to school, trying to get him educated so that he can make a successful impact on the world.