This semester I am revamping my Intro to Global Animation syllabus. I decided to reduce the reading load because I want students to have more time in practice-based activities. This is also the first time I will try to use a professional stop motion animation software, Dragonframe, for their animation project. Hopefully it will go smoothly.

I also would like to credit Mihaela Mihailova’s “An Anti-Racist Animation Syllabus” for listing animated features and shorts with protagonists of color and/or directed by PoC. Many of the films I use in my course are selected from her list.

Below is my updated syllabus. Leave comments if you have any suggestions as I may still be able to change some of the contents of the course schedule.

Course Description

This course will start with a series of questions:

  • What is animation?
  • How can we discuss animation as an artistic medium and as a cultural expression?
  • How can we understand the global history of animation and its connection to contemporary society?

To answer these questions, we will explore the production, distribution, and consumption of animation as a global phenomenon. Throughout the course, we will consider how animation is a distinctive form of expression within moving-image practice and created in many diverse forms and techniques; how local, national, and transnational contexts contribute to its extensive history worldwide; and how it has become a versatile medium for social, cultural, and political expressions. We will also consider the role of new technologies in the development of animation beyond filmic space (e.g. video games). Through the integration of basic animation production-based exercises (e.g. plasticine, cut-out, pixilation, and hand-drawn animation), visual analyses, and writing assignments, this course will help to cement insights gained through close investigation of various animated media productions. While this course substantially focuses on the practice of animation, no technical knowledge about it is required.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the semester, students will have developed:

  • The knowledge of key animation vocabularies, theories, and techniques within their global, social, cultural, and historical contexts.
  • The ability to apply their knowledge critically and creatively in basic animation production skills, both individually or in collaboration with other student scholars
  • The proficiency in analyzing animation critically in both visual and written formats.
  • The ability to conduct animation studies research using appropriate research strategies
  • The ability to reflect on the interrelationships between their personal encounters with animated media and the global complexity of animation cultures

Evaluation Components

  • Preparation and Participation (10%)
  • Discussion leader (10%)
  • Animation exercises (20%)
  • Animation analysis (10%)
  • Animation festival assignment (10%)
  • Individual animation project (20%)
  • Collaborative animation project (20%)

Course Requirements and Responsibilities

Preparation and Participation (10%):

Class participation is an important element in this course. You will be expected to make quality contribution to class discussion and other aspects of the course. I like to think of our class as a laboratory where we test ideas, take intellectual chances, push ourselves and each other, and support one another as we learn.

You are expected to be well-prepared (meaning: read all the compulsory readings, watch required screenings, play assigned games, and prepare all assignments) and contribute actively to the discussions in the course in a relevant way. Your grade for preparation and participation will reflect your preparation for class, attendance, and participation during individual and group activities, as well as contribution to class discussions. That said, you should not be afraid of making mistakes or working out ideas that you are not sure of. We are all here to learn. I acknowledge these expectations can be daunting for introverted students. If that describes you, we can work out an alternative way to assess your participation. I will give you feedback about how you are doing through office hours and midterm review/recess meetings.

Attendance is part of preparation and participation. Unless you are absent because of sickness or quarantine orders, or religious observance, attendance is mandatory for this class. Students who miss more than two classes without acceptable excuses will receive a 5% deduction from their overall grade. Students who miss more than four classes without adequate excuses will receive a 10% deduction. Students who miss more than five classes without acceptable excuses will fail the course. Students who need special accommodation in this regard should contact me to discuss alternative arrangements and assignments.
You will receive a midterm progress report with an unofficial grade for your “preparation and participation” and suggestions (if necessary) for engaging more fully in our class.

Leading a Discussion (10%)

Starting on Week 2, each student will be asked to lead a class discussion through close reading of select sections of the materials. A class session will usually have two discussion leaders, who may divide the responsibility of leading the discussion. Each student will only lead a class discussion once throughout the semester. Details about this assignment will be explained in class.

Animation exercises (20%):

Throughout the semester, students will complete a variety of short animation exercises. It will range from practicing frame rates, practicing with a variety of animation techniques (plasticine, cut out, pixilation, and hand-drawn animation), writing animation treatment and storyboard, and various other short assignments. These exercises are intended to prepare students for their individual and collaborative stop motion projects. Details about each assignment will be provided in class.

Animation Analysis (10%):

Towards the end of the semester you will complete a 3-5 minute screencast video, or a written paper analyzing an animated film of your own choice. Detailed instructions about this assignment will be distributed in class.

Individual Animation Project (20%):

Students will work individually to create a 30-60 second stop motion animation. Students will choose their own topic/story/technique for this project. Details about this assignment will be provided in class.

Collaborative Animation Project (20%):

Starting in the middle of the semester, we are going to do a collaborative project to create a longer stop motion animation. Details about this assignment will be provided in class.

Animation Festival Assignment (10%)

At the end of the semester, students will be asked to imagine themselves as a curator of a global animation film festival and come up with a curated list of 3-5 animated films for the festival in the most creative way possible. Details about this assignment will be provided in class.

Course Schedule:

* * * Please note that this syllabus is not a static document and the course schedule is subject to change. All changes will be posted to Canvas in advance and announced through email. Readings and screenings are to be completed for the date under which they are listed

18/29Introduction: What do we talk when we talk about animation?Welcome, course organization, and syllabus reviewWatch in class:The Owl Who Married a Goose” (Leaf,1974) “Blinkity Blank” (McLaren, 1955)

Husbands and Ruddell, “Approaching Animation and Animation Studies” 

Stop motion workshop 1 (frame rates, animating on 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s)
Watch before class: Oni (The Demon)” (Kawamoto, 1972) “12 Principles of Animation” (AlanBeckerTutorials, 2017)
29/5Tracing Histories
Furniss, “Setting the Scene for Animation”  Gunning, “The Cinema of Attractions” 
Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class:Pauvre Pierrot” (1892) “A Trip to the Moon” (Méliès, 1902)


Stop motion workshop 2 (handdrawn stop motion)
# animation exercise 1 due
Watch before class: The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Reiniger, 1926)
39/12Realism and the Uncanny ValleyMihailova, “Realism and Animation” Bode, “The Uncanny Valley”
Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class:  The Lion King (Favreau, 2019)


Stop motion workshop 3 (plasticine)
# animation exercise 2 due
Watch before class:  Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (Nozue, 2016)
49/19Memory and/in AnimationWalden, “Animation and Memory” Gibride, “Perceiving Persepolis” 
Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class: Persepolis (Satrapi and Paronnaud, 2007)

Stop motion workshop 4 (cutout)
# animation exercise 3 due
Watch before class: Funan (Do, 2018)
59/26Animation and DocumentationRoe, “Absence, Excess, and Epistemological Expansion” Sofian, “Creative Challenges in the Production of Documentary Animation”
Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class: Waltz With Bashir (Folman, 2008)

Stop motion workshop 5 (Pixilation)
# animation exercise 4 due
Watch before class: Flee (Rasmussen, 2021)
610/3Animated Representations
Sammond, “Race, Resistance and Violence in Cartoons” Hassen, “Race and Identity and the Celebration of Black Excellence

Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class: Trader Mickey(Gillett and Hand,1932) Jay-Z, “The Story of O.J.” (Romanek and Jay-Z, 2017)


Stop motion workshop 6 (animation treatment)
# animation exercise 5 due
Watch before class: The Boondocks, S01E01 and E03 (McGruder, 2005)
710/10Fall RecessNo Class

10/12Experimentation and SurrealismTaberhman, “Experimental Animation” Ivins-Hulley, “A Universe of Boundaries” 
Stop motion workshop 7 (character design)
# pre-production assignment 1 due
Watch before class:Kebab World (Theobald, 2014) A Colour Box” (Lye,1935)  FoodSvankmajer, 1992)
810/17Anime: Bodies and FormsDenison, “Anime’s Bodies” Bolton, “From Ground Zero to Degree Zero
Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class: Ranma 1/2, Season1, Ep. 1 Sailor Moon, Season 1, Ep. 1

Stop motion workshop 8 (Animation scriptwriting)
# pre-production assignment 2 due
Watch before class:Akira (Otomo, 1988)
910/24Animation and National IdentityWhyke, Mugica, Brown, “Contemporizing the National Style in Chinese Animation” Arps, “An Animated Revolution”
Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class: Nezha (Jiaozi, 2019)


Stop motion workshop 9 (Animation storyboarding)
# pre-production assignment 3 due
Watch before class:Battle of Surabaya (Yuniawan, 2015)
1010/31Gendering AnimationDavis, “Women in Disney’s Animated Features 1989-2005” Perea, “Gender and Cartoons from Theaters to Television”
Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class:The Princess and the Frog (Clements and Musker, 2009)


Stop motion workshop 10 (Dragonframe)
# pre-production assignment 4 due
Watch before class:Tehran Taboo (Soozandeh)
1111/7Animated IndigeneityVellino, “Intervening in Settler Colonial Genocide”  Robinson, “People are Finally Listening
Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class: – “Four Faces of the Moon” (Strong, 2016)


Projects’ update 1
Watch before class:Etaspe Komuy” (Ishiguro, 2016) “Mah Meri Stories” (Mustaffa/Santano)
1211/14Animated Nature/EcologyGossin, “Animated Nature” Donsomsakulkij, “Spirited Away”
Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class:Spirited Away (Miyazaki, 2001)


Projects’ update 2
Watch before class:Boy and the World (Abreu, 2013)
Amon, “Candy Coloured Ponies and Pastel Uniforms” Condry, “Love Revolution”  
Discussion leaders (2 students)
* Animation analysis due
Watch before class: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Season 1, Ep. 1, also available on Netflix Genshiken, Season 1, Ep. 1

11/23November RecessNo Class
1411/28Beyond Filmic FramePallant, “Video Games and Animation” Bowman, “Playing Around with Studio Ghibli
Discussion leaders (2 students)


Projects’ update 3
** Animation festival assignment due

1512/5The end is the beginningTBA


*** Individual assignment due

Collaborative project showcase****Collaborative assignment due Tuesday, Dec 12: 8.30-11.30am

+ late or missed assignments must be turned in by this date with no exceptions