"Majors typically consider Comps the pinnacle of their Carleton experience. It marks the transition from student to independent scholar or artist. When graduates look back on their years at Carleton, they often think first of the anticipation and thrill of accomplishment that is Comps."
In Cinema & Media Studies, the senior integrative exercise—popularly known as “Comps”—is an independent, self-directed student project. The goal for students is to produce a work of substantial accomplishment that builds on and synthesizes their coursework in the major. While students consult with faculty and are required to meet with advisors at specific checkpoints, Comps is an opportunity to demonstrate independence, maturity and mastery as an emerging schola and/or media producer, and the capacity for self-direction appropriate to a culminating senior-year project.
Comps in Cinema & Media Studies consists of four components:
1) A 4-5 page proposal with accompanying bibliography.
2) A single major project (scholarly paper, creative media production, or a hybrid).
3) A 4-5 page methods essay that reflects on the historical, theoretical and artistic contexts for the project, with accompanying bibliography, appropriately documented (Chicago or MLA style).
4) Attendance and participation in Comps Symposium, scheduled for the third Saturday of every winter and spring term. In addition to presenting their own work, students are expected to respond to the work of their peers during Q&A.
CAMS 400: Integrative Exercise (a.k.a. Comps). Students enroll in CAMS 400 either the fall or winter term of their senior year. The workload for CAMS 400 is equivalent to that of a typical six-credit course. Passing CAMS 400 entails the successful and timely completion of all required components of Comps as listed above: the proposal, project, methods essay, and public presentation.
The Comps Proposal is 4-5 pages (double-spaced) with an accompanying bibliography listing 7-10 sources of inspiration and influence for the project (books, journal articles, films, etc.) Proposals for a collaborative project—typically from two students—may be accepted if individual contributions are substantial, continuing, and clearly delineated.
Successful Comps Proposals demonstrate preparation for the project as reflected in CAMS coursework. The objective is to insure that projects build upon a solid foundation of study and mastery. Majors are encouraged to plan ahead and enroll in courses that will give them the foundation they need to be able to propose the Comps projects they wish to do. For example, students proposing to write a scholarly paper should have taken, at minimum, CAMS 110 and a 200-level course in which they have developed the necessary skills in analysis and/or research. Students thinking to produce a moving image project should have taken, at minimum, CAMS 111 and a 200-level production course in the relevant genre (fiction, nonfiction, animation or television studio production). Students are encouraged to think creatively about their Comps topics but to avoid proposing topics that are not supported by their coursework, or, in rare cases, independent work (e.g. internships).
Scholarly papers are typically a development or furthering of a previous course paper or related topic. Recommended length for scholarly papers is 25-30 pages, double-spaced, not to exceed 35 pages.
Creative media projects are typically video/film, photography, audio and/or multi-media installation. Students proposing creative projects must understand that associated expenses for production, documentation and final submission are their own responsibility. Recommended duration for moving image projects is 5-10 minutes, with a maximum of 15 minutes. Photography, audio, installation, or similar projects will have expectations for scope clearly established in advance with faculty advisors. Projects exceeding these limits or not achieving specified scope will not be accepted.
Once the proposal is accepted, students are assigned first and second advisors. Students develop and execute their projects in consultation with their first advisors. Second advisors serve as additional evaluators at the mid-course review and final feedback meeting.
The Methods Essay is a 4-5 page (double-spaced) analysis of the historical, theoretical and artistic contexts for one’s work, and includes a bibliography of relevant sources of inspiration and influence, appropriately documented. The methods essay will differ in form and conception for varying projects. None of us works in a vacuum; we create in a continuing tradition of individuals and ideas that constitute a living conversation. Thus we benefit from placing our work in this tradition and understanding the whys and wherefores of our predecessors. Because the methods essay is meant to inform the development and unfolding of a Comps project, it should be developed early and nurtured frequently.
The Comps Symposium is held the third Saturday of winter and spring terms. It is the public forum in which students are expected to present their work and respond to the work of their peers. Each student has 20 minutes to present and 10 minutes for questions. Students enrolled in CAMS 400 in the fall present in winter term; students enrolled in the winter present in spring term. Attendance and participation in Comps Symposium is required, with the date posted in advanced. Students are expected to arrange their busy schedules to accommodate this requirement.
CAMS 400 Grades are recorded with the Registrar late spring term. Students receive a brief letter of notification from the faculty at that time, indicating that they have satisfactorily completed all requirements for Comps. Distinction in the Major may be awarded based on a combination of overall academic excellence in the Major (having a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5 in CAMS) and in all components of Comps (proposal, project, methods essay and public talk). Distinction in the Major is awarded from time to time at the discretion of the faculty.