Lori Morimoto Explores The Art of the Video Essay

In the age of YouTube, video essays are an increasingly popular and accessible form of media criticism, explored and analyzed in podcasts and academic workshops, and produced by practitioners ranging from professional editors to fans. According to Lori Morimoto, Assistant Professor of Media Studies and General Faculty, the video essay need not read as a formal essay or have a voice-over. It should, however, engage critically with media, which sometimes happens in unexpected ways.

This past fall, Morimoto introduced The Art of the Video Essay, a course designed to help students hone the skills needed to communicate in audiovisual form. Structured through various video editing exercises inspired by Jason Mittell, students were familiarized with video editing software as they learned how to compile clips, mix sounds, and add voice-overs. As a capstone to the course, students were given creative freedom to form their own unique arguments in three- to five-minute video essays. 

Adrian Alora, a second-year planning to major in Media Studies (‘24), explored how the chopped and screwed music in Moonlight (2016) depicted the main character Chiron‘s conformity to societal norms of heterosexality and masculinity. Meanwhile, Anna Rogers (‘25), utilized a split screen with clips from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Midsommar to capture the relationship between the individual and society and highlight the psychological manipulation of the characters. This semester, Morimoto is teaching her students the basics of video editing and incorporating video essays into her course, Hannibal as Counter-Quality TV