Three New Instructors Augment Undergraduate Education in Documentary Studies

Shiraz Ahmed, Yasaman Baghban and Harlan Campbell
Shiraz Ahmed, Yasaman Baghban and Harlan Campbell

Three part-time instructors have been selected to join the Center for Documentary Studies as instructors of undergraduate courses in Spring 2024.

Shiraz Ahmed

Shiraz Ahmed is a journalist and documentary filmmaker who is completing the MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts program at Duke. He has worked as a business and local news reporter in Detroit, Memphis and Houston, covering technology, social services and activism. He also volunteers as a creative and personal writing coach for high school and college students.

DOCST 135S: Introduction to Audio Documentary

Ahmed’s course covers techniques for recording and mixing audio documentaries using digital editing software. Approaches to production range from journalistic to personal. Stories may focus on societal issues such as war and peace, death and dying, or civil rights.

Yasaman Baghban

Yasaman Baghban is an Iranian-born experimental and documentary filmmaker. She earned her M.A. in Cinema Studies from Tehran University of Art. After working as a lecturer, she decided to further her education. In 2023, she graduated with an MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts from Duke. Her focus is mostly on sociopolitical issues, human rights and feminism.

DOCST 480S: Capstone Seminar in Documentary Studies

Baghban’s course immerses students in fieldwork-based inquiry and in-depth projects that serve as capstone experiences for the Certificate in Documentary Studies. Methods of documentary fieldwork, including participant observation, and modes of arts and humanities interpretation through a variety of mediums are explored.

Harlan Campbell

Harlan Campbell has been a staff member and lecturer at the Center for Documentary Studies since 2008. He serves CDS and the MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts program as a photographic arts program manager. Campbell has been a student and practitioner of photography for 30 years and likes sharing his excitement for the topic through seminars, workshops and talks.

DOCST 115S: Introduction to Black and White Photography

Campbell’s foundation course utilizes black and white film and a wet darkroom as students learn to shoot, process and print their work. The course emphasizes the documentary approach and a continual visual exploration of meaning and metaphor through regular assignments, slide lectures and critiques of student work.

About the Hiring Process

CDS Undergraduate Education Director Christopher Sims chaired the faculty hiring committee, with Research Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies Dore Bowen and Associate Professor of the Practice in the Social Science Research Institute Anne Whisnant serving alongside. Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies Edward Balleisen and Special Projects Manager Mindy Miller led support for the committee.

Finalists were invited to take part in additional 45-minute discussions about their creative work and teaching. A larger super-committee provided input. These part-time instructor faculty positions are administered by CDS in partnership with Trinity College of Arts & Sciences.

CDS Undergraduate Education

Thomas Rankin is the current director of CDS’s undergraduate education program. Undergraduates connect their educational experiences and creative expression to broader community life through documentary fieldwork projects, while they also examine the theoretical, practical and ethical issues related to this work through readings, screenings and classroom discussion.

Courses provide community-based experiences using the mediums of photography, film and video, audio, narrative writing and new media. Students may choose to complete the Certificate in Documentary Studies with a minimum of six courses and a final project.