Television Studies: Television and the American Family
45 | CCN: 14466
Location: 142 Dwinelle
Date and Time: TU, W, TH, 9-11:30am
This course introduces students to the field of television studies and focuses on developing skills in three areas: formal analysis, ideology critique, and genre study. Our first unit focuses on texts that describe and model these three areas of concern. Our second unit focuses on scholarship that brings them together in order to consider how television of the mid to late 20th century participated in the elaboration of discourses of family, identity, and economy. As we will see, much early television programming was concerned with habituating audiences to emerging ideas about American national identity and domestic life that were shaped by post-war consumer imperatives. For this reason, much of the scholarship we will follow during unit 2 asks how television participated in formulating, challenging, and refining notions of the American family in the decades that followed – paying special attention to how that family is shaped by discourses of racial formation, class, gender, and sexuality. Nevertheless, students are encouraged to pursue their own interests in designing a final project (individual or group) that either further develops or entirely departs from this area of focus. In either case, students will work together and with me to design a research program in which to ground their original readings of contemporary series of their choice – or a creative project like a video essay, television script, or filmed episode.
By the end of the semester, students should a) understand the major historical and theoretical concerns of television studies in the Department of Film & Media; b) be able to perform formal analysis of a television text, using the vocabulary of cinematography/videography, mise-en-scène, editing, and sound (including dialogue); c) be able to perform ideological analysis of a television text that demonstrates how it may be both enacting resistance to “mainstream” ideals and containing that resistance.