Dr. Perdigao


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HUM 3085: Special Topics in Humanities

Television and Popular Culture

Spring 2013

Dr. Perdigao

class time: M W F 3:00 pm

office hours: M W 4:00-5:30 pm

office: 626 Crawford

phone: 321-674-8370

email: lperdiga@fit.edu

website: my.fit.edu/~lperdiga

Course Description:

In this course, we will examine how the evolution of television in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries reflects a changing American culture. We will explore how television is shaped by and helps shape American culture, from 1950s programming to twenty-first century innovative series. The contemporary series that we will study are examples of “self-conscious television,” texts that offer ideas about their own making as well as their relationship to other texts. Studying the influences of earlier series on contemporary series will help us to understand how the medium has evolved over time. Analyzing how the series play with language, plot development, character arcs, and structure, we will consider how television is redefined in the postmodern age, with the production of shows that matter—in cultural studies and to us, the viewers.

Required Texts:

Jason Mittell: Television and American Culture (Oxford UP, ISBN: 9780195306675)

Responses (7) 30%

Take-home midterm exam 30%

Final exam (Tuesday, April 30, from 8-10 am) 30%

Quizzes 10%

A response is a 1-2 page (250-500 word) analysis that answers one of the questions that I will provide on the episode. While the responses are not formal essays, you must demonstrate knowledge of the texts, discussing key issues in the series and in the critical work on television. In the responses, you will explore how the television episodes are composed, transmit certain ideas and values of the periods that they are representing, and, ultimately, reflect their cultural and historical moments. I will provide topics for the episodes during the course; you must write 7 responses.

Students are required to submit their responses and take-home midterm exam to www.turnitin.com on the assigned date; failure to submit responses and midterm exam to turnitin.com and/or to turn in the hard copy in class on the due date will lead to a failure of the assignment. Our class ID is 5930447 and the password is Shiny.
The take-home midterm exam will consist of essay questions pertaining to the required texts. It must be typed, using a standard 12-point font (about 250-300 words per page), and contain proper documentation for all works referenced.

Academic Dishonesty will be handled in accordance with Humanities and Communication Department policy. Cheating and plagiarism will result in failure of assignment and/or failure of course and will be reported to the Dean of Students and recorded in your permanent student file. Dishonest conduct may lead to formal disciplinary proceedings. Be certain that you are familiar with Florida Tech’s academic dishonesty policy (www.fit.edu/current/documents/plagiarism.pdf).
Cell phone policy: If your phone rings, if you try to make an outgoing call or text messages are sent or received (translation: basically any variation of playing with your phone when you should be paying attention), you are responsible for bringing pizza (or an acceptable alternative) to the following class.

Attendance is required. Absenteeism and tardiness will adversely affect your final grade. If you miss more than 25% of the classes, you run the risk of failing the course. You are responsible for all of the work that you miss. If you miss one of the screenings, it is your responsibility to obtain a copy of the episode and view it on your own. Since this class is not primarily a lecture course, participation is expected. Informed in-class participation demonstrates your engagement with the series and the readings and is reflected in your final grade.

Course Schedule
January 7 Introduction

January 9 Pleasantville

Reading: Mittell, Introduction: Why Television?

Elizabeth Jensen, “TV gets its PhD”


January 11 Pleasantville

Reading: Mittell, Chapter 1: Exchanging Programming
January 14 The American family on TV

Reading: Mittell, Chapter 5: Making Meaning

January 16 The

January 18 I Love Lucy and The Brady Bunch

Reading: Mittell, Chapter 6: Telling Television Stories

Response 1 due
January 21 Martin Luther King Jr. Day—no class

January 23 The Cosby Show and Diff’rent Strokes

January 25 Diversity, dysfunction, and dystopias

Reading: Mittell, Chapter 7: Screening America

January 28 Redefining the American family: Modern Family

Response 2 due

January 30 Where everybody knows your name: Cheers
, Seinfeld, and Friends

Reading: Mittell, Chapter 8: Representing Identity
February 1 Reconstituting family
February 4 Who’s the Boss?
and Community
February 6
February 8 The Dick Van Dyke Show vs. The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Response 3 due

February 11 Sex and the single girl: Sex and the City

February 13 Reading: Meredith Goldstein, “We can’t help but wonder: Why more

‘Sex,’ why now?”

February 15 All things Glee-ful

February 18 President’s Day—no class

February 20
February 22 Meta meta meta: Community (again)

Reading: Alan Sepinwall, “For ‘Community,’ how much meta is too

much?” (http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/whats-alan-watching/posts/for-community-how-much-meta-is-too-much)

Response 4 due
February 25 Forensics on TV: Law and Order, CSI, Criminal Minds, and Grimm

February 27 Reading: Mittell, Chapter 9: Viewing Television

March 1 Take-home midterm exam due

March 4 Spring Break—no class
March 6 Spring Break—no class
March 8 Spring Break—no class
March 11
March 13 The supernatural turn: The X-Files, Roswell, and all things Whedon

Response 5 due
March 15

March 18 Evading the Big Bad: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

March 20 Reading: David Lavery, “Apocalyptic Apocalypses: The Narrative

Eschatology of Buffy the Vampire Slayer


March 22 No class

March 25 Spinning Off: Angel
March 27 Reading: Roz Kaveney, “A Sense of the Ending: Schrödinger’s Angel


Response 6 due
March 29 What lies behind closed doors: Twin Peaks, Desperate Housewives,

Pretty Little Liars, and Six Feet Under

April 1 Reading: Mittell, Chapter 11: Television’s Transforming Technologies

April 3
April 5 Containment: American Horror Story and Awake

Response 7 due

April 8
April 10
April 12 Revisionism 101: Once Upon a Time and The Vampire Diaries

April 15 Response 8 due

April 17 Reading: Mittell, Conclusion: American Television in a Global Context
April 19 Rebooting: Firefly and Serenity
April 22 Reading: Stacey Abbott, “‘Can’t Stop the Signal’: The

Resurrection/Regeneration of Serenity

(online at my.fit.edu/~lperdiga)

April 24 Response 9 due

April 30 Final exam (8-10 am)


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