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.
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%
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-homemidterm 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.