Courses I Regularly Teach:
FS 203 Television from Broadcasting to Screen Cultures
Many people argue that television has been “revolutionized” in an age of technological convergence and streaming services. Yet there remains continuity amidst the radical shifts within the television industries. This course introduces students to the history of television broadcasting and the transition to a post-network era. It also provides an overview of the foundational theories of television criticism and issues of representation of race, gender, class and sexuality in televisual storytelling.
FS 340 Making Television: Production Cultures
A complex series of negotiations and struggles among competing interests lies behind the half-hour comedies and one-hour dramas that continue to dominate the television landscape. This course explores the cultural and industrial dimensions of the “conventional wisdoms” that television professionals rely on in an increasingly competitive industry. Topics include: casting decisions, studio expectations, formulas/genres, target audiences, channel branding, marketing and promotion, the rise of the show-runner, and the culture of the writers’ room.
FS 341 Television Genres
Genres are categories that structure the narrative dimensions and audience expectations of any television series. These categories provide both constraints and opportunities for TV showrunners. This course analyzes the aesthetic and socio-cultural implications of various TV genres. Three to four of the following genres will be covered in alternating semesters: comedy (both multi-camera and single-camera), crime procedurals, sci-fi/fantasy, dramas, anthology series, soap operas, “dramedy,” historical fiction, action-adventure, thriller/mystery, animation, “art television,” and reality TV.
FS 415 Global Television and Screen Cultures
Classical theories of international television and movie distribution tended to focus on assumptions of Hollywood’s dominance over global audience markets. However, our contemporary media environment is marked by multi-directional flows of popular entertainment that contradict “cultural imperialism” arguments. This course focuses on theories of cultural globalization as they apply to television and new screen cultures. Topics include global TV formats, domestic adaptations, transnational co-productions, and the increasing importance of diasporic audiences.
FS 416 Analyzing Television
Television was once referred to as a “cultural forum” in which producers would develop stories that incorporated aspects of the prevailing, and competing, social ideologies of the times based on expectations of audiences tuning into the same two or three networks daily. Today’s audiences are increasingly fragmented across an exponentially growing number of channels and streaming platforms that seem to cater to niche interests. Yet TV, wherever we may find it, is still seen to have an “ideological” dimension in how it selectively represents our cultural worlds. This course focuses on the central theories of television criticism through applied analysis of genre, spectatorship, aesthetics, and narrative frameworks in TV storytelling. Specific attention is given to the ways that the art-commerce divide in the creative process frames particular discourses of gender, ethnicity, class and sexuality.