Course Overview: Since c. 2000 a wave of “epic,” prestige television series (e.g., The Sopranos, The Wire, Game of Thrones) has been hailed as another “golden age of television” and drawn talent, in filmmakers and actors, from other corners of the media industry to an unprecedented degree. Television has long been a -- probably the -- key electronic medium for political identity and collective memory, but television – or what it is becoming – has begun to dominate prestige culture and arts as well. This class does not accept this fact as given, but rather explores the historical transformations that underpin it, especially the technological, economic, and cultural transition from broadcast to subscription and digital television. These changes have brought television’s transmediality (what one critic calls its convergence character) to the forefront, a development indicative of the impact of digital media and distribution on conventional cultural forms. Besides exploring these technological and cultural changes, other course themes include: class; ethnicity; race; violence; police ethics and brutality; gender; sexuality; US politics and identity, including the degradation of the US city; geopolitics of the world beyond US borders; representation of history and collective/prosthetic memory; the horror genre and the apparent irresistibility of the zombie genre.
Partial Reading List:
Herman Gray, “The Transformation of the Television/Social Production of Blackness”
Lotz, “Understanding Television at Beginning of the Post-Network Era”
Newman and Levine, “Another Golden Age”
Sean O’Sullivan “The Sopranos: Episodic Storytelling”
Dana Polan “HBO, The Sorpranos and Discourses of Distinction”
Mittell, “Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television”