SPCM 341 - Evaluating Contemporary Television

  • 3 credits

In this course, you are introduced to the visual, storytelling, and industrial contexts of contemporary U.S. television. You also learn the tools to effectively understand and evaluate the texts of this dynamic medium. Television as we know it is in the midst of a transitional period wherein evolving technologies and niche programming are altering not only what we view but how we watch it. This course offers a snapshot of current issues at play during this challenging time.

While we screen different types of television shows throughout the semester, our critical focus this spring is on the first season of a remarkable drama: Friday Night Lights. Less about football than the population of the Texas town that lives and breathes it, FNL offers not only excellent examples of many of the visual and narrative techniques deployed in contemporary television, but also gives us an opportunity to examine the story structure of--and our evolving relationship with--a television show over an entire season.

Through relevant readings, close viewings of episodes, and critical analysis, we take a comprehensive look at how TV can and does function on multiple levels--as entertainment, education, as well as social and political commentary. Finally, we expand our critical vocabulary and hone our analytical skills by reading and writing about television from varied perspectives as a means to be less passive and more active media citizens.

This course can be applied towards:


Kurt North