SPCM 341 - Evaluating Contemporary Television

  • 3 credits

In this course, you are introduced to the representational, industrial, stylistic, storytelling, and audience elements of contemporary U.S. television. You will 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.

Along the way, we will learn about, screen, and discuss several excellent examples of the many economic, visual, and narrative techniques deployed in contemporary television. We will focus on the first season of four different TV shows, each with fewer than seven episodes. This will allow us to examine in-depth the stories, structures, and our evolving relationship with individual programs over an entire season, yet also afford the opportunity to compare and contrast across multiple different series.

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.


Kurt North