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Writing about Television Drama

Semester and Year FA 2017
Course Number WRTNG-UG1506
Section 001
Instructor Saul Austerlitz
Days M
Time 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Units 4
Level U



The past two decades have seen television transform itself from a much-belittled outgrowth of the film industry, the “boob tube” of yore, into the most consistently exciting and rewarding source for intellectually rigorous, emotionally compelling popular culture in American life. Television has largely supplanted film as the go-to source for engrossing, adult narratives, and for boundary-pushing storytelling. This course will offer students the opportunity to burnish their writing skills while studying the evolution of the television drama since 1990. Over the course of the semester, students will watch groundbreaking series like  The Sopranos ,  The Wire , and  UnREAL , and write about the variety of narrative and aesthetic styles endemic to Golden Age television, grappling with questions of gender, sexuality, race, and American identity central to many of these shows. In working on our writing, we will look at everything from recaps to reviews to narrative histories in order to grasp the wide range of quality writing on television. Writing assignments will ask students to analyze the antihero figure exemplified by the likes of Tony Soprano, as well as series like  Orange Is the New Black  that sought to break out of that now-familiar mold. Written work will allow students to try their hand at close analysis of television episodes, along with broader overviews of the arc of a series’ entire run. Readings will include essays by Emily Nussbaum, Alan Sepinwall, Brett Martin, Roxane Gay, David Simon, Clive James, Ariel Levy, D.T. Max, James Poniewozik, Lee Siegel, and others.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Advanced Writing Courses (WRTNG-UG)