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Television: Form and Content of Fictional Narratives

Semester and Year FA 2018
Course Number IDSEM-UG1981
Section 001
Instructor Karen Hornick
Days W
Time 2:00 PM - 4:45 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM


Open to juniors and seniors.


This class will approach television's visual storytelling as a unique form of narrative. Much academic study of television has focused on its social impact and ideological content, and in this seminar we will engage that work. Television can't be fully comprehended, however, without considering how the stories of television are told. Our working hypothesis is that form organizes the meanings and generates the emotions that audiences take away from stories, and so it's worthwhile to consider television as text. What genres are emerging today, and how are they connected, if at all, to classic network forms such as the sitcom and the cop show? How have dramatic, film, and literary forms shaped television storytelling, and how do we measure the impact of technological innovation and the commercial conventions unique to television? Assigned readings include writers on the problem of narrative form and content such as Aristotle, Stanley Cavell, and Roland Barthes, as well as writers on television, including Theodor Adorno, Jason Mittell, Linda Williams, John Sconce, Jane Feuer, Emily Nussbaum, Clive James, and various internet recappers. We will focus on examples of American network genres such as the situation comedy, nighttime soap, and police shows and new "cable classics" (probably episodes of  The Sopranos, The Wire,  and  Mad Men , and  Game of Thrones).  


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)