21L.432 Understanding Television

Spring 2003

Cartoon image of professor at blackboard: 'Lucy 101.'
A cartoon drawing of Professor Thorburn teaching 21L.432. (Image courtesy of Lilly Kam.)

Course Highlights

This course features exemplary video. The viewing list of representative programs distills a mini-history of prime time TV.

Course Description

The subtitle of this course for the spring 2003 term is "American Television: A Cultural History." The class takes a cultural approach to television's evolution as a technology and system of representation, considering television as a system of storytelling and myth-making, and as a cultural practice, studied from anthropological, literary, and cinematic perspectives. The course focuses on prime-time commercial broadcasting, the medium's technological and economic history, and theoretical perspectives. There is much required viewing as well as readings in media theory and cultural interpretation.

Special Features

Technical Requirements

Special software is required to use some of the files in this course: .rm.

*Some translations represent previous versions of courses.

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Prof. David Thorburn

Course Meeting Times

Two sessions / week
1.5 hours / session