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MA3064 Television Histories

Tutor: Dr JP Kelly

Teaching: 20 hours lecture, 20 hours seminar plus individual tutorials

Value: 1

Availability: Autumn and Spring

Course Overview:

 

This course takes an historical approach to the analysis of television programmes.  It asks how and why television has changed historically, and introduces some of the various ways in which television’s history has been written.  Furthermore, you will learn how to critique these approaches and will explore the assumptions behind certain versions of television’s historical development.  By the end of the course you will have gained a greater knowledge of the historical development of television, and you will also be able to think critically about the current changes to contemporary television.  As such, the course will not simply focus on increasing your knowledge of ‘old’ television, but will relate these debates to contemporary television in order to explore how the history of the medium shapes the ways in which we understand it in the present.

The first term of the course begins by asking what history is, how history might be written, and how we might go about understanding the past. It then looks at the various ways in which television can be situated into these debates, both as documents of the past, and as programmes that contribute to our understanding of the past. Here we will ask what impact television has on our understanding of the world, past and present. The course then goes on to explore these debates about how history is written by looking at the history of British television, focusing on the 1950s to the 1980s.

In the second term, the course examines the history of US television focusing on the historical development of ‘quality’ television and situating it within the institutional history of US television, and examining the impact of new digital media on the television industry in both the US and the UK.

Teaching:

This course is taught by weekly 3-hour seminars. You are expected to make a contribution to all seminars. This is the time for you to try out ideas and to develop your skills of communication. You should also use this time to develop your skills of public speaking – skills that will be invaluable when you leave Royal Holloway and throw yourselves at the mercy of the job market! Seminars will include compulsory weekly screenings of 1-2 hours. In addition to formal classes, this course includes reading weeks and essay tutorial weeks. Reading weeks are not weeks off, but are chances for you to catch up with your reading and viewing, to look over the week’s readings and to undertake your own independent research. This course is designed so that the debates run across the course as a whole, rather than existing independently each week. As a consequence it is important that you grasp the ideas that are being explored from week to week, and that you think about the links between them. So the reading week is a chance for you to do this – look back over what we have done and think about how the different debates might relate to each other.

Attendance:

Attendance at seminars is compulsory. Attendance will be recorded each week, and failure to attend at least 70% without prior consultation or reasonable cause may result in you failing the course. Reasonable cause may include (but is not limited to): illness, family circumstances, transportation difficulties, acts of God, the Apocalypse, etc. Leave of absence on medical or other grounds can only be granted by the Head of Department, Susanna Capon, and only on production of appropriate written evidence (doctor’s/therapist’s letter, etc.).

If there is an ongoing problem which is persistently affecting your ability to do your work, you should let your personal advisor know as soon as you become aware of it, so that we can make suitable provision. Don’t just let things slide and assume that you can make up the attendance later with no questions asked.

Readings:

Each week’s topic is accompanied by 1 or 2 designated readings in the Course Pack, which will form the basis for seminar presentations and class discussion. Purchase of the Course Pack is a prerequisite for enrolment in the course and weekly readings are compulsory.

Students who arrive at a seminar without having read the weekly reading will be asked to lave and an unexcused absence will be recorded against their name for that session.

Seminar Presentations:

10% of your overall mark for this course will be based on your seminar presentations.  You will be asked to give a pre-prepared formal presentation for one week of the course. You will be assessed both on the quality of the content of your presentation and on the quality of your oral presentation skills. In terms of the style of your presentation, you can be as creative as possible, but the presentation should demonstrate an engagement with the reading(s) and screening(s) for that week. A guide to seminar presentations is included in this course pack.

Assessment:

 

 

Seminar Presentations: 10%.

 

Two 4-5,000 word essays: 90% (45% each)

 

You may incorporate work from your seminar presentations in your essays. I will be available to discuss your ideas, essay structure, secondary reading, etc. in essay tutorials scheduled over the course.

Essays should be typed, double-spaced, and in all other regards conform to the style sheet included in the Student’s Handbook. Please read this and the guidelines for referencing as marks will be deducted for poor presentation, grammar and referencing.

If an essay is submitted up to 24 hours late, the mark will be reduced by 10%, subject to a minimum mark of a minimum Pass. For essays submitted more that 24 hours late, the maximum mark will be zero.

Extensions can only be granted by the Head of Department, Susanna Capon, and only on production of appropriate written explanation (doctor’s letter, etc.). Neither I nor your personal advisor can grant them.

Plagiarism:

Plagiarism is defined as stealing another’s work (written or oral) and passing it off as your own, whether this is another student, a published author, or an Internet site, and whether it is with their permission or not.  It is basically a form of cheating.  Plagiarism is not tolerated at Royal Holloway and carries the strictest penalties.

 

You should take careful note of the regulations regarding plagiarism included with each list of essay questions. As you ought to know by now, plagiarism is a serious offence which will not be treated lightly and which can seriously affect your marks and even delay the award of your degree. If we suspect that work submitted is plagiarised we will immediately refer the issue to the College authorities for further action.

If you have any doubts about what constitutes plagiarism, err on the side of caution or (even better) ask. There are also extensive examples in your Student Handbook. If you are caught plagiarising this will be indicated in all future references provided by the University (e.g. for job applications).

 

So much for all the heavy administrative stuff. Please feel free to ask me any other organisation, curricular or even intellectual questions that might occur to you as the year goes on.

Enjoy the course!

Course Outline

 

Autumn Term: British Television, History and Historiography

In this first term we will explore some of the debates about history and historiography (the writing of history). We will then go on to examine how television programmes can be understood as contributing to history, both as historical documents and as texts that propose to tell us about the past. Finally we will look at different historical accounts of British television from the 1950s and 1980s and consider the historiographic issues involved in writing television’s history.

Week 1: What is History?

How do we make sense of the past? What is the role of the historian? What are the issues in undertaking historical study?

 

Reading:

  • Carr, E. H., ‘The Historian and His Facts’, What is History?, 2nd ed., London: Penguin, 1990 (1961). 

Screening:

Auntie: the Inside Story of the BBC, 1945-1960 (BBC, 1997)

 

 

Further Reading:

Allen, Robert C. and Gomery, Douglas, Chapter 1, Film History: Theory and Practice, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1985.

Jenkins, Keith, ‘History Today’, On “What is History?”, London and New York: Routledge, 1995.

Cannadine, David (ed.), What is History Now?, Hampshire: Palgrave, 2002.

Marwick, Arthur, The New Nature of History, Hampshire: Palgrave: 2001.

 

Week 2: What is Media History?

This week we will continue to think about historiography, and will be introduced to some of the issues in studying media history.

 

Reading:

  • Allen, Robert C. and Gomery, Douglas, Chapter 1, Film History: Theory and Practice, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1985.
  • Wheatley, Helen, ‘Introduction: Re-viewing television histories’, in Helen Wheatley (ed.), Re-viewing Television History: Critical issues in television historiography, London and New York: I.B.Tauris, 2007.

 

Screening:

Imagine (BBC, 2007)

 

 

Further Reading:

Branston, Gill, ‘Histories of British Television’, in Christine Geraghty and David Lusted (eds.), The Television Studies Book, London: Arnold, 1998, pp.93-113.

Corner, John, ‘Finding data, reading patterns, telling stories: issues in the historiography of television’, Media, Culture and Society, 25(2), 2002pp.273-80.

Lavey, Stephen, ‘Some Thoughts on Television History and Historiography: A British Perspective’, Critical Studies in Television, 1(1), 2006.

Seaton, Jean, ‘Writing the history of broadcasting’, in David Cannadine (ed.), History and the Media, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Special issue on Television History, European Journal of Cultural Studies, 10(1), 1997.

Week 3: Television as History 1

This week we will move from thinking about how media history is written to exploring how television contributes to our understanding of the past by looking at an example of the historical television documentary.

 

Reading:

  • Champion, Justin, ‘Screen Histories. Seeing the Past: Simon Schama’s “A History of Britain” and Public History’, Historical Workshop Journal, Issue 56, 2003.

 

Screening:

A History of Britain (BBC, 2000-1)

 

 

Further Reading:

Bell, Erin and Gray, Ann, ‘History on television’, in Helen Wheatley (ed.), Re-viewing Television History: Critical issues in television historiography, London and New York: I.B.Tauris, 2007.

Eitzen, D., ‘Against the Ivory Tower: an apologia for “popular” historical documentaries’, in A. Rosenthal and J. Corner (eds.), New Challenges for Documentary, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005.

Graham Roberts and Philip M. Taylor (eds.), The Historian, Television and Television History, Luton: Uni of Luton Press, 2001.

Schama, Simon, ‘Television and the trouble with history’, in David Cannadine (ed.), History and the Media, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004

(there are a number of essays in this edited collection on television’s representation of history and I would recommend that you read them all if you write on this topic).

Week 4: Television as History 2

This week we will continue to think about how television represents history by examining two different ways in which the Western Front has been represented in British television, looking at a sitcom and a ‘historical reconstruction’ series.

 

Reading:

  • Badsey, Stephen, ‘Blackadder Goes Forth and the ‘Two western fronts’ debate’, in Graham Roberts and Philip M. Taylor (eds.), The Historian, Television and Television History, Luton: Uni of Luton Press, 2001.
  • Sheffield, G.D., ‘“Oh! What a Futile War”: Representations of the Western Front in Modern British Media and Popular Culture’, in Ian Stewart and Susan I. Carruthers (eds.), War, Culture and the Media, Trowbridge: Flick Books, 1996.

 

Screening:

Blackadder Goes Forth, final episode (BBC, 1989)

The Trench, episode 1 (BBC, 2002)

 

 

Further Reading:

In addition to those mentions for week 4, look at:

Johnson, Douglas, ‘TV images of war’, New Society, 31 January 1974, p.267.

 

Week 5: Instant History?

How does television construct certain events as significant moments in social history?

Reading:

  • Hoskins, Andrew, ‘New Memory: Mediating History’, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television’, 21(4), 2001, pp.333-346.
  • Turnock, Robert, Chapter 3: ‘The Grieving Masses’, Interpreting Diana: Television Audiences and the Death of a Princess, London: BFI, 2000.

 

Screening:

Excerpts from the television coverage of the death and funeral of Princess Diana.

 

 

Further Reading:

Dayan, Daniel and Katz, Elihu, ‘Political Ceremony and Instant History’, in Anthony Smith (ed.), Television: An International History, 2nd edition, Oxford: OUP, 1998, pp. 97-106.

Dayan, Daniel and Katz, Elihu, Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992.

Marriott, Stephanie, ‘The BBC, ITN and the Funeral of Princess Diana’, Media History, 13(1), April 2007.

Marriott, Stephanie, Live Television: Time, Space and the Broadcast Event, LA and London: Sage, 2007.

Merck, Mandy (ed.), After Diana, London and New York: Verso, 1998.

Thomas, James, Diana’s Mourning: A People’s History, Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2002.

 

 

British Television: from Monopoly to Duopoly and Beyond

In the second half of this term we will take the debates about how history is written and apply them to the ways in which the history of television has been written. We will start by looking at different ways of approaching the history of British television from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Week 6: Television Drama in the 1950s

This week you will be introduced to television drama in Britain in the 1950s, at a time when television drama production was largely live.

Reading:

  • Jacobs, Jason, Chapter 4: ‘“Lost Not Cosy”: Expanding the Screen of Television Drama, 1951-55’, The Intimate Screen: Early British Television Drama, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, pp.109-155.
  • Johnson, Catherine, ‘Exploiting the Intimate Screen: The Quatermass Experiment, fantasy and the aesthetic potential of early television drama’, in Janet Thumim (ed.), Small Screens, Big Ideas: Television in the 1950s, London: I.B.Tauris, 2002.

 

Screening:

Extracts from:

The Quatermass Experiment (BBC, 1953)

Quatermass II (BBC, 1955)

Quatermass and the Pit (BBC, 1957-8)

1984 (BBC, 1954)

 

 

Further Reading:

Barr, Charles, ‘“They Think It’s All Over”: The Dramatic Legacy of Live Television’, in Hill and McLoone (eds.), Big Picture, Small Screen: The Relations Between Film and Television , Luton: Uni of Luton Press, 1997.

Caughie, John, ‘Before the Golden Age: Early Television Drama’, in John Corner (ed.), Popular Television in Britain: Studies in Cultural History, London: BFI, 1991.

Johnson, Catherine, Telefantasy, London: BFI, 2005.

Kneale, Nigel, ‘Not Quite So Intimate’, Sight and Sound, 28(2), 1959, pp.86-88.

Cartier, Rudolph. 1958. ‘A Foot in Both Camps’,Films and Filming, Sept., pp.10, 31.

Week 7: The Golden Age

This week we will look at how British television developed over the 1960s, and the arguments that the 1960s marked a Golden Age of British television.

 

Reading:

  • Caughie, John, ‘The Rush of the Real’, Television Drama: Realism, Modernism and British Culture, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

 

Screening:

Up the Junction (BBC, 1965)

 

 

Further Reading:

Cooke, Lez, British Television Drama: A History, London: BFI, 2003.

Caughie, John, Chapter 3, Television Drama: Realism, Modernism and British Culture, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Macmurraugh-Kavanagh, M.K. ‘‘Drama’ into ‘News’: Strategies of Intervention in ‘The Wednesday Play’’. Screen 38(3), 1997, pp.247-59.

Macmurraugh-Kavanagh, M.K. ‘The BBC and the Birth of “The Wednesday Play”, 1962-66: Institutional Containment versus “Agitational Contemporaneity”’,Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 17(3), 1997, pp.367-381.

Brandt, George (ed.), British Television Drama, Cambridge: CUP, 1981.

Martin, Troy Kennedy, ‘Nats Go Home: First Statement of a New Drama for Television’ reprinted under the collective title, ‘Television Drama – Is This the Way Ahead?’, Screenwriter, 15, 1964, pp.18-25.

Leigh, Jacob, The Cinema of Ken Loach, London: Wallflower, 2002.

Turnock, Rob, Television and Consumer Culture, London: I.B.Tauris, 2007

 

 

Further Viewing:

Cathy Come Home (BBC, 1966)

Week 8: Alternatives to the Golden Age

Accounts of the Golden Age of British television tend to focus on BBC drama at the expense of ITV drama. In what ways might ITV drama of the 1960s be seen as contributing to the Golden Age?

 

 

Reading:

Johnson, Catherine, ‘Serious Entertainment’, Telefantasy, London: BFI, 2005.

 

 

Screening:

The Prisoner (ITV, 1967-8)

 

 

Further Reading:

Aldgate, Anthony; Chapman, James; and Marwick Arthur (eds.). 2000.

Windows on the Sixties: Exploring Key Texts of Media and Culture, London: I.B.Tauris.

Buxton, David. 1990.From The Avengers to Miami Vice: Form and Ideology in Television Series  , Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Chapman, James, Saints and Avengers: British Adventure Series of the 1960s, London: I.B.Tauris, 2002.

Johnson, Catherine and Turnock, Rob (eds.), ITV Cultures, Open UP: Berkshire, 2005.

 

 

Further Viewing:

The Avengers (ITV, 1961-69)

Week 9: Politics, History and Television Drama in the 1970s

This week we will consider the ways in which British television drama of the 1970s attempted to engage with the politics of the period, focusing on the

Play for Today drama, ‘The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil’. In doing so we will also return to the issues from the first half of the course about the representation of history on television.

 

Reading:

  • Cooke, Lez, Chapter 4, British Television Drama: A History, London: BFI, 2003. In particular please read his case study on ‘The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil’.

 

Screening:

The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil (BBC, 1974)

 

 

Further Viewing:

Days of Hope (BBC, 1975)

 

 

Further Reading:

MacCabe, Colin, ‘Realism and the cinema: notes on some Brechtian theses’, Screen, 15(2), 1974, pp.7-27.

McArthur, Colin, ‘Days of Hope’, Screen, 16(4), 1975/6, pp.138-44.

MacCabe, Colin, ‘Days of Hope: a response to Colin McArthur’, Screen, 17(1), 1976, pp.98-101.

McArthur’s article on Days of Hope, and both of MacCabe’s responses are in Bennett et al. (eds.), Popular Television and Film: A Reader, London: Open University/BFI, 1981.

Martin, Troy Kennedy, ‘Nats Go Home: First Statement of a New Drama for Television’ reprinted under the collective title, ‘Television Drama – Is This the Way Ahead?’, Screenwriter, 15, 1964, pp.18-25.

Week 10: The Development of Television Drama from the 1980s

Special guest lecture – Jonathan Powell

Jonathan Powell has an extensive and influential career in British television, starting at Granada before moving to the BBC. At the BBC, Jonathan was involved in a number of high profile adaptations of literary classics and went on to become Head of Drama where he was responsible for the launch of

Eastenders and Causualty, as well as Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective and Troy Kennedy Martin’s Edge of Darkness, before becoming Controller of BBC1 and later working for Carlton TV. Drawing primarily on his experience at the BBC and his own research on television in the 1980s, Jonathan Powell will be looking at the development of British television drama over the 1980s, exploring the rise of the series, and the effect of competition on the forms of drama that are produced for television.

 

 

Reading and Screening: TBA

The reading will be provided for you in advance of the seminar.

Week 11: Essay Tutorials

In this week you will be required to attend an essay tutorial to get advice and guidance on approaching your first essay. Please come to the tutorial with an outline of how you intend to approach the essay question. These essay tutorials are compulsory and count towards you attendance on the course

Term 2:

 

This term we will look at the history of US television, focusing on the history of television fiction in the US, focusing in particular on the arguments about the development of quality television in the US television, before ending with an exploration of the current changes to US and UK television.

NB: The further reading listed for each week will also be relevant for other weeks covered on the course. In particular, there is cross over for the  further reading for weeks 1-5, and for the further reading for weeks 7-10.

Week 1: The ‘Golden Age’: US Television in the 1950s

We begin this term with an introduction to US television in the 1950s looking at the live plays that formed the basis of the ‘Golden Age’ of US television.

 

Reading:

  • Mittell, Jason, ‘The “Classic Network System” in the US’, in Michelle Hilmes (ed.), The Television History Book, London: BFI, 2003.
  • Barnouw, Eric, Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975, pp.151-167.

 

Screening:

Marty (NBC, 1953)

 

 

Further Reading:

Anderson, Christopher, Hollywood TV: The Studio System in the Fifties, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.

Balio, Tino (ed.), Hollywood in the Age of Television, Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1990.

Barnouw, Eric, Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975.

Baughman, James L., Television’s Guardians: The FCC and the Politics of Programming, 1958-1967, Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1985.

Boddy, William, ‘The Seven Dwarfs and the Money Grubbers: The Public Relations Crisis of US Television in the Late 1950s’, in Patricia Mellencamp (ed.), Logics of Television, London: BFI, 1990.

Boddy, William, Fifties Television: The Industry and its Critics, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990.

Brown, Les, ‘The American Networks’, in Anthony Smith (ed.), Television: An International History, 2nd edition, Oxford: OUP, 1998.

Hilmes, Michele (ed.), NBC: America’s Network, California: University of California Press, 2007

 

 

Further Viewing:

$64,000 Dollar Question (CBS, 1955-58)

Requiem for a Heavyweight (CBS, 1956)

The Comedian (CBS, 1957)

Week 2: US Television’s ‘Vast Wasteland’

While the 1960s has been characterised as a ‘Golden Age’ of British television, in the US it was a period of television drama infamously critiqued as a ‘vast wasteland’ by President of the FCC, Newton Minow. This week we will examine Minow’s criticisms and look at attempts to challenge this characterisation of this period of US television’s past.

 

Reading:

  • Minow, Newton, ‘The “Vast Wasteland”: Address by Newton N. Minow to the National Association of Broadcasters, Washington, D.C., May 9th 1967’, in Frank J. Kahn (ed.), Documents of American Broadcasting, 4th edition, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1984.
  • Newcomb, Horace, ‘From Old Frontier to New Frontier’, in Lynn Spigel and Michael Curtin (eds.), The Revolution Wasn’t Televised: Sixties Television and Social Conflict, London: Routledge, 1997.

 

Screening:

Bonanza (NBC, 1959-73), ‘Day of Reckoning’

 

 

Further Reading

In addition to the overview books listed for week 2, look at:

Alvey, Mark, ‘The Independents: Rethinking the Television Studio System’, in Horace Newcomb (ed.), Television: The Critical View, 6th edition, Oxford: OUP, 2000, pp. 34-51.

Aniko Bodroghkozy, ‘Chapter 2’, Groove Tube, Durham and London: Duke Uni Press, 2001.

Week 3: US Television Drama and the Social Conflicts the 1960s

This week we will examine the ways in which the US networks attempted to deal with the social conflicts of the 1960s through popular television programming.

 

Reading:

  • Bodroghkozy, Aniko, ‘Negotiating the Mod’, Groove Tube: Sixties Television and the Youth Rebellion, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2001.

 

Screening:

The Mod Squad (ABC, 1968-73)

Extract from:  

Smothered: The Censorship Struggles of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (Muldaur, 2002).

 

 

Further Reading:

In addition to the overview books listed for week 2 and the other chapters in Bodroghkozy’s book, you should also look at:

Allen, Robert C. (ed.) Channels of Discourse, Chapel Hill and London:  The University of North Carolina Press, 1987.

Bernardi, Daniel, ‘The Original Star Trek’, Star Trek and History, New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1998

Carr, Steven Allen, ‘On the Edge of Tastelessness: CBS, the Smothers Brothers, and the Struggle for Control’, Cinema Journal, 31(4), 1992.

Gitlin, Todd, Inside Prime Time, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London:  University of California Press, 2000.

Govil, Nitin, ‘Race and US Television’ in Toby Miller, (ed.) Television Studies, London: BFI, 2002.

Spector, Bert, ‘A Clash of Cultures: The Smothers Brothers vs. CBS Television’, in John E. O’Connor (ed.), American History/American Television, New York: Frederick Ungar, 1983.

 

 

Further Viewing:

I Spy (NBC, 1965-8)

Star Trek (NBC, 1966-69)

Week 4: The Turn to Relevance

This week we will look at the ways in which the US networks in the 1970s began to address some of the social realities of US society.

 

Reading:

  • Feuer, Jane, ‘MTM Enterprises: An Overview’, in Feuer, Jane, Kerr, Paul and Vahimagi, Tise (eds.), MTM: Quality Television, London: BFI, 1984.
  • Gitlin, Todd. 1994. Inside Prime Time, London: Routledge, pp.203-220.

 

Screening:

All in the Family (CBS, 1971-9)

Maude (CBS, 1972-8)

The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS, 1970-77)

 

 

Further Viewing:

One Day at a Time (CBS, 1975-84)

Good Times (CBS, 1974-9)

 

 

Further Reading:

Barnouw, Eric, Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975.

Feuer, Jane, Kerr, Paul and Vahimagi, Tise (eds.), MTM: Quality Television, London: BFI, 1984. (This book is out of print, but the BFI library holds a copy, and there is an offprint of Jane Feuer’s article ‘The MTM Style’, pp.31-60 in the Founder’s library.)

Lentz, Kirsten Marthe, ‘Quality versus Relevance: Feminism, Race, and the Politics of the Sign in 1970s Television’, Camera Obscura, vol.15, no.1, 2000, pp.45-93. (The full text of this article is available through Project Muse on Metalib.)

Week 5: The ‘Quality’ Drama Series in the US

This week you will start to examine the emergence of what has been termed ‘quality’ television in the US, from the 1970s onwards, focusing on the development of quality television drama in the early 1980s.

 

Reading:

  • Thompson, Robert J., Television’s Second Golden Age: From Hill Street Blues to ER, Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1997, ‘Preface’, and ‘Chapter 4’.

 

Screening:

Hill Street Blues (NBC, 1981-87) – pilot episode

 

 

Further Reading:

Brown, Les. 1998. ‘The American Networks’, in Anthony Smith (ed.) 1998, Television: An International History, 2nd edition, Oxford: OUP.

Feuer, Jane, Kerr, Paul and Vahimagi, Tise (eds.), MTM: Quality Television, London: BFI, 1984.

Gitlin, Todd. 1994. Inside Prime Time , London: Routledge.

MacDonald, J. Fred. 1990. One Nation Under Television: The Rise and Decline of Network Television, Chicago: Nelson-Hall.

Newcombe, Horace. 1974. TV: The Most Popular Art, New York: Anchor Books.

Week 6: Reading Week

A reading week is not a week off, but rather is a chance for you to look over what we have learnt so far on the course, engage in some further reading/viewing and prepare for the rest of the course. As this is a course where the issues are built up over a number of weeks this is a good chance to make sure you have fully understood what we have covered so far and to catch up on anything you have missed. You should also start thinking about your next essay.

Week 7: Televisuality

This week we will examine John Thornton Caldwell’s arguments that in the late 1980s and 1990s television became more concerned with the display of visual style.

 

Reading:

  • Caldwell, John Thornton, ‘Excessive Style: The Crisis of Network Television’, Televisuality: Style, Crisis and Authority in American Television, New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1995.

 

Screening:

Twin Peaks (ABC, 1990-91, ‘Pilot Episode’)

 

 

Further Reading:

Creeber, Glen, Serial Television: Big Drama on the Small Screen, London: BFI, 2004.

Hammond, Mike and Mazdon, Lucy (eds.), The Contemporary Television Series, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005.

Jancovich, Mark and Lyons, James (eds.), Quality Popular Television, London: BFI, 2003.

Lavery, David (ed.), Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks , Wayne State University Press, 1995.

Nelson, Robin, TV Drama in Transition: Forms, Values and Cultural Change, London and New York: Macmillan, 1997.

Week 8: Cult/Quality Television

This week we will examine arguments that quality television in the 1990s went through a further shift as competition for audiences increased and the networks targeted more specific viewers.

 

 

Reading:

Extract from: Johnson, Catherine, Chapter 4, Telefantasy, BFI: London, 2005.

Reeves, Jimmie L., Rodgers, Mark C., and Epstein, Michael (1996), ‘Rewriting Popularity: The Cult Files’, in Lavery, David, Hague, Angela, and Cartwright, Marla (eds.), “Deny All Knowledge”: Reading The X-Files, Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, pp.22-35

 

 

Screening:

The X-Files (Fox, 1993-2002), ‘Pilot Episode’

 

 

Further Reading:

Probst, Chris, ‘Darkness Descends on The X-Files’, American Cinematographer, 76(6), 1995, pp.28-32.

 

 

Further Reading:

Probst, Chris, ‘Darkness Descends on The X-Files’, American Cinematographer, 76(6), 1995, pp.28-32.

Lavery, David; Hague, Angela, and Cartwright, Marla (eds.), “Deny All Knowledge”: Reading The X-Files, Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1996.

Week 9: HBO – the new home of quality TV?

We will continue to consider the development of quality television in the US by examining the impact of the rise of subscription networks such as HBO that have attempted to carve out a place for themselves as the home of quality television in the US. In doing so we will examine the dependence of contemporary television on new media, such as DVDs and the internet, for commercial success.

 

Reading:

  • Rogers, Mark C.; Epstein, Michael; and Reeves, Jimmie L., ‘The Sopranos as HBO Brand Equity: The Art of Commerce in the Age of Digital Reproduction’, in Lavery, David (ed.), This Thing of Ours: Investigating The Sopranos, London: Wallflower Press, 2002.

 

Screening:

The Sopranos (HBO, 1999-2007), pilot episode.

 

 

Further Reading:

Caldwell, John Thornton, Production Culture: Industrial reflexivity and critical practice in film and television, Duke University Press: Durham and London, 2008.

Creeber, Glen, ‘Chapter 3: Serial Killers’, Serial Television: Big Drama on the Small Screen, BFI: London, 2004.

Jacobs, Jason, ‘Violence and Therapy in The Sopranos’, in Lucy Mazdon and Michael Hammond (eds.), The Contemporary Television Series , Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2005.

Gray, Jonathan, Television Entertainment, London: Routledge, 2008.

Jenkins, Henry, Convergence Culture: Where old and new media collide, New York University Press: New York and London, 2006.

Lotz, Amanda D., The Television will be Revolutionized, New York University Press: New York and London, 2007.

McCabe, Janet and Akass, Kim (eds.), Quality Television: Contemporary American Television and Beyond, London: I.B.Tauris, 2007.

Nelson, Robin, State of Play, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007.

Spigel, Lynn and Olsson, Jan (eds.), Television After TV: Essays on a medium in transition, Duke University Press: Durham and London, 2004.

Week 10: Branding Television

In this final week of the course, we will examine what some see as the key development in the US and UK television industries in the digital era: branding. Drawing on week 9, we will ask why and how branding emerges in the US context, and then discuss how branding also functions when US programmes are exported to the UK. We will also look at the ways in which branding is used to manage the recent convergence of television with other new media.

 

 

Reading:

Johnson, Catherine, ‘Tele-branding in TVIII: the Network as Brand and the Programme as Brand’, New Review of Film and Television, Vol.5, No.1, April 2007, pp.5-24

 

 

Screening:

Six Feet Under (HBO, 2001-05)

 

 

Further Reading:

Akass, Kim and McCabe, Janet, Reading Six Feet Under, London: I.B.Tauris, 2005.

Arvidsson, Adam, Brands: Meaning and value in media culture, Routledge: London and New York, 2006.

Born, Georgina, Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the reinvention of the BBC, Secker and Warburg: London, 2004.

Brown, Maggie, A Licence to be Different: The story of Channel 4, BFI: London, 2007.

Grainge, Paul, Brand Hollywood: Selling entertainment in a global media age, Routledge: London and New York, 2008.

Hobson, Dorothy, Channel 4: The early years and the Jeremy Isaacs legacy, I. B. Tauris: London, 2007.

Lury, Celia, Brands: The logos of the global economy, Routledge: London and New York, 2004.

Schroeder, Jonanthan E. And Salzer-Mörling (eds.), Brand Culture , Routledge: London and New York, 2006.

Starks, Michael, Switching to Digital Television: UK public policy and the market, Intellect, Bristol and Chicago, 2007.

 

Week 11: Essay Planning Week and Essay Tutorials

In this week you will be required to attend an essay tutorial to get advice and guidance on approaching your second essay. Please come to the tutorial with an outline of how you intend to approach the essay question. These essay tutorials are compulsory and count towards you attendance on the course.

 

 

   
 
 
 

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