History of American Television Genres

CRN 18362
Film Genres
MW 12-1:15PM, Sparks Hall 308
Screening M 9:30-11:20AM, Arts and Humanities 406

Course description:
This course will take a historical view of popular American television genres from the beginnings of broadcast television in the late 1940s to the present.  Over the semester, we will progress through numerous television genres by focusing on a few prominent and popular genres for each decade, with some genres reappearing as their generic characteristics change with their historical context.  Though this is a genre course, we will be examining genres as potential or problematic windows into a particular historical moment.  The recurring questions we will address throughout the semester will focus on: 1) How did the historical context shape the genre at a particular moment? and 2) Why might certain genres have risen to prominence or popularity at the moment they did?
    The course will cover a breadth of genres that have both sustained over the decades and risen and fallen based on their ties to their historical moments.  Additionally, we will explore two genres in depth: the sitcom because of its continuity throughout television history and its different generic characteristics based on contextual cues and science fiction/fantasy because of its use of displacement to explore or escape its contextual historical moment. The aim of this approach to the history of American television genres is to provide both sweeping exposure to the variety of American television genres and to understand the historically-bound nature of these genres and what their study can tell us about American culture.

Course goals: By the end of the semester, students should:
  • Be able to identify and articulate the major generic characteristics of a breadth of American television genres.
  • Understand and be able to articulate the specific historical conditions that lead to the rise and fall in popularity of a variety of American television genres as well as how those conditions shaped the presentation of the genre within certain texts.
  • Be able to identify key moments in American television history.

Required texts: The required readings are found in a course packet, which must be bought from Bestway copies.  No one textbook can cover the breadth of genres to be covered in the course.

Screenings (Mondays 9:30-11:20AM): Screenings are required, and students will be held accountable  for viewing the assigned material prior to class.  Students will be briefly quizzed on screening content at the beginning of Monday classes, and these quizzes will count toward a student's participation grade.  Occasionally, the screening content is available online, indicated by links on the weekly schedule.  When that is the case, students may choose to watch the content on their own time but will still be held accountable for having seen the screening content.

Assignments: The course requires contributive participation in class discussions, one presentation per student over the course of the semester (on an outside reading linked to the class's discussion), one 2-3 page paper, one 5-7 page paper, one midterm exam, and a final exam.

    Participation: 10%
    Presentation: 10%
    Exam 1: 20%
    Paper 1: 15%
    Paper 2: 25%
    Final exam: 20%

Grade Scale:
A+: 100-97; A: 93-96; A-: 90-92; B+: 87-89; B: 83-86; B-: 80-82; C+: 77-79; C: 73-76; C-: 70-72; D: 60-69; F: below 60

**This syllabus is the general plan for the course; deviations may be necessary as the semester progresses.**

Academic Honesty:

As members of the academic community, students are expected to recognize and uphold standards of intellectual and academic integrity. The university assumes as a basic and minimum standard of conduct in academic matters that students be honest and that they submit for credit only the products of their own efforts. Both the ideals of scholarship and the need for fairness require that all dishonest work be rejected as a basis for academic credit. They also require that students refrain from any and all forms of dishonorable or unethical conduct related to their academic work.

The university's policy on academic honesty is published in the Faculty Affairs Handbook and On Campus: The Student Handbook and is available to all members of the university community. The policy represents a core value of the university and all members of the university community are responsible for abiding by its tenets. Lack of knowledge of this policy is not an acceptable defense to any charge of academic dishonesty. All members of the academic community — students, faculty, and staff — are expected to report violations of these standards of academic conduct to the appropriate authorities. The procedures for such reporting are on file in the offices of the deans of each college, the office of the dean of students, and the office of the provost.

In an effort to foster an environment of academic integrity and to prevent academic dishonesty, students are expected to discuss with faculty the expectations regarding course assignments and standards of conduct. Students are encouraged to discuss freely with faculty, academic advisors, and other members of the university community any questions pertaining to the provisions of this policy. In addition, students are encouraged to avail themselves of programs in establishing personal standards and ethics offered through the university's Counseling Center.

Definitions and Examples

The examples and definitions given below are intended to clarify the standards by which academic honesty and academically honorable conduct are to be judged. The list is merely illustrative of the kinds of infractions that may occur, and it is not intended to be exhaustive. Moreover, the definitions and examples suggest conditions under which unacceptable behavior of the indicated types normally occurs; however, there may be unusual cases that fall outside these conditions that also will be judged unacceptable by the academic community.

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is presenting another person's work as one's own. Plagiarism includes any paraphrasing or summarizing of the works of another person without acknowledgment, including the submitting of another student's work as one's own. Plagiarism frequently involves a failure to acknowledge in the text, notes, or footnotes the quotation of the paragraphs, sentences, or even a few phrases written or spoken by someone else. The submission of research or completed papers or projects by someone else is plagiarism, as is the unacknowledged use of research sources gathered by someone else when that use is specifically forbidden by the faculty member. Failure to indicate the extent and nature of one's reliance on other sources is also a form of plagiarism. Any work, in whole or in part, taken from the Internet or other computer-based resource without properly referencing the source (for example, the URL) is considered plagiarism. A complete reference is required in order that all parties may locate and view the original source. Finally, there may be forms of plagiarism that are unique to an individual discipline or course, examples of which should be provided in advance by the faculty member. The student is responsible for understanding the legitimate use of sources, the appropriate ways of acknowledging academic, scholarly, or creative indebtedness, and the consequences of violating this responsibility.

Cheating on Examinations: Cheating on examinations involves giving or receiving unauthorized help before, during, or after an examination. Examples of unauthorized help include the use of notes, computer-based resources, texts, or "crib sheets" during an examination (unless specifically approved by the faculty member), or sharing information with another student during an examination (unless specifically approved by the faculty member). Other examples include intentionally allowing another student to view one's own examination and collaboration before or after an examination if such collaboration is specifically forbidden by the faculty member.

Unauthorized Collaboration: Submission for academic credit of a work product, or a part thereof, represented as its being one's own effort, which has been developed in substantial collaboration with another person or source or with a computer-based resource is a violation of academic honesty. It is also a violation of academic honesty knowingly to provide such assistance. Collaborative work specifically authorized by a faculty member is allowed.

Falsification: It is a violation of academic honesty to misrepresent material or fabricate information in an academic exercise, assignment, or proceeding (for example, false or misleading citation of sources, the falsification of the results of experiments or of computer data, false or misleading information in an academic context in order to gain an unfair advantage).

Multiple Submissions: It is a violation of academic honesty to submit substantial portions of the same work for credit more than once without the explicit consent of the faculty member(s) to whom the material is submitted for additional credit. In cases in which there is a natural development of research or knowledge in a sequence of courses, use of prior work may be desirable, even required; however, the student is responsible for indicating in writing, as a part of such use, that the current work submitted for credit is cumulative in nature.