Communication and Culture | Topics in Media History
C420 | 24072 | Christopher Anderson

MW, 1:00 PM-2:15 PM, Location: TBA

A portion of this class reserved for majors

Fulfills COAS S&H Requirement

Instructor: Christopher Anderson
Office: Mottier Hall 216
Phone: 855-5914

American television has changed more in the past decade than in the
previous half-century.  Dozens of cable channels now carve the mass
audience into smaller and smaller collections of viewers, who may
have very little knowledge of what other viewers are watching on
other channels.  The rise of digital technologies—such as digital
video recorders, video games, and the Internet—have changed the ways
in which people interact with the television screen.  New forms of
non-fiction programming have changed the relationship of viewers
with the world beyond television.

Given the rapid pace of change and the scale of the media
industries, we may not be able to predict what will happen to
television over the coming decade, but we can learn something about
the forces that will shape these changes if we pause to look back at
the history of American television.  This time of extraordinary
change, in other words, is the ideal time to ask, “What was
television?”  How was television introduced in American society and
integrated into the everyday lives of its citizens?  Why has
American television contained commercials since the beginning?   How
did the television networks create a national audience in the 1960s
and ‘70s, and why did they allow this audience to be broken apart in
the 1980s and ‘90s?  How have new technologies affected the habits
of viewers and strategies of corporations?  Why have certain types
of programs been successful at certain times?

Students in this course will read about the history of American
television and view DVDs or VHS tapes of television programs in the
library or at home.  The course will be conducted as a seminar in
which students will be expected to participate in discussion and to
make classroom presentations.  Grades will be based on written
assignments involving each student’s own original historical