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GH 201: Introduction to the Great Works: Television Culture

The television set functions as a normative media presence in the American home.  Approximately 97% of American homes include at least one television set.  Increasingly, television programming is accessed by other devices as well.  Television occupies the mundane physical space of the home and its aural-visual space.  Television is “on” at least 6-7 hours each day, while individuals report viewing approximately 35 hours weekly (or the equivalent annually of 77 days).  The ordinariness of television, its mundaneity, compels critical attention and concern.  Some practice concern about the saturation of everyday life with televisual programming, particularly as television stations are increasingly owned by large corporations.  Others worry about the elevation of vicarious experience over direct experience, media effects (“television made me do it”), or the reflection/production components of television culture. 

This course aims to strengthen awareness and understanding of the significance of television as a produced by and producer of culture.  Television viewing is a structured social media practice that engages viewers in complex interactions with questions of human agency, identity, and social life.  Television programming instructs how human beings live their daily lives and how they should do so.  It creates social material that animates daily interactions.  Because our daily lives are persistently marked by aspects of human identity, we cannot engage television culture without encountering/questioning those aspects—gender, ethnicity, sexuality, et al.  Because television is situated in culture, we cannot engage television without engaging other social forces of culture—morality, ethics, politics, rituals, ceremonies, normative processes of social interaction, etc.  We take as axiomatic that:

  • television is not innocent in its representations of human life;
  • televisual programming reflects conscious and deliberate decisions yielding specific and purposeful depictions of human life;
  • television is a profit industry—a site of consumption and exchange

Students will encounter theories that consider television programming as cultural product and television viewing as cultural practice.  Our concerns include the role of the viewer and the practices of viewing, the episodic narrative structure of television programs, and the specific messages told by televisual stories.

Instructor: Dr. Darlene Hantzis

If you have questions about this course, please contact Dr. Hantzis.


Greg Bierly, Dean

Pickerl Hall 110
Indiana State University
812.237.3676 fax

Office Hours:
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM