General Honors (GH) courses are the heart of the University Honors Program curriculum and feature small class sizes, dedicated faculty members, interdisciplinary perspectives, active learning and an exciting array of topics. These classes can be accessed by searching under University Honors in the catalog. The following is an example of a General Honors (GH) course that has been offered in the past. This course may or may not be offered again.
Television compels our focus when we imagine the “Great Works” of Culture. Television shattered cultural expectations about the adoption and integration of technological innovation in everyday life. When televisions began entering the “family home” at the end of World War II, the speed and breadth of purchase startled the manufacturing and programming industries. Five million families welcomed a television into their lives each year. By 1959, 85% of American homes included at least one television. This course will focus on television as a cultural force.
We will work to understand how people relate to TV and how it influences their everyday lives. We will engage televisual texts (past and current) and examine dominate televisual structures (from imitative forms borrowed from film and drama to the emergence of a new and innovative narrative forms). We will discuss how television reflects and shapes American culture through programming and as a fully integrated component of American family life in the suburban 1950s to its current omnipresence.
We will examine the “viewing experience” from a period we imagine to be a time of passive domestic reception to the hyper-interactive nature of contemporary television “watching.” We will question how television represents human culture, in particular the role televisual texts play in social cultural attitudes and values as reflected in portrayals of gender, sexuality, class, age, ethnicity, geographic location, etc. We will consider how television “works” across multiple genres that make room for comedies (from I Love Lucy to Modern Family and Dick Cavett to The Daily Show), procedural dramas (Hill Street Blues to The Closer) soap operas, talk shows, 24 hour news, and the strange emergence of reality programming. Students will gain an understanding of how we produce and reproduce culture and develop a critical viewing practice through discussions of written and televisual texts. Class sessions feature highly interactive discussions among students.