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Theater 118AC - Performance, Television, and Social Media (4 units): This course examines the intersections of performance and media–specifically the media forms of television and social media in the U.S.–with a focus on how various types of difference (race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic class) are enacted, articulated, represented, and played on TV and social media platforms.
Units 1-4 of the course will be dedicated to learning "critical frameworks" for understanding and interpreting television. We will read texts that define television as a medium and that explain the division between the eras of "network" and "post-network" television. We will then turn to texts that allow us to grasp the many intersections of performance theory and television, which include the TV industry's roots in New York theater, the unique modes of acting required by television roles, and the numerous ways that television audiences "perform" for one another in response to the media they consume, for example by writing stories based on their favorite shows and sharing them online. The final set of critical frameworks will be theories borrowed from the fields of critical race studies, Marxist cultural studies, gender and women's studies, and queer studies. These readings will help students build a foundation for perceiving and discussing how race, class, gender, and sexuality appear on and are addressed by, television (or, how these features are suppressed and ignored).
In Units 5-9, we will concentrate on "Representations and Enactments" of specific minority groups in historical and contemporary television texts: African Americans, Asian Americans, Latino/as, indigenous people, and LGBT people. In this section of the course, students will be expected to become knowledgeable about the specific issues involved with the mass media representation of each group, and also will be expected to apply the critical lenses learned in Units 1-4, especially those from the field of performance studies, to the texts and groups that we discuss. In Unit 10, we turn from television to social media, learning "Critical Frameworks" for comprehending how social media networks are sites of performance, and how all users adopt personas and identities when they participate in social media platforms.
In Units 11-13, we will analyze how race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and socioeconomic class are expressed, defined, and performed on social media sites.
Class Number: 14025
Final Exam: Wednesday, August 8 from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. (Final exam date is tentative; subject to change by professor)
Register/Add Deadline: TBD (Pacific Time)