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10940 : Reading Reality TV

Description: This course examines the cultural politics of reality television with a focus on how these wildly successful shows, often perceived as guilty pleasures, have in fact been responsible for mediating important conversations around issues of race, gender, and sexuality. This course is also a survey of reality tv, conceived simultaneously as an artifact and an archive of pop culture and mainstream politics. We will start with the “first” reality tv show An American Family, which aired in 1971, and examine the emergence of reality tv from genres of documentary and cinéma vérité (such as Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls, Grey Gardens, and Candid Camera). We will then analyze the advent of so-called unscripted television of the 1990s and early 2000s with special attention to shows like The Real World, Queer Eye, Laguna Beach: The Real O.C., Judge Judy, and The Apprentice. We will also consider more contemporary shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, RuPaul’s Drag Race, The Real Housewives, and 90 Day Fiancé. Student interest will factor into our selection. Above all, students will develop practical skills of research and methodology. In addition viewing shows and reading theorists of identity and media, students will craft individual research projects about specific shows throughout the term, culminating in a symposium. (1830-1940, Theory)

Instructor(s): Brandon Truett

Offered: Spring 2022

Category: Theory

Cluster(s): Digital Moving Image