You will be writing a 3-4 page paper (12 pt. Times New Roman font, double-spaced, MLA formatting) that places two television programs from class into nuanced conversation. Please COMPARE and CONTRAST 2 EPOSIDES ” Empire of the Air; War of the Worlds” AND “The Goldbergs, “The In-Laws”; Disneyland, “Davy Crockett: Indian Fighter” in terms of their representational politics, historical contexts, industrial situations and/or aesthetic/narrative sensibilities.
This essay should revolve around a clear, complex argument/interpretive thesis (not a statement of fact or evaluative opinion) based in evidence from readings and lectures. You are required to support your argument with at least two (2) articles from class. Some broad questions you may consider addressing via a more specific thesis include:
In what ways do the programs contrast or conform in terms of their aesthetics (cinematography, mise-en-scene, editing, sound), narrative structures, performance styles, and/or (if applicable) uses of advertising? How do such conventions speak to the shows’ political perspectives?
How do these programs speak to trends occuring in the television industry at their moments of production? In what ways do they either affirm or challenge narrative, aesthetic, and/or ideological conventions of the time period and why do these similarities/distinctions matter?
How are the episodes in conversation (or not) with social and political events occuring in the United States? How do the episodes choose to address their audiences similarly/differently and why?
How do the episodes grapple with ethnic, racial, class, gender, and/or sexual identity in the United States, and how do their representations either challenge or maintain status quo cultural “ideals”?
Suggestions and Best Practices:
Try to push past the most obvious or “safe” interpretations. Identify elements of the programs that you are invested in and perhaps find unusual, personally compelling, or unexpected.
To the last point, see if you can defy or at least complicate a “progress-based” historical explanation (for instance, a statement like, “programs of the 1950s were more repressive/traditional but 1960s dramas introduced greater diversity” reads as overly reductive).
Please refrain from “cherry picking” quotes from articles and including them out of context. Consider the author’s arguments and determine why you are using their writing to substantiate your own points.
SPECIFIC, SPECIFIC, SPECIFIC! Illuminate details of the shows that you are engaging rather than reiterating (only) their main plot points and the episodes’ broader social “meaning.” They are polysemic texts that “mean” more than one thing
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