Calendar of Events

Spring 2013

Wednesday, April 3, 2013
What Does Television Do in the 21st Century?
Image of television
With C21 fellows Christine Evans (History), Caitjan Gainty (Provost Fellow, History), Shelleen Greene (Art and Design)
a conversation
3:00 pm Greene Hall
3347 N Downer Ave

What does television do in the 21st century? How is it, how should it be, situated in history, culture, and academic disciplines? Is it continuous with its twentieth century past? And, above all, what does the very asking of this question, with its tightly time-oriented frame of reference, reveal about our assumptions and expectations for television now, in this so-called era of “convergence”?

Perhaps television’s role as a carrier/receiver/reflector of “culture” and its values drives us to reflect not on TV exactly, but on a new anxiety about our own location: in the national, transnational, local, global and points in between that TV inhabits. Or perhaps this new location is not geographical, but social. For even if this is an era of convergence, it is also potentially an era of new divisions, in which the parsing of class, race, gender and difference are reflected and directed in the parsing of TV as an object of and in culture.

These considerations form the initial centerpiece of this multidisciplinary symposium and expand from there outward, to consider particular case studies (which are located in, and play with questions of, time, place and context) to explore and potentially expand the meaning and significance of television laid out in our readings. The symposium will feature research by C21 fellows Christine Evans (history), Caitjan Gainty (history, provost postdoctoral fellow), and Shelleen Greene (Art and Design, PSOA) who take up television in quite different ways: to understand Soviet cultural politics; to study how television educates, and in many cases, fails to educate, the public about health care; and to consider representations of race in a post-racial era.

We encourage people to read Tasha Oren’s “Reiterational Texts and Global Imagination: Television Strikes Back,” a chapter in her edited volume (with Sharon Shahof), Global Television Formats: Understanding Television Across Borders, and the introduction to Michael Newman and Elana Levine’s Legitimating Television: Media Convergence and Cultural Status in preparation for the symposium, and to come with questions from their own research and disciplinary positions. The C21 fellows will present brief papers about their research, UWM faculty Elana Levine, Michael Newman, and Tasha Oren will respond, and then we will open to floor to discussion and questions.

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