Saturday, January 3, 2009
Welcome to PWR 2!
Ever since MTV first put seven strangers in a house, reality television has played an increasingly prominent role in popular culture. Reality culture can take many forms and serve various purposes. It can range from the informative (documentaries and do-it-yourself shows) to the sensational (dating shows and "celebreality"). Meanwhile, the public debate surrounding reality culture either dismisses the genre completely or holds it up as a sign of the decay of modern culture. In this course, we will examine reality television as a complex cultural phenomenon that addresses several important issues at the heart of cultural studies.
Where does non-fiction end and fiction begin? What social visions does reality television depict? What strategies do "real-life" narratives use to persuade the audience that they represent reality? To answer these questions, we will consider theoretical and critical essays on the reality genre alongside case studies of the Maysles' Grey Gardens, the Big Brother UK racism controversy, and examples from "celebreality." Your work will be to choose one case study of reality culture, broadly defined (which may include documentaries, television news, beauty pageants, game shows, blogs, and other media genres), and to research this topic in depth.