About TVDM 201

Retro TV with an antenna and different things

The Language of Television (TVDM 201) is a 3-credit general education course at Montclair State University open to all undergraduate and graduate-level students. The course runs Fall 2017 semester from Sept 8th through Dec 19th. It consists of a progression of hands-on assignments that build upon each other to lead to a transformational understanding about television criticism, as well as audience studies and industry production.

You may ask, “Why study television?” or “Why be TV literate?”

Electronic television debuted at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York as little more than an “oversized radio with a gray window in the front.”[1] Over the past century, it has evolved into a ubiquitous, multiplatform digital phenomenon. For most of the planet (even in the remotest parts of the world) television is a major part of everyday life. In the U.S. alone, 99 percent of the population has one or more television sets in their homes and Millennials spend more than four hours each day watching television on some sort of device.[2] It is difficult, if not impossible, to avoid television outside the home. Television screens are found in restaurants, retail stores, bars, airports, gas stations, doctor’s waiting rooms, and schools.

This semester you will explore television as a medium for news, entertainment, storytelling, and even social change. As an audience member, critic, and media producer you will learn how to critically think about television through interacting with a variety of television texts. You will hone your television literacy skills and, more specifically, your ability to access, analyze, evaluate, produce, communicate, and even act with and across television platforms.[3] To this end, each component of this course is geared towards preparing you to be a more critical consumer of television and a more creative producer of media texts.

To this end, you will watch a variety of television programs, live-tweet class discussions, and chronicle your insightful analyses through blogging. As a culminating activity, you will compose a multimedia essay that illustrates your critical and creative TV literacy skills. You can view a complete course syllabus for Fall 2017 [here].

TVDM 201 meets from 10:00am to 12:30pm on Fridays.


[1] George Gilder (1992) Life After Television: The Coming Transformation of Media and American Life (New York: W W Norton & Co)

[2] Nielsen “The Total Audience Report: Q4 2015

[3] I adopted this definition from the widely-accepted definition of media literacy set forth by the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE).