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January 2005, Week 3


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"Buckland, Warren" <[log in to unmask]>
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 21 Jan 2005 16:40:12 -0800
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Chad's message regarding Teaching TV raises the issue of what
pedagogical approach is appropriate to teaching popular culture - a
traditional approach or a progressive approach?

Traditional media education is a subject-centered, modernist project
that defines media and popular culture as ideological, for they manifest
dominant (oppressive) social values that are imposed on passive
individuals, who are therefore perceived as victims. According to
traditionalists, students need to resist this victimization by becoming
active critics through a transformation of their consciousness, which is
provided by media education. Traditional media education is therefore a
form of demystification, which involves the professor training students
in the analytical skills and techniques of media theory and analysis. 

Progressive education, on the other hand, is a student-centered,
libertarian project that aims to encourage students to 'find their own
voice' or express their personal experiences with/through media and
popular culture. Progressive media education is based on the celebration
of popular culture as a form of resistance against or liberation from
dominant culture. The students' everyday experience, active
appropriation, and use of media and popular culture define them as the
experts, and media education involves acknowledging this dimension of
popular culture. Progressive education therefore cultivates
individuality and rejects the idea of subjecting students to negative
criticism, of education as coercion and discipline, and levels the
distinction between authoritarian professor and naive student. The
progressive media studies class takes students' everyday experiences of
the media (not the professor's theory) as the subject matter of media
education and emphasizes the positive and pleasurable aspects of the

'Channels of Discourse' seems to follow the traditional approach, which
may explain some students' resistance to having "their" popular culture
defined as ideological. I am not advocating either traditional or
progressive media education; I'm simply suggesting that professors who
teach popular culture need to be explicit about their pedagogical
assumptions. Teaching TV isn't just about content (what TV programs to
analyze?) or theories (what theories best match up to what programs?);
one also needs to develop and inscribe into the syllabus a teaching

Also, implicit in Stephen Tropiano's message a few days ago was the
assumption that he is teaching one different theory a week, and is then
looking for a TV program that best 'fits' that theory. This format
obviously favors teaching schedules and book publishing, but perhaps
this partly explains the 'struggle' (Tropiano's term) frequently
attached to this format. My main aim in raising this issue is to address
this 'struggle' and perhaps find a way out of it. 

Warren Buckland
Associate Professor, Film Studies
Chapman University
Editor, "New Review of Film and Television Studies":

Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite