I think for a beginning level course on TV crit that Channels of
Discourse (suggested in another posting) is too hard. If anyone has
taught it successfully at that level I would like to hear about it.
I have taught parts of "Television Criticism," edited by Leah Vende Berg
and Lawrence Wenner; this book, however, is more a communication studies
model than a film studies model. I do know they are working on a new
edition, which should be out soon.
Raymond Williams "Television: Technology and Cultural Form" and Neil
Postman "Amusing Ourselves to Death" have worked well for me.
Mostly, I use a course pack. Sample essays that have been very useful
for me include: Rick Altman, "Television/Sound" in "Studies in
Entertainment," Douglas Crimp, "Portraits of People with AIDS," in
"Cultural Studies," Bonnie Dow, "Hegemony, Feminist Criticism and The
Mary Tyler Moore Show" Critical Studies in Mass Comm 7 (1990): 261-74,
Cathy Schwichtenberg, "The Love Boat: The Packagin and Selling of Love,
Heterosexual Romance, and Family," reprinted in Newcomb's Television: The
Critical View (a useful book as a whole, of course), Eileen Meehan, "Why
We Don't Count: The Commodity Audience," in "Logics of Television."
Also, to my surprise, Margaret Morse's essay, "An Ontology of Everyday
Distraction: The Freeway, the Mall, and Television" in "Logics of
Television," works well. It surprised me because it is a difficult
essay. But it helps them understand postmodernism. They can quickly
grasp the relationship between freeways, malls and TV.
Also, Jeremy Butler has a new textbook out called "Television: Critical
methods and Applications." It looks very useful.