Fall 2023

Television Detection

Listed in: English, as ENGL-380  |  Film and Media Studies, as FAMS-385


Amelie E. Hastie (Section 01)


(Offered as ENGL 380 and FAMS 382) How do we “know” television today? That is, how do we understand its very definitions, and how do we approach an investigation of it? Shifts in programming, platforms, and viewing habits have quite literally altered how we see it, but do they also alter how we know it? In order to explore these questions, this course will focus on television’s representation of detection and its work as an investigative medium itself. Thus, our focus on detection will play a dual role: as an inquiry into the development of a genre and as a metaphor for television’s own peculiar form. In order to develop our own investigatory practice, then, we will begin with historical examples of television detectives. Looking at series from the 1950s through the present day, the first part of the course will delineate the investigative habits of episodic programming, including a focus on formulaic procedurals, made-for-television movies, and more experimental cases. The course will then turn to three case studies of contemporary serials made for different networks and/or platforms that showcase the investigative form and, indeed, the powers of detection of television as a medium. Each of these cases will focus on the processes of investigation of criminal and legal systems and of American culture. By thinking through narrative form, representational systems, authorship, exhibition, and reception habits, we will attempt to define not just what television is but also what it can be.   

Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Hastie.

Pending Faculty Approval

How to handle overenrollment: FAMS and English majors will be prioritized, as will juniors and seniors, but my hope is that it will serve students across the campus.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: textual and cultural analysis of films, emphasis on written work.

ENGL 380 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 2:30 PM - 3:50 PM FAYE 117
Th 2:30 PM - 3:50 PM FAYE 117


2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2023