Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Television and Media: Children's Television

ENGL 295.402
instructor(s):
fulfills requirements:
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

This upper-level course examines the history, aesthetics, economics, and ideology of children's television programs in the United States, from the late 1940s to the present.  We will focus in particular on how reformers, censors, parents, and producers use television to reinforce or challenge the cultural ideal of childhood innocence.  Topics will include:  the Children's Television Act of 1990; the Federal Communication Commission's historically shifting stance on regulation; the effects of deregulation in the 1980s; Nickelodeon's history and marketing strategies; the history of the V-Chip and the TV ratings system; the Surgeon General's 1972 Report on Television Violence; the evolution of educational programming; and liberal and conservative activist approaches to the censoring of children's media.  Programs such as Howdy Doody, Pokémon, Teletubbies, Sesame Street, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, and SpongeBob SquarePants will be contextualized via consideration of shifting historical conceptions of childhood and study of media censorship battles that preceded the rise of TV.