Television in Transition: Crime and Cookery

a Masterclass with Professor Charlotte Brunsdon

View report

 

The Brisbane leg of the Morley/Brunsdon tour involved Charlotte coming north to lead a two-day masterclass and present a public lecture. The masterclass involved 16 postgraduates and early career researchers, who each presented some aspect of their own work relating to the theme of “Television in Transition: Crime and Cookery” to which Charlotte responded and then lead the group in discussion. Comments about the masterclass from participants were uniformly positive, and everyone was grateful to Charlotte for her dedication and generosity (not to say, stamina!).

On the evening of the second day, Charlotte presented a public lecture to members of the university community. Some 56 people attended a lively presentation about cinematic depictions of the city (in this case, London).

Charlotte’s was a short but productive visit that revitalised a lot of discussion around some important, but frequently dismissed, genres of television and cinema, and which introduced many junior scholars to an important body of work.

 

venue: Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies, University of Queensland, Brisbane
date: Monday 18 & Tuesday 19 February 2008

Registered Participants are able to download the required readings here (password required)

Draft Schedule:

Monday 18 February
11:00am - 1:00pm: Introductory Session
1:00pm - 2:00pm: Lunch
2:00pm - 6:00pm: Two sessions, with break. One: Lifestyle programming; Two: Crime series. Students to have prepared contributions.

Evening: dinner with participants (details to follow)

Tuesday 19 February
10:00am – 1:00pm: Session, with coffee break.
1:00pm: lunch and close

Theme: This masterclass will take as its topic the critical analysis of a medium in transition. There will be three main areas of emphasis for the class: television 'in general', crime and police series on television, and cookery and lifestyle programming. The course is designed to move between more general analytic questions, meta-historical approaches to television, and the detailed analysis of particular programmes within particular historical contexts. The examples provided will in general be drawn from British television of the last two decades, but participants will be expected to provide examples and case studies from the Australian context. Running across the class and through the case studies there are a set of concerns about key issues in television studies such as: the relationship between programmes, institutions and cultures of production; use of the archive, irony and the viewing of 'old television'; questions of memory and metaphor; quality, audiences and aesthetics; and, finally, periodization and genre, as television as we have known it moves into the 21st century.

The two case studies areas are chosen to contrast different types of television programming which have been paid different types of analytic attention. They also tend to circulate internationally in different ways, with some crime drama widely exported as originally broadcast (and some judged unexportable), while much lifestyle and factual entertainment is traded as formats which are reinterpreted internationally. Serial drama about law enforcement and criminality is one of the persistent and ubiquitous of television genres. It is also the key fictional genre (after soap opera in the 1970/80s) which is referred to by non-television scholars who wish to make arguments about the relationship between television and society. This is because the genre must, implicitly or explicitly, dramatise what it is to be a law-abiding citizen, a criminal, an investigator, a law enforcer, the community and the state, although the generic conventions can range from the fantastic to the realist. The case studies in this part of the course will run from Prime Suspect to some of the different types of 'nice crime' originating on British television including the heritage crime of Agatha Christie adaptations. The second case study uses 'cookery' as a shorthand for the enormous growth in lifestyle programming on television, and will explore the constitution of the consuming, home-improving publics featured on these programmes in the context of discussions of television studies in general, cultural and aesthetic taste, citizenship, ordinariness and the remit of public service broadcasting.

The structure of the class will permit us to return to more general questions about the study of television after the case studies.

Biographical note:

Charlotte Brunsdon is Professor of Film and Television Studies at the University of Warwick. She has been interested in the critical analysis of popular television since first undertaking post-graduate research at the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies in the 1970s, and her publications include Everyday Television: Nationwide (co-author, with David Morley) London, BFI, 1978, Screen Tastes: Soap Opera to Satellite Dishes (Routledge, 1997), Feminist Television Criticism (co-editor, with Julie D'Acci and Lynn Spigel) (Oxford 1997) and The Feminist, the Housewife and the Soap Opera (Oxford, 2000). Her most recent book is London in the Cinema (forthcoming 2007). She has recently written about lifestyle television and is currently researching television crime series.

report

The Brisbane leg of the Morley/Brunsdon tour involved Charlotte coming north to lead a two-day masterclass and present a public lecture. The masterclass involved 16 postgraduates and early career researchers, who each presented some aspect of their own work relating to the theme of “Television in Transition: Crime and Cookery” to which Charlotte responded and then lead the group in discussion. Comments about the masterclass from participants were uniformly positive, and everyone was grateful to Charlotte for her dedication and generosity (not to say, stamina!).

On the evening of the second day, Charlotte presented a public lecture to members of the university community. Some 56 people attended a lively presentation about cinematic depictions of the city (in this case, London).

harlotte’s was a short but productive visit that revitalised a lot of discussion around some important, but frequently dismissed, genres of television and cinema, and which introduced many junior scholars to an important body of work.