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COM-325-90/91, Film Themes: The Wire (WN14)

INSTRUCTOR: Joseph Schaub

SCHEDULE/DAY/TIME: Web-based

CONTENT:

HBO’s drama The Wire has famously been called, “the greatest television series ever made.”  In this Winterim course, we will focus intensively on The Wire’s first three seasons, and attempt to understand the show’s strident critique of global capitalism through its depiction of the tragic characters and failed civic institutions of contemporary Baltimore City. We will also consider The Wire as a particularly relevant example of ground breaking 21st century television.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

-To acquire the basic terminology and skills necessary for media analysis

-To appreciate the role television plays as an evolving mass medium in American society

-To explore the changing narrative techniques employed in contemporary television

-To understand The Wire’s contribution to television’s maturation into a critical medium

METHODS:

This course will be fully web-based using Joule.com.  Students will watch the first three seasons of The Wire, read a selection of essays, participate in online discussions, take online tests, and write a summative paper to demonstrate their mastery of the material. 

REQUIREMENTS AND ASSIGNMENTS: 

Students will respond to specific discussion questions posted by the instructor, take 3 objective format tests (one following each season of the show), and write a 5-7 page analytical paper focusing on a particular character from The Wire.

Discussions: 20%

Tests: 30%

Paper 50%

REQUIRED TEXT(S) OR MATERIALS: 

-Tiffany Potter and C. W. Marshall, The Wire: Urban Decay and American Television (New York: Continuum Books, 2009).

-Rafael Alvarez, The Wire: Truth Be Told (New York: Grove Press, 2009).

READINGS AND/OR ASSIGNMENTS TO BE DONE PRIOR TO THE FIRST CLASS:

Introductions of both books.