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Just Like That!: Comedy and Light Entertainment in TV and Film

  • Module code: TV5002
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 5
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: Successful completion of Level 4 requirements or equivalent
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This module provides students with an understanding of the politics, spaces and histories of TV and film comedy and entertainment and broadens critical awareness of comedy as a TV and film form.

'The Light Programme:' in the first term students will look at the history, development, culture and theories of British light entertainment television. Using a diverse range of 'classic' and modern TV programmes we investigate what we mean by 'light' in entertainment and discuss how it embraces working class phenomena as well as how it engages a set of programmes, old and new.  We will also look at the histories and traditions of this format, looking comparatively at a set of global texts.

'Film and Television Comedy:' in the second term we look more broadly at British, American and global forms and traditions of comedy taking in British seaside comedy, romantic comedies, traditions of Black and Jewish comedy and contemporary postmodern film and TV comedies.

Aims

  • To examine the nature and structure of comic material in film and television, and its developing role in new broadcast media and to relate theories to different cultures of comic production and consumption ("audiences")
  • To recognize different genres and forms and some of the political and cultural functions of comedy
  • To develop knowledge of classic comic work and texts and to explore the theoretical debates about the nature and form of comedy within its social and political context.
  • To examine comedy in relations to the politics of gender, race, and class and to discuss the cultural and historical traditions of light entertainment television.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will:

  •  Demonstrate an understanding of the cultural and historical traditions of television and film comedy and light entertainment.
  •  Discuss the various traditions of comedy and their place in 20/21st Century comedy.
  •  Engage with debates about the key issues of taste, high and low culture, and ‘the popular' in television and film, and to ask whether television forms or reflects popular opinion.
  •  Discuss the representation of class, race, gender,' otherness' and cultural conflict in light entertainment television.
  •  Identify and critically analyse a variety of light entertainment formats, with reference to the audiovisual language and formal qualities of film and television.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the relationship between TV, radio, film and other media in terms of comedy.
  • Apply theoretical approaches, including debates around representation and identity, to a range of comedy texts across various media
  •  Draw on appropriate theoretical approaches to explore the relationship between comedy and its audiences.

Curriculum content

 The historical development of specific comedy genres, such as romantic comedy in film and situation comedy in television, and how texts, writers, stars and formats have moved between radio and television.

  • Changes and continuities in comedy genres.
  •  How comedy appeals to audiences, drawing on theorists such as Freud and Bahktin.
  •  The significance of irony and intertextuality for the contemporary audience
  • The role of comedy in both defining and challenging notions of identity with reference to race, gender, nationality, age and sexuality
  •  The historical and cultural evolution of light entertainment: TV as a contemporary forum for earlier cultural practices – variety, music hall, working men's clubs, dance and theatre.
  •  The cultural significance of the light entertainment television star.
  •  Debates over the representation of class and ethnicity in television.
  •  Debates over the family audience vs. issues of propriety.
  •  Discussion of Bakhtin and carnival.
  • The questions of ‘high' vs. ‘low' culture, taste and ‘the popular'.
  •  The evolution of light entertainment into the age of new media technologies, interactivity and convergence.

Teaching and learning strategy

This year long module is taught through a series of weekly two hour lecture/seminars. It will be divided into two sections..  First the module will deal with an exploration of the theories and debates around film and television comedy and the relationship between television, film and radio.

The module and key themes will initially be introduced by lectures. Most of the learning will take place through workshops initially led by the tutor and then led by students.

Students will be expected to undertake a range of activities within taught sessions and by independent study, initially tutor-led and then student-directed. These will include viewings, examination of relevant theoretical material, close textual analysis, library based and on-line research, group presentations, and other workshop activities.

In the second section the module will focus on Broadcast light entertainment television in Britain. 

Key themes, issues and light entertainment television texts will be introduced in a weekly two hour lecture which, while being led by the tutor, will also require student participation in class discussion.

Students will be encouraged to engage more fully with the material through class discussion and weekly group tasks, viewings, close examination of critical and theoretical material, presentations and textual analysis.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Lectures/workshops 44 hours
Guided independent study Self guided study 256 hours
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

The assessment will be two x 2000 word essays worth 50% each.  Both parts of assessment must be passed to successfully complete the module. The essays will test an understanding of the module content and a clear and successful engagement with the learning outcomes

 

 

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
Demonstrate an understanding of the cultural and historical traditions of television and film comedy and light entertainment. Assessed summatively by the essays and formatively through in class discussion
Discuss the various traditions of comedy and their place in 20/21st Century comedy. Assessed summatively by the essays and formatively through in class discussion
Engage with debates about the key issues of taste, high and low culture, and 'the popular' in television and film, and to ask whether television forms or reflects popular opinion. Assessed summatively by the essays and formatively through in class discussion
Discuss the representation of class, race, gender, 'otherness' and cultural conflict in light entertainment television. Assessed summatively by the essays and formatively through in class discussion
Identify and critically analyse a variety of light entertainment formats, with reference to the audiovisual language and formal qualities of film and television. Assessed summatively by the essays and formatively through in class discussion
Engage with debates about the key issues of taste, high and low culture, and 'the popular' in television and film, and to ask whether television forms or reflects popular opinion. Assessed summatively by the essays and formatively through in class discussion
Demonstrate an awareness of the relationship between TV, radio, film and other media in terms of comedy. Assessed summatively by the essays and formatively through in class discussion
Apply theoretical approaches, including debates around representation and identity, to a range of comedy texts across various media Assessed summatively by the essays and formatively through in class discussion
Draw on appropriate theoretical approaches to explore the relationship between comedy and its audiences. Assessed summatively by the essays and formatively through in class discussion

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
CWK 1 x 2000 word essay 50
CWK 1 x 2000 word essay 50
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Medhurst A. (2006) National Joke Popular Comedy and Cultural Identity. London: Routledge

Wagg, S. (1998) Because I tell a Joke or Two. London: Routledge

 Smith, A. and Paterson, R. (1998). Television, an international history. Oxford : OUP

Geraghty, C. and Lusted D. (1997). Television Studies Book. London: Arnold

Bibliography recommended reading

Neal, S. and Krutnik, F. (199) Popular Film and TV Comedy. London: Routledge.

Jenkins, H. (1992) What made Pistachio Nuts? New York: Columbia

Fiske, J. (1978). Television Culture. London: Routledge

Livingstone, S. (1998). Making Sense of TV. London: Routledge

Allen, R.C. (ed.) (1992). Channels of Discourse Reassembled. London: Routledge

 

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