Cinema Studies Colloquium, Susan Murray

Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - 12:00pm

Susan Murray
Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University, and
Wolf Visiting Professor of Television Studies (Fall 10), University of Pennsylvania

"A Bevy of Hues": The Construction and Reception of Early Color Television

The history of color television is most often told as a series of fits and starts occurring in the post-war era in response to NSTC restrictions, FCC management, and the competitive machinations of NBC and CBS. While this story is certainly interesting and relevant, it is also where the scholarship on the subject begins and ends. It would seem that historians of television have not yet asked how the introduction of color to the medium was utilized in terms of video aesthetics, network branding, program identification, spectatorship, functions of genre, narrative trajectories, or notions of realism and fantasy within particular program types. And, unlike some recent scholarship in color film, we have not yet read industrial discourses around and studies of color in relation to philosophical understandings and cultural constructions of color. For the most part, we have been satisfied with the story of color television being a rather straightforward narrative of the basics of innovation and competition. In this talk, which represents a small section of a larger project, I will initiate a discussion on the meaning of electronic color in the context of television through an analysis of the demonstrations of mechanical color systems performed by John Logie Baird and scientists at Bell Labs in the late 1920s.

Cinema Studies Program
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