This course introduces students to the history of U.S. television and to a broad range of critical models and approaches through which TV has been understood and critiqued from its inception to the present. The course begins with a survey of the history of U.S. broadcasting by which we consider how broadcast media were originally imagined, and how this has informed the way television developed, has been used, interpreted, and critiqued. The course then introduces students to key questions and critical approaches for analyzing TV and for thinking about how people make sense of and use television in their everyday lives. We will examine television as a complex and multifaceted social institution: as a commercial/economic interest; as a regulated public entity; as a venue for cultural and artistic production, address and critical analysis; and as a key cultural site of audience attention, criticism, and activism. Throughout the course we will ask questions such as: Why should we “read” television critically? What distinguishes the study of television from the study of other media, especially in a “post-broadcast” age? What is the “text” of TV? What is television’s relation to its cultural context? Upon completion of the course, students will understand the structure and practices of television as a communication medium, industry, and entertainment/information forum; they will understand various theoretical and methodological approaches used in critical, cultural studies of TV; and they will be able to supply various critical approaches in analysis of television programming, industrial strategies, and audience reception practices. Course requirements include: attendance and active participation, close reading of assigned texts, assigned short essay, midterm exam and take-home final exam.