Cops and Courts Syllabus, Part 1

As I’ve noted before, over the summer I’ll be preparing to teach the fall section of my department’s introductory production class, C335 “Production as Criticism”. The intent of C335 is to have students learn about production through an academic lens, with focus on particular genres or modes of media. The topic for my class is “Television Drama: Cops and Courts”. I wanted to look at this topic for many reasons: its popularity, its connection to the foundations of American culture, the compact form of the episode paired with the lengthier form of the series. I’m also interested in it because I think that our students could use more television studies. I want to add to my knowledge of television as well; I also want to learn more about fiction production. Although my media studies background certainly involves a lot of fiction work, my production background has been mostly nonfiction. I taught our department’s documentary production course for two years, and the first time I taught C335, our focus was on Dogme films, so I could certainly incorporate a lot of nonfiction techniques. Now’s the time to get more fiction techniques under my belt.

For all of these reasons, I’m posting my syllabus drafts for feedback from media studies friends. I have the first version posted to Google docs. Feel free to look it over and add your suggestions. There have been some other drafts, my “kitchen sink” drafts, with all kinds of jottings, but this is the first one that has a fairly strong structure, with shows that I think might be able to work well for the weekly themes. I’m definitely looking for any advice on the structure, as well as recommendations for readings, assignments, or suggestions for other syllabi to check out. Readings affiliated with the shows would be very helpful. At this point in the game, I think that’s the hardest part. In terms of texts, it’s likely that I’ll incorporate parts of Jonathan Nichols-Pethick’s soon-to-be published book TV COPS: THE CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN TELEVISION POLICE DRAMA, and the chapter “Policing Genres–DRAGNET’s Texts and Generic Contexts” from Jason Mittell’s book GENRE AND TELEVISION: FROM COP SHOWS TO CARTOONS IN AMERICAN CULTURE. I have a few others in mind, but I’d love more recs for readings on the genre specifically and on fiction storytelling generally. There are a lot of different textbooks on fiction production, so if you have one that you like, share it! Thanks in advance for any help. That includes simply passing the link on to others you think might be able to contribute!

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