How to Get to Sesame Street: Kids' TV and Culture

Spring 2018

FRPG 2078
Instructor: Sarah Barber
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course fulfills the FYS and HU general education requirements.

In recent decades, few American children have grown up without watching at least a little Sesame Street; in fact, the educational television program was so popular for so long that many were shocked when the show left PBS, its long-time home, for HBO, and some have even argued that HBO’s premium pricing and ethos as a network mean Sesame Street has abandoned its original ethos and commitment to quality free children’s programming. This semester, we’ll evaluate those arguments, as well as the question of how TV has come to be an educational resource for children and families. In addition to watching episodes of Sesame Street from its early (1969 to the mid-70s), middle (the 80s and 90s), and late (2000 to the present) years, we’ll read about the history of the program. Course work includes a research paper on Sesame Street and a group research project, in the form of a proposal and pilot, advocating for the return of a “classic” kids’ show or the “translation” of a show originally developed outside the States for an American audience. Course objectives include a sharpening of students’ critical thinking, writing, and communication skills, and an increased familiarity with research methods.

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