ENGL5167The American Sitcom and Feminist Theory3 ch (3C) [W]
This course will consider how female-centred American sitcoms responded to feminist writing and social activism from the 1950s to the present. Taking into account the generic conventions of the situation comedy and including those based on the family, workplace, and friends, the course will examine sitcoms in relation to twentieth- and twenty-first-century feminist theory and history. It will explore how the sitcom has dealt with—or not—issues such as women’s work and pay inequity, gender and sexual identities, sexual relationships with men and other women, reproductive rights, sexual assault and harassment, domestic violence, class, race, and the politics of appearance. It will contemplate why, until the present day, so many of the women on U.S. television are cis-gendered, white, heterosexual, thin, and middle class, but it will also consider the shows that question that dominant paradigm of womanhood. The course will provide grounding in feminist theory, as well as insight into women’s history. It will examine the pace of social change, the political engagements of television programing, the way in which television, particularly in stories focused on women, engaged, questioned, rejected, or ignored feminist thought, and how feminism is engaged with television.