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Quarterly Topic

The Future of Television?

UNIV 241/TVPR 365, 003
Winter, 2014, Tuesdays 6:30PM-9:20PM
Instructors: Karen Curry, Lloyd Ackert, Elliot Panek

The medium of television is undergoing rapid change in both content and technology. Whether it's binge viewing the online-only series House of Cards, voting for your favorite contestant live on Dancing with the Stars or, without ever leaving home, being part of the creative team for a live Lexus commercial on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the one way street of the old television model is being challenged. This course explores the transformations taking place and the implications they have for the future of television. Students will hear from guest speakers ranging from industry practitioners to experts in the field of media. They will take on the role of programmers in class assignments to see how well they would do in this new Wild West of the entertainment industry. We will discuss whether or not there is a future for the medium as we know it now. And if there isn't, what medium or media will replace it?


Philadelphia, PA 
Pennoni Honors College 
Kal and Lucille Rudman Institute 

The Great Works Symposium

Imaging War 

Univ 241 (TVPR 365)

Term:                        Fall 2013 - Sections 001, 002, 003

Prerequisites            None; course is open to all matriculated undergraduates

Credits:                     3 Undergraduate (1/4 credit system)

Day/Time:                Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. to 9:20 p.m.

Faculty:                     Karen Curry, Executive Director Rudman Institute, Westphal

                                  Hana Iverson, Visiting Professor, Westphal College and COAS

                                  Elliot Panek, Visiting Fellow, Great Works Symposium Pennoni


Contact Info:            See faculty profiles on respective Colleges’ webpages


Course Description:

Imaging War is part of the Great Works Symposium for the 2013-2014 academic year. The symposium’s year-long theme is Media: Past, Present and Future.

Imaging War takes a trans-disciplinary approach to understanding the ways in which war has been represented and communicated over the centuries. From the Battle of Marathon through the War in Afghanistan, painting, sculpture, music, poetry, plays and later newspapers, photos, films, radio, television and the Internet have shone a light on tragic conflicts and their aftermath.  Are these images art, propaganda, reportage or all of the above?

During the course we will meet Anne Tucker, curator at the Fine Arts Museum of Houston, whose sweeping exhibitWar/Photography: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath, covers 165 years of war photography.  We will look at how television brought war into our living rooms with a former CBS News Saigon Bureau Chief and CNN’s President of News during the Gulf and Iraq wars, both of whom will walk us through those pivotal moments in the history of the medium.

We will meet award-winning photojournalists and combat artists as well as Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Donald Margulies.  With actors reading scenes from Margulies’ searing play Time Stands Still, we will see the trauma that journalists go through in covering war and the difficulty they have in adjusting back home.

We will examine the ways in which we remember war, the ways war is conveyed in film, how television portrays the war on terror and the war on drugs and how video games not only depict war but how they are used by the military to hone the craft of war.  

Course Learner Objectives:

After completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand the ways in which the depiction of war and its aftermath have developed especially with regard to the changes brought about by the advent of 20th Century technology
  • Analyze the differences between depictions of war by eyewitnesses and those mediated over time.
  • Explore the characteristics of journalism, propaganda and art and the ways in which they sometimes blend together.
  • Examine whether images of war actually influence the course of history.
  • Develop an awareness of how the images they see of war and its aftermath in their day to day lives are created and of what role they play in forming attitudes toward these - events.
  • Appreciate the differences in the experience of war among combatants, civilians, refugees, prisoners of war, first responders, journalists and what impact those differences have on the images produced. 

Instructional Approach/Format:

Imaging War is a Great Works Symposium interdisciplinary course designed for students who are willing to make a commitment to participating in and contributing to their learning. The course relies heavily on students’ open and intense participation in class, as we discover the ways in which media have portrayed war and its aftermath. Each week we will focus on a different aspect of media and war, using as a springboard for discussion and reflection assigned readings from a range of viewpoints and disciplines.

After each presentation, the class will break into smaller groups to consider the information they have just heard.

Students are expected to complete readings before class. Students will have an opportunity to examine all sides of a controversial issue.  Further reading and research is recommended each week to gain a broader understanding of the issue at hand.

The role of faculty in this course is to 1) facilitate the learning process of individuals and the group; 2) serve as a subject matter expert when needed; and 3) to assist you in developing your final project presentations and other writing assignments. 

Required Textbook/Supplies:

Readings from books, academic journals and newspaper, magazine and online articles, as assigned by the instructors. Screenings of films, television and online programs. Readings and videos will be made available online via the Blackboard website for this class. 

Course Learning Activities:           

Readings: Students will read journal articles, book chapters, newspaper articles, etc. as assigned by the faculty each week to prepare for the upcoming class. Students are encouraged to seek original or summary sources related to the week’s topic.

Guest Speakers: Students will meet an invited speaker or speakers who are subject matter experts. (See weekly topics at end of syllabus.) Students should have completed the readings and/or screenings prior to class to help formulate questions and responses to the guest speaker.

Presentations will be followed by break out sessions with student groups.

Week 4 Mid-Term – presentation of final project proposal:  This session will be a review of the classes thus far. Student groups will pitch their proposal for a final project to the class and the class will help groups flesh out their ideas.  The final project can be anything from a well researched paper to a short video to a photo or art project, or any other approach that will reflect the material of the course. Depending on the interests and abilities of the group, there is a wide range of possibilities.

Week 10 – Further discussion and refinement of final projects

Week 11 – Final - Each group presents their final project to the class. 

Weekly Topic Focus, Readings, and Written Assignments:

See schedule at the end of the syllabus.

Assessment & Grading Policy

Students will be responsible for submitting the following materials at the specified times. Materials should be submitted on Blackboard and, in the case of the mid-term and final presentations, presented in class.

Weekly Discussion Questions

Each week, each student writes 2-3 questions related to the upcoming speaker. Students will be provided with some basic information about each speaker (see syllabus schedule for their names) and are encouraged to find out more about the speaker before class. These questions will be used as catalysts for in-class discussion. They are to be submitted by Monday at 5pm on Blackboard.

Weekly Reflection Writing

Weekly reflections are opportunities for students to reflect on the week’s speakers and/or readings. You are encouraged to apply what you’ve learned to depictions of war or conflict that you see in the news right now, ones that you saw previously, and/or compare/contrast ideas from different weeks’ readings and speakers. Avoid simply summarizing what you have heard or read, and avoid simply telling us what you found interesting or didn’t agree with. Each reflection should be 1-2 pages long and should be submitted by Wednesday at midnight to Blackboard.


Class discussions are an integral part of each week’s class, so we encourage you to participate in all discussions even if you are typically shy or hold unpopular beliefs. Ideally, students will participate in class, but there will also be an opportunity to participate in an online forum on Blackboard. Think of the online forum as an extension of the in-class discussion: if you did not get a chance to share your comment in class or did not feel comfortable doing so, you may do so online. Students are encouraged to respond to one another within the online forum as well. Please be respectful of what other people have to say even if you find it boring or just plain wrong. When participating, it's okay to bring up anecdotes and opinions, but make sure you talk about them in the context of what we are learning in class. Before you speak, consider what new connections you might make about your experiences or existing opinions. Students are expected to comment at least once per week either in class or online in order to receive full participation credit.

Project Proposals and Final Projects

Students will be assigned to groups for the projects. In the middle of the term, student groups will pitch their proposal for a final project to the class and the class will help groups flesh out their ideas. The final project can be anything from a well-researched paper to a short video to a photo or art project to a website, or any other approach that will reflect the material of the course. Depending on the interests and abilities of the group, there is a wide range of possibilities. The rough draft should include details as to the scope of the final project and how you will go about completing it in the time allotted. Projects will be graded based on the extent to which they reflect students’ abilities to synthesize what they learn from the speakers, discussions, and readings and apply it to images of war. Groups will receive more explicit guidance during the mid-term evaluations.

Absenses and Late Work

Students are expected to attend every class. If you are unable to attend, please contact one of the instructors. Absences will not count against you if you provide official documentation from a doctor or a school official. Absent students are expected to get notes from their fellow students and to participate in the online discussion forums if possible. For each unexcused absence, students will lose a half-letter grade on their final grade (for example, a B becomes a B-).

For each day an assignment is late, students will lose a half-letter grade on the assignment. 

Course Requirements and Grading

Participation                                                            15%

9 Weekly Reflections                                                25%

9 Weekly Discussion Questions                                  20%

1 Project Rough Draft Presentation                            20%

1 Project Final Presentation                                       20% 

Grading Scale

A    93.00-100.00%
A-    90.00-92.99%
B+   87.00-89.99%
B     83.00-86.99%
B-    80.00-82.99%
C+   77.00-79.99%
C     73.00-76.99%
C-    70.00-72.99%
D+   67.00-69.00%
D     63.00-66.99%
D-    60.00-62.99%
F      59.99 and below%

Other grades without quality points may be given for special situations; consult the Drexel undergraduate catalog for these grades. If the student warrants an incomplete (I) grade, it is the student’s responsibility to make sure he/she meets the College, University, and Instructor criteria and deadlines for requesting this grade and ensuring the change of grade in a timely manner.

Disability Statement:

Student with disabilities requesting accommodations and services at Drexel University need to present a current accommodation verification letter (AVL) to faculty before accommodations can be made.  AVL’s are issued by the Office of Disability Resources (ODR).  For additional information, contact ODR, 3201 Arch St., Street, Suite 210, Philadelphia, PA  19104, 215.895.1401 (V), or 215.895.2299 (TTY).

Faculty Profiles:

See faculty profiles on the respective Colleges’ webpages.

Student’s Responsibilities:

Academic Honesty and Integrity: 

Drexel University is committed to a learning environment that embraces honesty. Faculty, students, and administrators share responsibility for maintaining this environment of academic honesty and integrity, accepting responsibility for all actions, personal and academic. Each member of our community is expected to read, understand, and uphold the values identified and described for academic integrity. An explanation of what constitutes academic dishonesty can be found on the Provost’s website at:

An explanation of the sanctions given for academic dishonesty can be found in your Student Handbook and on the website of the Office of Conduct and Community Standards at:

Drop/Add/Withdrawal Policy:

Once you are registered in this course, it is your responsibility to attend the course, drop the course, or withdraw from the course. Dropping and withdrawing are distinct actions that affect your course enrollment status. In either case, a form from the Registrar’s Office, with signatures, is required to change course enrollment status. There are billing, financial aid, and academic record affects for changes to your enrollment status in this course; therefore, you must attend to the proper procedure when dropping or withdrawing from a course. Please refer to the University’s drop/add/withdrawal policies and timelines on the Registrar’s website or contact your academic advisor.

Financial Obligations:

Students who do not satisfy financial obligations to the University and have been placed on financial hold are not entitled to a grade by the instructor. 

The student acknowledges receipt of this syllabus and the information herein contained by continuing to attend this course. The instructors reserve the right to make changes to this syllabus if circumstances warrant such change. All major changes will be provided to the students in writing.

See schedule of weekly topic focus, readings, and written assignment deadlines chart below. Given that the Symposium relies on several invited guests, this weekly plan my change slightly. Please keep in contact with your faculty leader to make sure you are current with topics under discussion and the readings for each week.

Major Course Content, Readings and Assignments

(Dates are for the Tuesday evening class meeting. Readings are to be completed prior to the class. Readings are posted to The Great Works Symposium website at



Readings and Assignments

Session One—September 24



Presentation by Anne Wilkes Tucker, Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, about her groundbreaking exhibit War/Photography.


Followed by:

Course overview, expectations, review of syllabus, and faculty perspective.



Session Two—October 1

Reel War

Presentation by Ian Abrams, Director, Screenwriting program at Westphal.

Concentration on World War II and how film during wartime reflected and reinforced the zeitgeist – how war movies, were, essentially, entertaining propaganda.



Readings to come


Session Three—October 8

Television and War

Discussion with Edward Fouhy, former CBS News Saigon Bureau Chief during the Vietnam War and Eason Jordan, Chief News Executive for CNN during the Gulf and Iraq Wars.


Students assigned working groups; meet with faculty section leader


CBS News “The World of Charlie Company” and “Live from Baghdad”

To be available through the library.

(have students check out

Session Four—October 15


Remembering War
Presentation by Dr. James Young, Director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies, on how we remember war through memorials.

Students meet with faculty section leader in working groups

SPECIAL EVENT – October 16th

An Evening with Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Donald Margulies. His playTime Stands Still tells a searing story of two combat journalists, a couple, struggling to deal with what they experienced at the front and adjusting to being home.

Reception to follow


. Readings to come









Read Time Stands Still

Session Five—October 22


Course review and

discussion of final project proposals




Session Six—October 29

Combat Artists

Presentation by Michael Fay, former US Marine and combat artist, on the history of combat art through the years and how it differs from other visual representation of war.

Accompanying exhibit of the Joe Bonham Project, portraits of wounded US troops from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars during their recovery.


Followed by opening reception


Session Seven—November 5

The Primetime War on Drugs and Terror

Presentation by Johanna Blakley, Managing Director of the Norman Lear Center at USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, of the Lear Center study of the kinds of narratives about the War on Drugs and the War on Terror that are being told in mainstream television.


Session Eight—November 12

Virtual War

An examination of the ways in which video games portray war.




Session Nine—November 19




November 26 

No Class due to Thanksgiving break.

All students should screen CBC Documentary

Under Fire: Journalists in Combat



Session Ten – December 3

Skype conversation with Dr. Anthony Feinstein, Producer of Under Fire: Journalists in Combat and leading expert on the emotional effects on journalists of working in war zones.



Final – December 10th

Presentations of group final projects


All students should screen CBC Documentary

Under Fire: Journalists in Combat