Thursday, February 9, 2012

REQUIRED COURSE MATERIALS -- FLINT: The Daily Northwestern pays a visit to Professor Max Dawson's course RTVF 330: The Tribe Has Spoken: Surviving TV's New Reality:
The course's first half, as described by Dawson, is concerned with "the political economy of television in the post-network, post-TiVo universe." Students study the changes taking place within the television industry during the ‘90s that made the market ripe for the reign of reality television....

The course's other endeavor – to entrench students in a real-stakes game of "Survivor" – explains the crowded mid-size lecture hall. For the first half of the class, Dawson's castaways were divided into four tribes, named for the professor's favorite "Survivor" seasons, and as tribes, students were expected to compete against each other for immunity. Immunity challenges, or weekly group quizzes, bring both tangible and academic rewards, from Starbucks coffee and hot chocolate to the ultimate prize – a pass on Dawson's midterm exam. Dawson even buried a Hidden Immunity Idol, a "Survivor" standby, on campus, and leaks clues via Twitter. And any students who abuse computer privileges in class are sent to Exile Island.
And from that course website:
Learning Objectives. After taking this class, students will be equipped to:
  • Critically analyze popular reality TV programs and formats
  • Explain the relationship between the reality TV boom of the last decade and broader developments within the American and global media industries
  • Participate in debates on the impact of reality TV on American culture
  • Backstab, lie, cheat, bamboozle, and hornswoggle
I may have added one of the items.


  1. Heather k8:54 PM

    All right, should Chicago area throwers try to unearth this idol and sell it to the college children?  I will be at the campus a week from Saturday to pick up/drop off the fiancee for his fancy MPD2 classes.  

  2. The only way I can improve upon this idea is to suggest the planting of a fake Hidden Immunity Idol.

  3. Maggie10:18 PM

    Ah, RTVF. The major that everyone else at NU, including me, wished they would have chosen instead of Biology (or some other premed-ish major).

  4. If you really wanted to teach that last bullet point, better than reality shows would be to have the class play Diplomancy. Only played it a couple times, but this remembrance post at Metafilter is accurate:

    But Diplo is the game it is because the tactical stuff is just a substrate. It's the excuse for all the stuff that's the real game. The wheeling and dealing. The agreements. The secret agreements. The secret actual agreements that the secret agreements are just a smokescreen for. The lies you tell three different people because you haven't decided who to betray yet. The internal coinflips that decide the undecidable, the sudden betrayals, the realization that you've committed yourself to a line of attack that you will not be forgiven for even if it doesn't work.

    Diplomacy is a knife, twisted.

  5. Eric J.9:49 AM

    Per the article title: One of my favorite running themes in the early seasons of Survivor was just how hard it was to make fire. I think it was years before anyone successfully made fire without either winning it in a reward challenge, or using somebody's eyeglasses.

  6. I never realized that I was unqualified to "participate in debates on the impact of reality TV on American culture."

    Please disregard any comments I've ever made.

  7. isaac_spaceman11:15 AM

    The learning objectives really ought to be called Dawson's Creed

  8. bella wilfer12:54 PM

    Who do I have to bribe to enroll me as a student so I can take this class???

  9. J. Bowman4:25 PM

    Don't worry, that's the one Adam made up.

  10. Werwanderflugen11:12 AM

    I don't know if you guys will get notifications from this comment, but can we all discuss the fact that Max Dawson is going to be on season 30?