[Update] Representing the Contemporary Youth in Teen Television Drama

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45th Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) , Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
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From Beverley Hills 90210 to Gossip Girl and Glee, the genre of the teen drama series has added a unique and multi-faceted dynamic to the American television landscape. The popularity of this genre stems from the way in which it challenges and dramatizes the realities of its young viewers, presenting them with a fantastical reality which is defined by melodrama, materialism and excess. This quality of the genre often causes adult viewers to dismiss the teen drama series as a product of guilty pleasure television. Yet, the way it represents contemporary teenage identity and, conversely, the way in which teenage viewers respond to this representation, signals a multi-layered interpretation of what it means to exist within the complex liminal space between childhood and adulthood. How, for instance, do teenagers perceive the social and national politics of their world, both in and out of the classroom? Furthermore, how do these perceptions challenge broader social and nationalistic anxieties experienced within the adult world they are on the verge of encountering? The teen drama series provides a useful framework through which to explore these questions.

Though academic work has been produced on particular teen drama series', these studies have mainly focused on these shows outside the context of their specific genre form. This seminar will seek to provide a clearer and more substantial study of this genre and its place within television studies. I welcome papers on any teen television drama, past or present, that examines this genre from multiple perspectives, such as its representation of issues pertaining to gender, class and race.

Please send abstracts of 250-300 words to Adam Levin at leviaj@gmail.com. The closing date for abstracts is 30th September 2013.