Where is television on the US Intellectual History blog? Browsing lightly, I find that we have over the years tackled classic programs like “Roots,” “Star Trek,” “Doctor Who,” “All in the Family,” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” and Tim Lacy has explored the intersection of television and the Great Books while Ben Alpers has used the PBS program The Open Mind to think about the durable legacies of mid-century culture well into the 1970s. But in comparison with our much more robust coverage of film, music, and even sports, we discuss television (especially current television) rather infrequently.
I say that not in criticism but with a genuine question in mind: is there something more difficult about talking about television within an intellectual historical frame? For it seems to me equally true that television seldom pops up in intellectual history monographs or articles, that television programs–apart, I suppose, from significant presidential addresses that have been televised–play a very small part in our histories of intellectual life in the United States after World War II.
But even if that is true (and it may be a faulty impression on my part), there is always some place to start, and I’m asking you in the comments to tell me about any great articles or chapters or even just pages you’ve read about television in intellectual history. That is, I’m not asking to build a bibliography of the history of television (those already exist) but rather one focusing on works of intellectual history in which television plays a role–as subject, illustration, case study, or garnish. Whatcha got?