Television has become the preeminent communications system in the world. But pervasiveness and ubiquity are not the only reasons to study television. Television calls into question many long-held ideas regarding aesthetics, ontology, and epistemology; terms normally reserved for philosophy, not the mass media. Additionally, television is emblematic of modern industrial society; pointing to the universalization of the commodity form, the paradoxes of individualism, the administration of culture and the ideological control of capitalism as a global system. Television can also be conceived as mindless, entertaining, and superficial even as it creates communities, national imaginaries and seems to bring the world into our homes. This course will examine some of these contradictions. We will explore what television is, what television does, and how television shapes our fundamental assumptions about space and time, image and sound.