Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Jeffrey Gonzalez

Committee Member

Melinda Knight

Committee Member

Jonathan Greenberg


The goal of this thesis is to identify a theoretical approach for teaching narrative theory with television as a strategy. I argue that television serves as an accessible introduction to narrative theory and that following the template in study prepares students to transfer their new understanding of popular television narratives to the reading of complex novels. This thesis asks whether the critical acclaim attached to American television shows of the New Golden Age should push us to reconsider the place of television within the context of English studies as a pedagogical tool. It addresses the current relationship between television and the novel in America as understood by television critics, literary critics, students, and teachers while recognizing the ways in which popular television can inform student understanding of narrative theory. The selected texts for this case study include Lost (2004), Arrested Development (2003), and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. All three texts were chosen because of their mainstream success combined with critical acclaim, along with their similarities in structural experimentation and innovative storytelling methods, and have proven a successful grouping in my own teaching practice as part of a Contemporary Novels course. During development of the course, I recognized the need for an understanding of formal plot structures and theories of narrative, and this thesis responds to that pedagogical concern. I conclude with suggestions for broadening the scope of the teaching approach I describe to include alternate narratively complex television shows and/or televisual novels.