H11 - 
The Myth of the Family in The Godfather and The Wire
  "How Can We Not Talk About Family When Family Is All That We Got?" (Wiz Khalifa,"See You Again"). Our starting point is my conviction that The Wire, one of the most popular serials in U.S. television history, is exceedingly traditional in form and theme. It is not simply the fact that it is a serial, and that most major works of nineteenth century fiction were also introduced to their publics in similar increments designed to create an appetite for their stories and characters. It is also the way it combines graphic violence with verbal invention and eloquence, powerful characters with epic failure and criminality, and, above all, how it represents the myth of family. In The Wire, as in Twain's Huckleberry Finn, Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, and Morrison's The Bluest Eye, or The Godfather films, the family is presented in grimly realistic terms; but no matter how provisional, battered, or broken these families appear, the idea of family prevails--all their characters are devoted to the idea of blood bonds and loyalty to kin. We will study The Godfather and The Wire's first season and the differences between film and television in our culture and draw on my biography of Marlon Brando to discuss acting techniques and other aspects of the Coppola film. Other sources will include Frederic Jameson's "Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture," David Foster Wallace's "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction," and other theories on film and television.
Harvard University-Rosovsky Hall
5/13/2021, 5/17/2021