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True Story: What Reality TV Says about Us

Danielle J. Lindemann, Lehigh University; Shamus Khan, Sociology and Program in American Studies

Tue, 3/15 · 6:00 pm7:00 pm EDT · Labyrinth Books and Livestream

Labyrinth Books; Humanities Council

Please join us for a conversation about the rise of reality TV as a culture-dominating mediumand what the genre reveals about our attitudes toward race, gender, class, and sexuality.

This is planned as a hybrid event. If the public health picture in mid March is still very unstable, we will move to an online-only event. Please check back. To register for the livestream, click here.

What do we see when we watch reality television? In True Story: What Reality TV Says About Us, the sociologist and TV-lover Danielle J. Lindemann takes a long, hard look in thefunhouse mirror of this genre. From the first episodes of The Real World to countless rose ceremonies to the White House, reality TV has not just remade our entertainment and cultural landscape; it uniquely reflects our everyday experiences and social topography back to us. Lindemann layers sharp insights with social theory, humor, pop cultural references, and anecdotes from her own life to show us who we really are.

By taking reality TV seriously, True Story argues, we can better understand key institutions (like families, schools, and prisons) and broad social constructs (such as gender, race, class, and sexuality). From The Bachelor to Real Housewives to COPS and more, reality programming unveils the major circuits of power that organize our lives. Whether weare watching conniving Survivor contestants or three-year-old beauty queens, these guilty pleasures underscore how conservative our society remains, and how steadfastly we cling to our notions about who or what counts as legitimate or real.

Danielle J. Lindemann is Associate Professor of Sociology at Lehigh University. She is the author of Commuter Spouses: New Families in a Changing World and of Dominatrix: Gender, Eroticism and Control in the Dungeon. Shamus Khan is professor of sociology and American studies at Princeton University. He is the author of Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Pauls School, and of Sexual Citizens: Sex, Power, and Assault on Campus, among other books.

This event is cosponsored by Princeton University’s Humanities Council.

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