University Honors College - The Honorable mention

Honors College Breaking Bad Seminar for Honors Upperclassmen Fall 2014!

Posted by Tim on May 7, 2014 in Academics, Honors Experiences, Honors Seminars

ENG 499: Breaking Down “Breaking Bad” *Upperclassmen Honors Scholars Only*
12:30-3 Mondays, 610 Clemens
Instructor: Bruce Jackson

To enroll in this class, please email Tim Matthews to be force registered in:  There are limited seats available and they will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Breaking Bad” was one of the most spectacular narrative achievement in television. Its five seasons comprised some 60 hours of a single narrative arc, something no film  or television program (cable or commercial) has ever accomplished. The original version of Erich von Stroheim’s Greed was a mere 8 hours; read aloud, The Iliad takes about 12 hours and War and Peace 24 hours “Breaking Bad” is one of the great epics. The acting, writing, cinematography, editing, scoring and settings were all masterful (the show won major award in all categories). It was a story made for television, not the big screen; some of the work would have been handled differently had it been done for a theater audience. It has already had a continuing cultural influence: the New York City bsed One World Symphony, for example, is developing an opera based on the “Ozymandias” episode in the final season.

In this seminar, we’ll take a close look at all the components of the series; we’ll talk about what was done, how it was done, why it worked. There is one prerequisite: that members of the seminar have seen the series before the seminar’s first meeting. We’re going to be studying it, not greeting it. We’ll look at some segments during the semester, but only so we can deconstruct the work. I’ll expect participants to do class presentations on different aspects of the epic, and a term paper on a topic of their choice.

My own qualifications for, and interest in, the story of Walter White are fourfold: I’ve made films, I’ve photographed extensively in the Chihuahuan Desert (where the series was filmed), I’ve written extensively about narrative, and I was senior consultant on the field segment of the drug report for the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice (usually called “The President’s Crime Commission”), which gave me the opportunity to spend a lot of time on the ground with people on both sides of the kind of action depicted in “Breaking Bad.”

In case it’s of interest, here is the Huffington Post article on this semester’s class:

and here is the UB Reporter piece: