New Critical Television
I. A. Richards’s Sense of Poetry (October-December 1957) and its sequel Wrath of Achilles (January-March 1958) added poetry appreciation to the diverse televised lectures broadcast by WGBH-TV in its first years on the air. Harvard professor Richards was an interesting choice. He ranks among the most prominent twentieth-century literary critics. Generally credited with pioneering the approach known as New Criticism, he also helped develop the Basic English approach to language education. Richards denounced mass media as culturally debasing throughout his career. Despite this, he was also a prominent advocate for educational television. Before Sense, he collaborated with Christine Gibson and M. H. Ilsey to produce French Through Television, which was the surprise hit of 1956, WGBH-TV’s first year on the air. Sense and Wrath aired Thursday evenings at 8:30 pm, against NBCs Dragnet. Both shows were kinescoped to allow recirculation on the fledgling National Education Television network (ancestor to PBS). In its promotional material for Sense of Poetry, NET touted Richards’s “background and insight” as well as his “dramatic flair.” It remains unclear, however, whether Richards’s programs aired outside Boston. WGBH’s Lewis Barlow produced both series.
Mark Garrett Cooper
Cooper is Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of South Carolina. He collaborates with University of California, Davis English professor John Marx on a project called "Mass Media and the Humanities Workforce." His most recent book is Universal Women: Filmmaking and Institutional Changes in Early Hollywood (University of Illinois Press, 2010). He is also at work on a history of motion pictures from the point of view of accounting.
Marx is Professor of English at the University of California, Davis and an Editor of the journal Contemporary Literature. He is at work on a solo book entitled "Mega: How Mass Media Make Contemporary Cities" and is collaborating with University of South Carolina film scholar and archivist Mark Garrett Cooper on a project called "Mass Media and the Humanities Workforce." He is the author most recently of Geopolitics and the Anglophone Novel, 1890-2011 (Cambridge UP, 2012)