75948 - Analisys of the TV Series (1)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Gender equality

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course aims at providing the students with semiotic tools for the analysis of contemporary serial products, paying particular attention to their narrative plots, to the proposed social models and to the ways in which TV series are structured.

Course contents

In opting for a semiotic perspective, the course will explore in depth the textual and transmedia mechanisms of televisual seriality, along with its main semiotic strategies, from its origin up until the latest production of OTT streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Halo and Disney Plus. The evolution of different serial formats will be investigated, together with the relationship between literature, television and cinema. Particular attention will be given to the expanded textuality that informs TV series production, distribution and consumption, that is the nowadays dynamics of cultural and media overflows. The course will also concentrate on the main categories and tools of a semiotic analysis of TV series, focusing on their narrative structures, the world building, the proposed social models, themes and values, and the construction of the main characters.

After the first two weeks dedicated to a general introduction to the above-mentioned mechanisms – during which different examples and case studies will be discussed – the course will concentrate on specific genres and series. Hence, the topics will be divided as follows:

first week: what do we mean by seriality? From the feuilleton to new tv formats on OTT platforms

second and third weeks: how to analyze a TV series: genres and their hybridization, world building, seriality and hyperseriality, thematic complexity and underlying values, characters’ construction and modes of alignment/allegiance; heroes and anti-heroes;

fourth week: politics and control, security and conspiracy; new forms of seriality and the "mini-series": examples of analyses of series such as 24 and Homeland , House of Cards and Designated Survivor; Hunters and The Man in the High Castle, The Queen Gambit and Euphoria;

fifth week: contemporary dystopias: examples of analyses of series such as Black Mirror, Westworld, The Handsmaid’s Tale.


Mandatory texts for the completion of the exam for attending students (either on line or in presence):

Bernardelli, A., (2016), Cattivi seriali. Personaggi atipici nelle produzioni televisive contemporanee, Roma, Carocci (da p. 9 a p. 69).

Carini, S., (2009) Il testo espanso. Il telefilm nell'età della convergenza, Vita e Pensiero, Milano (solo la prima parte: sono cioè esclusi i capitoli dedicati all’analisi specifica di alcune serie).

Dusi, N., Grignaffini G., (2020), Capire le serie Tv. Generi, stili, pratiche, Roma, Carocci.

Grasso, A., Penati, C., (2016), La nuova fabbrica dei sogni. Miti e riti delle serie Tv americane, Milano, il Saggiatore.

Grignaffini, G. e Pozzato, M. P. (a cura di), (2008), Mondi seriali. Percorsi semiotici nella fiction, Link, Milano, RTI (L’introduzione e il capitolo a cura dei dottorandi di semiotica dell’Università di Bologna).


Recommended readings and research material

Dusi, N., Eugeni, R.; Grignaffini, G. (eds.) (2020), "La serialità nell'era post-televisiva", Mediascapes Journal, n. 16.

Grasso, A. e Scaglioni, M. (2009), Arredo di serie. I mondi possibili della serialità televisiva americana, Milano, Vita e pensiero.

Mittell, J., (2017), Complex TV. Teoria e tecnica dello storytelling delle serie TV, Minimum Fax, Roma.

Piga Bruni, E. (2018), Romanzo e serie TV. Critica sintomatica dei finali, Pacini Editore, Pisa.

The students that will not attend the course will have to add to the list of mandatory texts:

Mittell, J., (2017), Complex TV. Teoria e tecnica dello storytelling delle serie TV, Minimum Fax, Roma.

Further references of essays and articles dedicated to the analysis of specific products will be provided during the course.

Teaching methods


The course will be structured according to an innovative method of teaching that foresees an active participation of the attending students. The course’s contents will be assimilated in a highly interactive exchange. After the first two weeks students will be invited to present to their peers a relevant case study. The schedule and topic of the presentations will be planned with the lecturer. Course attendance is highly recommended.

Assessment methods


The final test will be a paper whose topic will have to be agreed upon with the lecturer. The paper is meant to verify both the general knowledge provided during the first part of the course, and the ability to analyze a TV series. Students will have to demonstrate their ability to apply the analytical tools and concepts discussed throughout the course and illustrated in the mandatory texts.

Linguistic skills and the ability to devise a consistent argumentation will also be valued.

It will have to be of a maxiumun of 20.000 characters (approximately 10 pages) and will have to be handed in at least 10 days before the exam.

Teaching tools


Lectures will be supported by the softwares and multi media tools present in the Department's classrooms.

Office hours

See the website of Cristina Demaria