Join the Department of Childhood Studies on September 19, 2023, beginning at 12:45 p.m. in the conference room at 329 Cooper Street for a talk by Helle Strandgaard Jensen titled, “As culture free as TV can be.” Exporting Sesame Street to the World.
Sesame Street “contains universally acceptable material, much of it already tested on audiences outside the United States, and is as nearly ‘culture free’ as TV can be.” This was the claim of the producers of the hit show in the 1970s. However, contrary to the producers’ oft-publicized claims of Sesame Street’s universality, this talk will, based on research in seven different countries, demonstrate how a fixed set of American assumptions about childhood, education, and commercial entertainment heavily shaped the show. I will show how this made sales difficult as Sesame Street met both skepticism and direct hostility from foreign television producers who did not share these ideals. Drawing on insights from new histories about childhood, education, and transnational media, I outline a cultural clash of international proportions rooted in divergent approaches to children’s television.
Helle Strandgaard Jensen is Associate Professor in the Department of History and Classical Studies at Aarhus University, Denmark. She is the author of From Superman to Social Realism: Children’s Media and Scandinavian Childhood. She holds a Ph.D. in History from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, and has been a visiting fellow at universities in the UK, the US, Norway, and Sweden. Her work has appeared in Media History; Journal of Children and Media; Media, Culture & Society; Journal for the History of Childhood and Youth; The Programming Historian, and elsewhere. She holds a shared directorship at the Center for Digital History Aarhus.
Date & Time
September 19, 2023
12:45 pm-1:45 pm
329 Cooper St.