Stoner Teaches Class About Sexual Diversity in Televison
Kyle Florence

This summer, the Division of Communication will be offering a new online course focused specifically on primetime television;’s portrayal of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.

“There are various periods that television and film have gone through,” said Assistant Professor of Public Relations Andrew Stoner, who will be teaching the course. “Essentially, we’re going to look at a historical perspective on some of the earliest portrayals of gays while also contrasting them with current representations.” Ultimately, the class will critically analyze the level or type of influence television has on societal issues and specific issues related to being gay in America.

According to Stoner, the course will be particularly beneficial to students as its subject matter is relevant in today’s society.

Stoner said, “We haven’t resolved all the issues with race and gender, but we still have a long way to go in regards to sexuality and sexual orientation, so it is a civil rights issue that is ever before us.”

Additionally, Stoner said that as this course will not focus only on entertainment genres of television. He said there are multiple connections to be made to existing areas of study.

“I think it would appeal to people across a variety of spectrums, not just those focused on mass media,” said Stoner. “I think this class can open up perspective and gives students examples and ideas about how to critically analyze the things they see and also understand history.”

Popular series such as “Will & Grace”, “Ellen!” and “Bewitched” are just three of many recognizable programs that students will examine throughout the course.

Professor Rhonda Sprague, who is both the associate dean and head of the Division of Communication, made clear that she is in strong support of this addition to the curriculum.

Sprague said, “I love the idea, it’s a very under-studied area, and it is very timely. I think it’s the kind of course that can draw a wide audience from the campus community while also reaching out to a larger population.”

Julie Schneider, who serves as the advisor for the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance, shares Sprague’s enthusiasm.

“I was really happy to see that class come up on the time table. Oftentimes, I think gender and sexuality is something that is ignored in the curriculum, so to have a whole class based around something as contemporary as LGBT characters in television is awesome. I’m glad that the comm department is that forward-enough thinking to include a class like this in their curriculum,” Schneider said.