Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

Dr. Ethan Thompson

An Outstanding Islander

Outline photo of Dr. Ethan Thompson

That’s Entertainment
Dr. Ethan Thompson helps students realize that they have the power to change the world by becoming active participants in today’s media culture. The associate professor and coordinator of the Communication program, who specializes in television comedy and satire, arrived at the Island University in 2003. As a kid growing up in Port Aransas, Texas, he spent hours watching MTV and programs including “Saturday Night Live.” That’s when he learned television was not only entertainment, but could be used as a tool to connect to the outside world. Thompson, who encourages others to rethink their relationships to media culture, went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cinema-Television Critical Studies from the University of Southern California. In December 2010, Thompson published his book “Parody and Taste in Postwar American Television Culture,” which examines the boom in socially relevant humor that took place alongside the birth of television, analyzing and theorizing the production and consumption of television, parody and satire. He is co-editor of the 2009’s “Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era,” has written a series of columns for online television journal Flowtv.org, and published articles on television comedy which examine shows such as “South Park,” “King of the Hill” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” In October 2010, his op-ed article “Entertainment as Politics,” debating if satirists like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert help increase public engagement or add to voter cynicism, appeared in The New York Times. Thompson, a cultural critic and historian, was also quoted in articles for USA Today and Texas Monthly and was awarded a fellowship to attend the 2010 National Association of Television Programming Executives conference. He has taught numerous undergraduate and graduate courses including the “Media, War, and Meaning-Making” seminar for the Honors Program. In summer 2011, he will offer a new undergraduate seminar on satire. Currently, he is investigating how media convergence is changing comedy, and he also plans to write a cultural history of the sitcom.

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