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Lecture to discuss roots of primetime TV

March 3, 2006

Coastal Carolina University professor Dan Ennis will probe the roots of primetime TV in a lecture on Wednesday, March 15 at 7 p.m. titled From Sheridan to Seinfeld: The 18th-Century Dramatic Roots of Prime Time Television.

The free lecture, scheduled as a part of the universitys Cultural Controversies series, is being held at Coastals Waccamaw Higher Education Center at 160 Willbrook Blvd., west of U.S. 17 next to the Hampton Inn in Litchfield.

Ennis is currently writing a book about Richard Brinsley Sheridan and has done extensive research about the Irish-born playwright, who owned a successful theater in London.

He was really the first to put news, comedy and drama together, Ennis said. He was deep in debt and was trying to bring in audiences. So he tried something new. The lecture will discuss how that pattern of entertainment has evolved since the 1770s. Primetime television today has those three elements as well.

The lecture, which will be highlighted with images, examines the transition of the English stage from the Shakespearean model (afternoon, outdoor presentation of a single play) to the playbill structure and how that model developed through the 18th and 19th centuries. Ennis will also address the reemergence of this theme in television programming of today.

Ennis is an associate professor of English. He earned a bachelors degree in English from the College of Charleston, a masters in English from Appalachian State University and a doctorate in English from Auburn University. He is the author of a book, Enter the Press-Gang: Representations of Naval Impressment in Eighteenth-Century British Literature (2002, University of Delaware Press), and has published articles on 18th-century literature and culture in a number of academic journals.

Cultural Controversies is the fourth such series sponsored by the Board of Visitors of Coastals Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts. These community dialogues are designed to involve area citizens and Coastal faculty members in discussions about significant issues.

For more information call the Waccamaw Higher Education Center at (843) 349-4030.