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‘Twilight’ Time

Anthropology course focuses on themes found in classic TV series

Story Series
News Feature

Each week a group of students leaves the Moakley Center to enter another dimension, “a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination.”

Sounds interesting. So, where are they headed exactly? 

Some call it the fifth dimension, for others it is better known as The Twilight Zone.

Housed in Bridgewater State University’s anthropology department, Dr. Walter Harper’s writing intensive course takes a closer look at Rod Serling’s anthology television series, The Twilight Zone, which ran from 1959 to 1964. 

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Each week, students watch a 23-minute episode of the classic science fiction show, and then participate in a class discussion. Harper and the students draw upon themes within each episode that correlate to issues citizens face today, some 50 years after the show first aired. 

 “What I find fascinating is these issues still come up today – loneliness and alienation – especially for young people who aren’t feeling connected, who aren’t feeling part of anything on some level, or aren’t sure what their part in society is, and how it doesn’t make sense or speak to their particular experience,” Harper said. books

The professor also uses books written by historians and film scholars to explore the role television plays in American culture. 

Many students were attracted to the class simply due to the course’s title. 

“I knew what the Twilight Zone was but had never watched an episode. My father is a fan and told me if I ever get the chance, I should try and watch it,” said special education and psychology major Abby Villano, ’22. 

After viewing an episode where the lead character is confined to living on an asteroid for 50 years and develops a relationship with a robot, students talked about human relationships. 

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Like the character, many admitted they are lonely and discussed the effect that has when establishing relationships.

Another episode featured middle-class neighbors turning on each other after losing electricity and other modern comforts. Human nature, the Cold War, mob mentality and class structure were topics that surfaced among the students post-viewing.  

“The discussions we have are absolutely amazing. We go into great depth,” said criminal justice major Brady Liss, ’21. “It’s interesting that the show can still relate to everyday life.”

Harper encourages interested students to sign up early as The Twilight Zone is often maxed out and requires a wait list. The course is offered during the fall semester.

For more information email the professor at harper@bridgew.edu. (Photos also by Heather Harris Michonski)

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