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Sesame Street: A Transnational History

Add to calendar 2023-04-13 15:00 2023-04-13 17:00 Europe/Rome Sesame Street: A Transnational History Sala del Torrino Villa Salviati - Castle YYYY-MM-DD


13 April 2023

15:00 - 17:00 CEST


Sala del Torrino

Villa Salviati - Castle

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In this talk, Helle Strandgaard Jensen (Aarhus University) will present her new book "Sesame Street: A Transnational History".

In the talk, Jensen will tell the story of how the American television show became a global brand. She will take us behind the scenes, detailing how she has combined archival research from seven countries and theories of comparative, transfer and global history, into an insightful analysis of how local reception and rejection of the show related to the global sales strategies and American ideals it was built upon. 

Contrary to the producers' oft-publicized claims of Sesame Street's universality, the show was heavily shaped by a fixed set of assumptions about childhood, education, and commercial entertainment. 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, the book lays bare a cultural clash of international proportions rooted in divergent approaches to children's television. In doing so, it provides a reflective backdrop to the many ongoing debates about children's media.

In contrasting the positive receptions and renunciations of Sesame Street, Jensen demonstrates that it was only after a substantial rethinking of Sesame Street's aims and business model that this program ended up on numerous broadcasting schedules by the mid-1970s. Along the way, this rethinking and the constant negotiations with potential international buyers created and shaped the business and corporate brand that paved the way for the Sesame Street we know today.


Francesca Parenti


Helle Strandgaard Jensen (Aarhus University)

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