The Wire

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The Qualities of Complexity: Aesthetic Evaluation in Contemporary ...

This is a busy week for the Popular Seriality group I’m working with here in Göttingen. First, we took over In Media Res for a series of posts about seriality – my own contribution was on Wednesday, focused on Breaking Bad and how it constructs character interiority through serial memory. Head over and join the conversation! ... read more »

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Preparing for The End: Metafiction in the Final Seasons of The Wire ...

I’m in New Orleans for the annual conference of the Society for Cinema & Media Studies. I’m actually blogging the conference for the society’s new official website, an experiment in covering a conference from the ground from the perspective of four participants – you need to login to read the blogs, but if you’re not an SCMS member, you can register for a guest account to get short-term access. ... read more »

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Some nice press on my Wire class

Just a quick post to link to a couple of nice pieces about my class (and others) exploring The Wire. ... read more »

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The Wire in the context of American television

In teaching my course on The Wire last year, I had my students do collaborative research & writing projects on various “contexts” that the show engages with, such as urban education, the drug war, and Baltimore history. This year, I’ve decided not to use that assignment – in part because the old projects are still online, and because I’ve thought of other assignments to try.

But I am having them read the first contextual essay from last year, one that I wrote about the relationship of the show to 21st century television. It’s nothing that warrants publication in more formal academic outlets, but I thought it would be useful pedagogically for other people teaching the show or just for a basic background for fans who might stumble upon my blog. So beneath the fold, I’m “reprinting” it here from my course site. As always, I welcome feedback and comments to improve the material. ... read more »

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Serial Boxes

Last summer, I was invited as a keynote presenter for a conference on serial form at the University of Zurich – I blogged previously about the conference and my presentation. Now the conference organizers are publishing the proceedings, translating all of the English papers into German. Since I spoke off an outline, I needed to write up the whole essay, which involved a lot of updating and rethinking in light of my recent Lost rewatch, taking most of my non-grading work time in December and early January. Below is a draft of the essay, entitled “Serial Boxes: The Cultural Values of Long-Form American Television” – as always, any feedback is welcome!

... read more »

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The Wire is to Van Morrison as Lost is to The Beatles

It’s been an odd fall for this blog – despite a tremendous surge in page views (prompted by my posts on running a faculty search at Middlebury), I’ve had virtually nothing to say about television (or much else, due to the time spent on that search and other administrative & teaching tasks). Hopefully the next couple of weeks will rectify that, as I join the throng of TV critics posting Best Of lists for both the year and decade, spread out over a few posts. ... read more »

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Reflections on Teaching The Wire

First, I should indulge in self-promotion to link to this well-done profile of me and the Film & Media Culture program at Middlebury, from the local free weekly, Seven Days. Aside from reminding me of my rapidly graying hair, I’m quite happy with how it turned out! ... read more »

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Previously On: Prime Time Serials and the Mechanics of Memory

As is typical for me at the end of the school year, my to-do list has a pile of publishing projects that I’ve put off to the last minute. So I’ve spent the last month knocking things off the list with general success – I revised an essay on Lostpedia that will be coming out in the next issue of Transformative Works and Cultures, and contributed a short piece to a roundtable on genre for Mediascape.

But my main writing has been focused on an essay for an anthology called Intermediality & Storytelling co-edited by Marie-Laure Ryan and Marina Grishakova. I proposed to adapt my presentation given at last summer’s Society for the Cognitive Study of the Moving Image conference; as I blogged last year, my presentation explored how American prime time television copes with the challenges of cuing viewers’ long-term memories, which often catalog years of story material. Alas my presentation was oral/slide only, so I spent the past couple of weeks converting it to essay form.

Beneath the fold I’ve included the entire essay, and would appreciate any comments, as I’ll have a chance to revise before publication. I’m particularly interested if my examples, which include moments from Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Six Feet Under, Veronica Mars, Arrested Development, The Wire, and many more shows, make any sense to readers who haven’t seen the relevant programs. And as it’s written for an international anthology not primarily focused on television, I’ve included a bit of industrial and technological context that will might be fairly redundant for anyone reading a blog called Just TV. ... read more »

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Picking up Deadwood

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Interview with Dr. Jason Mittell on April 29 2009

My interview with Jason Mittell is up and I wanted to give you all a few links. First, his terrific blog. It’s littered with observations about narrative and television. More extensive writings are here. His syllabus for Watching the Wire is very interesting and worth your attention.