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Complex TV: Comprehension

It’s been a dormant month of July on the book-writing/publishing front, as I’ve been busy returning from my year abroad in Germany, settling back in Vermont, and having some family vacation time. I do hope to resume writing and pre-publication, as I have only a few more chapters left to go before I’ve got a full draft of Complex TV ready to submit to NYU Press. So I’ll start out August by posting the next chapter, focused on issues of narrative comprehension. ... read more »

Jason Mittell's picture

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 »