Narrative

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I Went Back to Ohio

Weather willing, I’ll be traveling this week to give a pair of talks. So in lieu of actual content, here’s the info for any Ohio-based readers if you’d like to attend either presentation: ... read more »

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Teaching Narrative Through Remix

I’m writing from the grading bunker, which seems like a fine place to contemplate the purpose of assignments we give our students. Usually, my assignments are fairly conventional in both form and goal, looking to synthesize specific ideas from the course in a way that allows students to apply them to an object or topic that interests them. ... read more »

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Thankful for Terriers

I’d like to interrupt this unplanned blog hiatus – yes, it’s been one of those semesters – to give thanks for this year’s best new show: Terriers. I’d been planning on posting a blog about Terriers after a few episodes, but I’m glad I got too busy to write it, as the show has transformed into something much more engaging and powerful since then. What started out as a shaggy good time has emerged into taught double character study packing a surprise emotional wallop. ... read more »

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Bordwell on Television (and me on film)

Yesterday, David Bordwell blogged about television watching, and the reasons why he generally doesn’t do it (at least made-for-television fiction – he obviously watches many films on his television screen). Soon, my Twitter feed was all atwitter with anxiety about how Bordwell (one of the major figures in film studies, if you don’t know) was bashing television, and a couple of people directly asked me if I would respond. So here are some meandering thoughts in reply. ... read more »

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Rewatching Breaking Bad

As the summer wanes, it’s my annual time to look back at all the things I failed to accomplish. It’s been an excellent summer, marked by quality family time, enjoyable trips, house projects, and general low-stress fun (including a successful immersion into the best videogame I’ve played in a long time, Red Dead Redemption). But for many academics, summer is the designated time for getting things done that require concentrated time and attention – and in that regard, I fell short of my goals, especially in the desire to blog. ... read more »

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On Disliking Mad Men

As a scholar and fan of contemporary narratively complex television serials, one of my blindspots has been Mad Men, a show about which I’ve mentioned on this blog has little appeal to me. Thus it was a bit surprising months ago when I was invited to contribute to a forthcoming book of collected essays on the show – the editors knew that I didn’t like the show, and wanted me to write about why. I accepted the invitation as a kind of challenge, and the results are posted below. ... read more »

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Fiske Matters

I am writing from a classroom that I spent many hours in in the 1990s, in Vilas Hall at University of Wisconsin. The occasion is Fiske Matters, a conference in honor of the ten-year anniversary of John Fiske’s retirement from academia. John was one of my graduate school mentors, and a key touchstone in both my research and teaching – and for those who don’t know the discipline, he is one of the major figures in creating the field of media studies in American in the 1980s. ... read more »

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Lost’s Lingering Questions

The finale of Lost, “The End,” has generated much online chatter, both pro and con, about its various layers of ambiguity. Many fans are griping because it neglected mythological answers in favor of showing us what happened to our characters and their relationships. And many are crying shenanigans over potential contradictions and confusion in the finale’s events, especially in the final scenes. And some are just haters, relishing the perverse pleasure found within their blackened souls. ... read more »

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A Lost Week of Questioning Answers

This past week was exam week for students, which means limbo for faculty waiting for final assignments to flood in, but few scheduled obligations for my time. Alas instead of focusing on my growing to-do list of projects, I’ve spent a huge amount of time obsessing about the concluding chapters of Lost. ... read more »

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Why a book?

I’ve just finished the fifth and final day of the marathon Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in LA, and it was by far one of the best large-scale conferences I’ve ever been to. I attended no bad panels, and only a couple of weak papers – which is pretty rare! Either I got really lucky, my standards have dropped, or the quality of the conference was strong (let’s be generous and assume the third). ... read more »