Narrative

Jason Mittell's picture

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 »

Jason Mittell's picture

A second look at Lost’s low point

Jason Mittell's picture

Going Back to the Island

One of my summer projects has been rewatching Lost. When I started the show back in Fall 2004, my wife watched the pilot with me, but found it too creepy for her anti-horror tastes, so I’ve been viewing solo for the past five seasons. I finally convinced Ruth that the show rarely traffics in scares and horror, and we’ve been burning through the Blu-Rays for the last month. She got hooked halfway through the first season, so it’s been a win/win! ... read more »

Jason Mittell's picture

These Questions Need Answers: An essay on the Veronica Mars pilot

On my writing docket this summer were three essays that I’d committed to: a write-up of my SCMS presentation on Lostpedia (which will be coming out in Transformative Works & Cultures this fall), my piece on serial form and memory, and a long-delayed chapter for an anthology about the series Veronica Mars, edited by Sue Turnbull and Rhonda Wilcox. ... read more »

Jason Mittell's picture

Tell My Students What TV To Watch

I’m in the midst of drafting another long article, both to feed the blog and meet a lingering book chapter deadline, and head off-the-grid next week for some family vacation. But in the meantime, I’d like to crowdsource some brainstorming for my fall syllabus. I’ll be teaching Television & American Culture, a course I’ve taught many times and have working pretty effectively. ... read more »

Jason Mittell's picture

More thoughts on soap operas and television seriality

One of my most-clicked (if not read) posts concerns how my approach to prime time serial television relates to the traditional daytime soap opera. Last year I was asked to expand on those ideas via an interview to be included in a forthcoming anthology edited by Sam Ford, Abigail De Kosnik, and C. Lee Harrington, entitled The Survival of the Soap Opera: Strategies for a New Media Era (University of Mississippi Press, 2010). ... read more »

Jason Mittell's picture

Transmedia Storytelling in Television: A Student Thesis

One of the pleasures of working with Middlebury College students is advising independent work on their senior projects. While I don’t have the opportunity to work with graduate students on their dissertations, every once in awhile I have undergraduate students who do exemplary work that feels quite similar to a condensed version of the graduate thesis project. Typically they do great work, but the end result remains dormant, at best being read by a random browser in the Middlebury library. ... 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 »

Jason Mittell's picture

Picking up Deadwood

Jason Mittell's picture

Notes on Serial Forms conference

I spent part of last week on a quick, tiring, but exciting trip to Zurich. I was an invited presenter at University of Zurich’s conference on Serial Forms, a small but well-focused 3-day conference focused on serial narratives across a range of media. ... read more »