Complex TV: Orienting Paratexts

Jason Mittell's picture

I’m pleased to post the next chapter of Complex TV, focused on the topic of Orienting Paratexts. Here’s the abstract:

Along with shifts in the television industry and technologies, viewer practices have adapted to the digital era with new developments in how people consume narrative television. This chapter explores the range of paratexts that have emerged to help viewers make sense of complex television’s temporality, characters, plot, and spatial orientation, spanning a wide range of programs from St. Elsewhere to Game of Thrones. Through a detailed account of the fan wiki Lostpedia, I explore the complexity of how people watch television, and foreground notions of forensic fandom and drillability as modes of television spectatorship.

Of all the chapters in the book, this is the one which is most comprised of previously published or posted material (I promise the next will be unreleased material!). The first section was built on a talk I gave in the fall and posted here. Then I adapt & compress my essay on Lostpedia published in Transformative Works & Cultures. Finally, I poached from my piece on drillability that I wrote for Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford & Josh Green’s book on spreadable media (which won’t end up in the book directly, as it transformed during publication). I post these sources here not to suggest that this new chapter is redundant and derivative (that’s for you to judge), but to highlight how writing this book is very much a recursive process, weaving the old with the new and aiming to create something that feels unified and complete on its own. Did I succeed? Let me know in the comments!

As always, please offer feedback of any kind in the margins of the text, whether nitpicky copy edits, suggestive extensions or provocative condemnations – I welcome it all for this chapter, as well as the previously posted ones. Thanks in advance for reading & commenting.

Filed under: Books, Complex TV, Fandom, MediaCommons, Narrative, New Media, Television, TV Shows, Viewers Tagged: complex television, Lost, lostpedia, paratext

Jason Mittell

Publication date (from feed): 

Fri, 20 Apr 2012 07:38:15 +0000