Just TV

Thoughts on teaching theory to undergrads

Recently, my friend Annie Petersen took advantage of one of Twitter’s best functions for academics: crowdsourcing syllabus recommendations. Annie was looking for readings that provide a good introduction to semiotics, but are not impenetrable to novice students. ... read more »

Tarantula Boy and Surprise Memory

Last night’s Breaking Bad episode, “Dead Freight,” offers an interesting example of a phenomenon I’ve termed “surprise memory,” or the narrative effect of being surprised by something you know but have forgotten (or more accurately, allowed to be archived from your working memory). ... read more »

Skyler’s Story

One part of Breaking Bad‘s new season 5 that I’m finding most impressive is Skyler’s development. This is by no means a consensus opinion, as Skyler has long been the target of many Breaking Bad fans’ ire. ... read more »

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 »

NBC’s Primetime Olympics Coverage is Not Sportscasting

Like millions of others, I’ve had the Olympics on quite often over the past few days and will continue to care about sports that I know little about for another 11 days. And like thousands of others, I’ve enjoyed making fun of NBC’s erratic coverage, tape-delays, ethnocentrism, weak commentary, and inexplicable employment of Ryan Seacrest using the Twitter hashtag #NBCFail. ... read more »

Pre-publication and publicity

It’s been a quiet month on the blogging and writing front, as I’ve taken a break from Complex TV to undertake the big move from Germany back to Vermont, and take some time for family vacation. But I hope to return to the book later this week to respond to comments, post new chapters, and finish writing the manuscript over the rest of the summer before the pressures of teaching & chairing (and the continual parenting priorities) take over my time. ... read more »

An Outsider’s Look at German Academia

In my pre-Germany post, I mentioned that one of the goals of the year was to provide some “productive disorientation” on the aspects of life I take for granted back in Vermont. Now that I am in my last week in Germany, I can see it has certainly achieved that goal in a wide range of ways, both personal and professional. ... read more »

Complex TV: Character

My time in Germany is almost up, as we return to Vermont in early July. It’s been a productive writing year, with around 80% of Complex TV completed and a few other projects underway. Here is the last chapter of Complex TV to be posted from Germany, with the remaining chapters emerging over the Vermont summer. ... read more »

Unmotivated Reading as Work

One of the most circulated and discussed articles in online academic circles last week was Bruce Henderson’s Chronicle piece arguing for the importance of acknowledging reading as a key part of our scholarly labor. ... read more »

Feedback on Complex TV Pre-Publication

As regular readers know, I’ve been serializing my new book, Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling, in a pre-publication draft at MediaCommons. One of the goals of publishing the manuscript online like this is to challenge some of the norms of academic publishing and peer review, as advocated & modelled by Kathleen Fitzpatrick in her similarly pre-published book Planned Obsolescence. ... read more »