Serial Orientations

14Nov11

Last week, I traveled to Bochum, an industrial city in northwest Germany, to serve as a keynote speaker at the conference (Dis)Orientations: (dis)orienting media & narrative mazes. I enjoyed my time in Bochum and at the conference, connecting with some interesting European media scholars and exploring another German city and university.

My talk, “Serial Orientations: Mapping the Narrative Worlds of Contemporary Complex Television,” is from my book-in-progress, part of a chapter focused on paratexts used to help facilitate viewer understanding of serial television. Below is the text of my talk, which included a lot of visuals. Given that WordPress’s image embedding is high-maintenance, I’ve uploaded the slides to SlideShare, and if you’d like to follow along, you can read through the talk with the visuals in another window.

As always, feedback is welcome!

Serial Orientations: Mapping the Narrative Worlds of Contemporary Complex Television

Throughout its history, we might consider “accessibility” to be the defining feature of commercial American television. Per the medium’s commercial goals, any program’s success would be judged by its ability to attract, retain, and grow its viewership, which could then be converted into the currency of Nielsen ratings and sold to advertisers. The programming strategies that emerged to support this system of popular appeal have been termed “least objectionable content” or more dismissively, “lowest common denominator.” In short, a television producer’s first job is to avoid alienating potential viewers. In terms of cultural meanings, this edict manifests itself with programming that seeks to offer a brand of political consensus rather than divisive partisanship, programs that celebrate and reassure the status quo over challenging it. At the level of textual form, television is designed to look and sound familiar within well-established norms, assuring that viewers will know how to make sense of what they see and hear. And at the base level of narrative comprehension, television must be easy enough to follow in order to make sense to casual viewers.

Of course, the history of the medium is peppered with exceptional programs that violate these comfortable consensus strategies, and many of the medium’s most successful programs challenge television’s political and formal norms: think of I Love Lucy, Dragnet, All in the Family, M*A*S*H, Hill Street Blues, Roseanne, The Simpsons, among many others. Yet for all of the ways that such shows challenged viewers politically and strived for formal innovations, they all retained the baseline goal of easy viewer comprehension. I would argue that innovative programming seeking to challenge the ease with which a casual viewer might make sense of a program is a relatively new phenomenon, dating back to the 1990s with innovators like Seinfeld, Twin Peaks, and The X-Files, and typifying an increasingly common model of television storytelling that I have termed “narrative complexity.” Narratively complex programs invite temporary disorientation and confusion, allowing viewers to build up their comprehension skills through long-term viewing and active engagement.

In this presentation, I will not focus on defining narrative complexity or highlighting its storytelling strategies, but instead want to consider how viewers make sense of complex serial forms through practices of orientation and mapping, primarily through the creation of orienting paratexts. Arguably, most orientation practices involve the creation of paratexts, whether in the tangible form of maps and lists, or more ephemeral processes of conversation, as orienting ourselves in relationship to the narrative world places us outside the core text itself. In thinking about the range of orientation practices that television viewers embrace today, we encounter a mass of strategies and paratextual modes that can be rather… disorienting. So today I would like to embrace categorization, one of the chief tactics of orientation, to chart out how television viewers grapple with narrative complexity in a wide range of ways. I make no claims for comprehensiveness or even internal consistency with my categories, as many practices overlap in ways that muddy the best efforts of the taxonomist. But hopefully a tentative list of orientation practices will help us understand the wide range and breadth of what viewers do on a daily basis to consume contemporary serial narratives.

Let’s start with a simple definition of narrative to help orient our orientation: a television serial creates a sustained narrative universe, populated by a consistent set of characters who experience a chain of events over time. Thus a serial narrative presents four basic storytelling facets that might require orientation: time, events, characters, and space. These four landmarks provide a top level set of categories for how viewers make sense of television narratives—to comprehend an ongoing story, we need to be able to follow each of these elements. And thus these categories will provide the roadmap for my presentation.

The first category of time is arguably the most central aspect of serial narrative, as seriality is defined by manipulating time as a storytelling variable—we consume the story in installments defined by the creators and experience mandatory gaps between episodes and seasons to process the narrative. Elsewhere, I have categorized the timeframes of television storytelling into the three layers of story time, plot time, and screen time; each of these potentially requires orientation practices (Mittell, 2010). The last of these seems most obvious, but it points to a central issue in viewer orientation: we need to know when an episode is on, and in what order we are supposed to watch them. Traditionally in American television, the order in which episodes air was a minor concern for primetime programs, as networks might choose to air episodes in unusual times or sequence depending on their competition or other mitigating factors. Syndicated reruns rarely aired a series in its original sequence, meaning that viewers were likely to encounter a program in haphazard order, and thus storytellers adapted to the lack of guaranteed sequence by avoiding story arcs that surpass the length of a given episode, a practice that still lives on in most episodic police procedurals and many sitcoms.

With the profusion of cable channels and other viewing technologies in the 1990s and beyond, the industry developed ways to orient viewers’ sense of screen time, notably through the onscreen Electronic Program Guide. Viewers adapted their own ways of navigating screen time by cataloguing episodes and airdates on websites like epguides.com or show-specific sites, and employed technologies like the Digital Video Recorder to structure their viewing. And the rise of boxed sets or downloadable purchases provide another technology to orient viewers to screen time, as the structure of seasons and episode order are foregrounded. Together, we see the use of schedule as orientation to help viewers master a base chronology of screen time that while seemingly obvious, is essential to being able to comprehend an ongoing complex serial.

While screen time follows a fairly rigid set of boundaries and structures, plot time is much more variable and free-flowing, especially in shows with complex chronology. Understanding how nested flashbacks, replays, flash forwards, and other atemporal shifts play out on shows like How I Met Your Mother or FlashForward require dedicated attention to details and chronicling of markers of temporal continuity, often through elaborate plot summaries on official network or fan websites. Certainly a contender for television’s most complex chronology would be Lost, whose varying timeframes led to numerous graphic and textual representations proliferating both on and offline, including both fan-created images and officially sanctioned paratexts on ABC’s website or in DVD releases. Shows do not need to embrace time travel to warrant such use of chronology as orientation, as fans of a series like Battlestar Galactica chart its narrative through diagrams that help guide viewers to understand both the sequence of events and temporal relationship between various onscreen representations.

Plot time refers to the sequence and selection of the narrative material presented to the audience, while story time comprises the actual events taking place in the narrative universe. For shows with tight chronology, reconciling between story and screen time can be a challenge, requiring strategies to orient the show’s timeframe. For instance, Breaking Bad lacks the sci-fi temporal play of Lost, but it is important to keep in mind that the events of the first four seasons only take up one year of story time in order to understand the consequences and stakes of dramatic events that remain fresh in characters’ minds. For the historical realism of Mad Men’s 1960s to resonate, fans use timelines to parallel the fictional events with historical moments that are mentioned in the show or left unsaid in the subtext. Such use of calendaring as orientation helps us follow an unfolding narrative in a way that foregrounds a realist sense of a persistent storyworld with consequences and history, a fairly new development in television narrative.

Even when the storyworld is not realistic in the least, mapping chronology and calendars can be a crucial orientation strategy. Probably the most complicated timeline on television today is the “timey-wimey” playfulness of Doctor Who, especially in the title character’s ongoing relationship to fellow time-traveller River Song. Fans have created numerous visual representations of the bidirectional relationship experienced by River and The Doctor, attempting to match-up their experiences and chart the key moments in their story, a strategy that the characters themselves perform on the show by synching up their journals and memories whenever they meet. Of course this is not the exclusive domain of fans, as the BBC produced their own orientation material in the form of an online video chronicling River Song’s story narrated from her own perspective and timeframe. This video highlights how the process of orientation is an element of both official and unofficial production, and can be presented in a range of media, not just graphic timelines or textual lists.

One of the most interesting ways that fans create orientation tools is through the use of video remixes, recasting the temporality of the original series in innovative ways. Two Lost projects speak to the varied approaches fans take to remixing chronology. In the online video Lost: The Synchronizing, a fan took footage depicting moments of the plane crash from across three seasons and multiple perspectives, editing them together via split screen to synch the chronology and highlight how these moments converge into the show’s most important narrative event. At a larger scale, another fan created ChronologicallyLost.com to distribute his re-edited version of the series in chronological order in 45 minute episodic installments, starting with the origin of Jacob and The Man in Black from “Across the Sea,” and moving forward through the island’s time jumps, character flashbacks, plane crash, escape and return, and finally ending with the final season’s flash sideways as an epilogue. While I doubt that such extensive remix projects work to orient confused viewers like a timeline or map, they do serve as analytic forms of orientation, providing insights via rethinking the show’s narrative timeframe.

So like any complex taxonomy, we need more than one axis to categorize practices of viewer orientation—it’s not just “what” is being oriented (time vs. space), but also “how” the orientation proceeds. One type of orientation practice aims for recapitulation, summarizing narrative material in a straightforward manner like the calendar or chronological list of events. Another practice embraces a mode of analysis, exploring narrative material via a representational mode, typically a visual map or video, that offers an analytic dimension to the representation that goes beyond recapitulation. While analytic orientations aim to better understand what is happening within the text, orientations of expansion look outward extratextually to connect the series with other realms beyond the core program, whether it is another fictional series or aspects of the real world. These three modes, which certainly can blur and blend together, are forms of practice that can be applied to the various objects of narrative comprehension, creating a matrix of orientation practices.

These three modes of orientation practice can be applied to other narrative dimensions beyond time as well. Narrative events are closely linked to time, as they are typically thought about in terms of “what happens when,” and attempting to orient oneself to story events often involves chronology and temporal causation. Plot recapitulations are commonplace orientation tools, whether the now ubiquitous “previously on” segments preceding most episodes, or write-ups on official network websites or fansites aiming to provide a clear summation of an episode’s narrative events. Such textual recaps are abstractions as well, as the conversion of televisual material into prose is just as much of a transformation as visual or video remixes. However, some event analyses detach narrative events from their chronology to create a different perspective on the story, such as lists of character deaths found on various series wikis to more visual depictions, like an infographic poster documenting Dexter’s dozens of murders, charting weapons, motives, and interrelations between victims. Such analytic reinterpretations take a series of narrative events and explore them for greater understanding of causality, significance, or even basic comprehension, and can be pursued within the realm of remix videos. For instance, Breaking Bad’s next-to-last episode of season four, “End Times,” left some ambiguities as to who was responsible for poisoning a child; a fan took to YouTube to offer an interpretation of the narrative events to (correctly) argue that Walter White was responsible, piecing together scenes from the episode providing clues and evidence that proved what would only be revealed in the next episode. Such analytic abstractions and reinterpretations function as sites of forensic fandom, enabling viewers to make greater sense or propose new explanations of the narrative events beyond chronology and recapitulation.

Plot expansions aim to contextualize the events in a series into a larger intertextual web, most typically by connecting what happens in a fictional series to the real world. For instance, Treme depicts life in post-Katrina New Orleans, with many fictionalized versions of real people and events; bloggers and journalists, most notably Dave Walker from the New Orleans Times-Picayune, catalog and analyze the show’s cultural references, working to orient viewers to the factual basis of the fictional events. Sometime such real world connections are less analytical and more playful, like an image of Breaking Bad’s Walter White connecting him to the recent Occupy protest movement. More rare are examples of trying to connect the narrative events from one series to another fictional world—probably no orientation practice is as disorienting as the Tommy Westphall Universe theory. In the legendary conclusion to 1980s series St. Elsewhere, it was revealed that the entirety of the medical drama existed in the imagination of Tommy, an autistic child staring into a snowglobe. Because the series had a number of crossover episodes and intertextual references with other programs like Cheers, Homicide: Life on the Street, and The Bob Newhart Show, fans have posited that all of these other fictions are figments of Tommy’s imagination as well. Fans catalog these crossover events and create elaborate maps of an intertextual multiverse—as of now, the grid lists 282 programs ranging from I Love Lucy to The Wire. While such orientation practices are certainly not designed to help viewers truly make sense of fictional worlds, as the theory is clearly meant to be taken as playfully ludicrous, I would argue that fans do take it seriously—they get immersed in the intertextual web and passionately argue about interpretations concerning the validity of various connections. They know it’s not “real,” even within the fictional worlds of television, but many seriously embrace the practice of creating expansive paratexts as if it were “real,” playfully undertaking hypothetical analysis and conjecture similar to recent forms like alternate reality games.

The third type of narrative orientation seeks to understand a program’s cast of characters. For vast, sprawling series like The Wire, it is hard work keeping track of who’s who amongst the dozens of characters, many only known by nicknames or left unseen for long stretches of episodes. Character guides offer convenient overviews of dramatis personae in a manner common to theater goers, whether found on official websites or even tie-in books, or fan-created wikis or guides; the baseline goal of such guides is to orient us to the cast, placing faces with names and dramatic functions. Character analyses typically visualize narrative aspects via alternate means as a way of mapping relationships, developments, and personalities. For instance, Lost DVDs contained an interactive character guide to chart out the often coincidental connections between characters, and fans made similar maps to highlight inter-character links. Another fan paratext offers a visual rendering of the characters of Battlestar Galactica, charting their interactions and connections over the series, along with a dwindling baseline measuring “My Respect,” as a form of fan critique over the show’s perceived weak conclusion. Such analytic commentary can be mixed with a character guide, as in an interactive online Lost guide that features caricatures of each character, scalable by season, with pop-up boxes offering snarky summaries of the character’s actions and death—for instance, Jin’s recap reads “Total jerk to his wife when they got to the island, but later came around to become an all right dude…. Dead: Opted to stay with his trapped wife on a downed sub instead of raising their child. Very romantic.”

While certainly many fan paratexts aim for character reinterpretation, such as fan fiction and remix vids, I would not call most of those “orientation practices” per se, as they are less focused on making sense of the existing narrative world. A common mode of such fan creativity is intertextual expansion, bringing characters from multiple storyworlds together into a shared universe, a genre called “crossover fic.” It is fairly rare to see such character expansion clearly functioning as an orientation practice, although one example is a fun case of intertextuality: a number of fans have adopted the alignment system from the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, which charts a character’s morality on dual axes of good to evil and lawful to chaotic, and mapped them onto the cast of various television series. Examples range from the dysfunctional Bluth family on Arrested Development to the array of 1960s businessmen from Mad Men, but probably no show is more apt for such intertextual orientation than The Wire, given its thematic emphasis on morality and codes of conduct. Mapping out the characters on a game-based alignment chart invites discussion in the blog’s comment thread over the meaning of lawfulness and chaos in the context of The Wire, and whether characters like Avon and Omar can be seen as anything but evil due to their murderous ways. Such intertextual expansion is an invitation to rethink our impressions of the original series, orienting ourselves to a new way of categorizing and grouping the characters.

The final aspect of narrative that requires orientation is the most common to the practice of mapping: a spatial storyworld. While practices of mapping are well-suited to spatial orientation, it would seem that space is the dimension of television narrative that needs the least outside help for viewer comprehension. I would argue that temporality, plotting, and characterizations have all become more complex in contemporary television, but spatial storytelling is still fairly conventional and straightforward. Most programs follow well-established filmic conventions for orienting viewers spatially in any scene, with little sense of purposeful ambiguity and playfulness. If anything, space is the storytelling dimension that television is most willing to cheat on to maximize complexity in other realms; for instance, 24’s dedication to maintaining strict chronology and pseudo-realtime narration frequently led them to create spatial implausibilities, traversing Los Angeles and Washington DC traffic and geography at unrealistic speeds. While many fans will try to make sense of muddled chronology or plot continuity, such geographical incoherence in navigating a story space is typically only recognized by natives of a given city searching for spatial realism, suggesting that in the process of consuming serialized television, temporal consistency trumps spatial coherence.

Nevertheless, both viewers and the industry do invest energy in creating orienting paratexts for television series. For shows that feature a fantasy space, orientation maps are helpful paratexts to ground viewers in the show’s mythology, a common practice found in previous media like Tolkien’s novels of Middle Earth that included maps. Thus the science-fiction series Battlestar Galactica published a poster-size map of its cosmos, outlining the Twelve Colonies of Kobol with detailed mythological information and graphic depiction not covered by the show; the poster was even signed by series writer Jane Espenson as a marker of canonical authenticity. For fantasy series that do not produce their maps, fans typically fill the gaps, as typified by the vast array of Star Trek cartography that spans the franchise’s multiple series, and frequently facilitates fans moving from creating unofficial orientation paratexts into joining official production teams. Such fan mapping is part of a larger facet of affirmative fan productivity that Bob Rehak has labeled “blueprint culture,” as fans work to document the canonical facts established by a fantastic fictional franchise.

For programs based here on Earth, no tool has been more important to spatial orientation practices than Google Maps, as both fans and production teams create custom maps for dozens of series to show both shooting locations and addresses for fictional story sites. An interesting example is Seinfeld, as even though it was filmed primarily in Los Angeles, its New York City locale is a powerful part of the show’s narrative experience. Thus both Sony, the show’s production studio, and fans have created their own Seinfeld-themed Google Maps—while the map on Sony’s site features glossier visuals with embedded videos, not surprisingly the fan version is more comprehensive, including more than twice as many locations. Such maps then can translate into embodied practice, as fans explore the locales of their favorite series as part of the growing realm of media-themed tourism, with popular tours of places like The Sopranos’s New Jersey or the Mad Men “Time Machine” Tour of New York. The Seinfeld case is particularly interesting in terms of the blur between fact and fiction, as Kenny Kramer, Larry David’s old neighbor who was the real inspiration for the Cosmo Kramer character, entrepreneurially created Kramer’s Reality Tour that brings fans around New York to see the real places that inspired Seinfeld’s fictional version of the city, as filmed in Los Angeles. Unlike other media tourism like the New Zealand tours of “Middle Earth” via the Lord of the Rings filming locations, when television tourism focuses on an ongoing serial, it adds another experiential dimension, as fans may explore a space where they anticipate future narrative developments or even hope to see filming on-location. In these cases, maps and tours function less to orient fans to the fictional worlds than to extend those fictions into their real lives and allow them to momentarily inhabit their favorite storyworlds.

An interesting case study of the use of mapping within an ongoing series is Lost, which created a fantasy setting of a fictitious island whose geography is central to the narrative, and also is grounded within the interesting real-world island of its Hawaii shooting locale. Given the show’s huge participatory fanbase, it is not surprising that fans have created a detailed Google Map of Hawaii, with shooting locations catalogued by season, character, and fictional locale – and it’s equally unsurprising that Hawaian travel companies offer Lost tours as well. Google Maps also hosts a collaborative map of every real world locale referenced on Lost and its copious transmedia extensions, highlighting the show’s global reach despite nearly everything being shot in Hawaii. Google Maps is less helpful in orienting us to the fantasy geography of the show’s central location, although a number of fans have used it to chart potential sites for the mysterious island, including the use of the show’s mythological numbers of 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42 as geographic coordinates. But Lost’s forensic fandom is most active in its attempts to map the internal geography of the show’s fantastic island, requiring platforms beyond Google Maps.

Unlike Battlestar Galactica, the producers of Lost did not give us a clear rendering of the show’s fictional geography, even though maps are a central obsession of various characters and do appear onscreen quite frequently. Such brief appearances were copiously catalogued by the forensic fans at Lostpedia and numerous other fan sites dedicated to decoding the world of Lost, but no map is as indicative of how such practices straddle the line between orientation and disorientation as the cultural life of what fans have termed the “blast door map.” In the season two episode “Lockdown,” John Locke found himself trapped in an underground bunker with his leg pinned under a blast door. For a few moments, a black light turns on, revealing a hand-painted map on the back of the door that we see onscreen for no more than six seconds. The information contained within the map, as decoded collectively by fans only hours after the episode aired, pointed to deep mythological clues that resonated both in the show and across the transmedia extensions. John Locke himself attempts to reconstruct the map’s geographical revelations, but fell far short of what fans accomplished, aided by freeze-frame screengrabs and collective discussion forums. The map would reappear in transmedia versions four times with slight alterations and additional information, outlasting its role in the series itself. Through their forensic fandom, viewers got a preview of future hatches to be revealed, references to the backstory of the Hanso family and the Black Rock ship, and other minor clues to forthcoming puzzles.

However, I would contend that the blast door map’s least successful function was concerning spatial orientation, as the map provides little sense of scale or relationship between the outlined stations and the places we had seen on the island. Instead, the map functions more like a roster of places, names, and clues scrawled onto a wall, a to-do list for fans anticipating what might be revealed in future episodes. It provides a window into a number of character subjectivities, visualizing the mentalities of the map’s two authors-to-be-named later, Radinsky and Inman, who chronicle their limited mythological knowledge and island explorations under duress, as well as orienting us to John Locke’s obsessive quest to make sense of the briefly seen images. The map also charts narrative time and events, as we try to place the drawing’s creation into the island’s backstory and our own limited knowledge of the history of the DHARMA Initiative. Thus as fans worked to decode the multiple versions of the map, they arguably were less engaged with questions of spatial orientation than attempting to understanding the embedded representations of a fictional storyworld, refracted by still to-be-discovered characters and events.

This is not to say that Lost fans did not seek to create maps to spatially orient the island. A wide range of fan-created island maps emerged throughout the series, including illustrated schematics, topographic charts, and even 3D simulations. Like the schematics of the Enterprise, these are clearly attempts to render an unreal fantastic story space via the tools and assumptions of scientific realism. While we never saw Lost’s island explicitly change its shape or topography, we did see it move through time and space in a manner that suggests that realistic geography was low among the show’s priorities. The show’s commitments were more to the flexible realm of the fantasy genre than any notion of realism, yet fans strived to map a consistent geography onto the island; such conflicts between the rational realms of science fiction and more spiritual and irrational concerns of fantasy were an echo of one of Lost’s main thematic debates between science and faith, and became a key point of contention that I’ve discussed in the context of the show’s finale.

Lost points toward one final dimension of orientation that transcends time and space: the concept of dimensions themselves. As narrative complexity has opened up possibilities of time and space in serialized storytelling, it has occasionally explored notions of parallel worlds or multiple dimensions, issues that have emerged more commonly in complex films like Lola Rennt, Sliding Doors, and Inception. The final season of Lost was one of the highest profile television examples of such storytelling—abandoning the flashback structure typical of the show’s first three seasons, the fourth season’s flash forwards, and the fifth season’s frequently jumping time traveling, the sixth season introduced what producers and fans called “flash sideways.” In almost every episode, action would toggle between the endgame being played out on the island, and a seemingly parallel dimension where Flight 815 never crashed, most of the characters had drastically different lives, and seemingly the island was sunk at the bottom of the ocean. Not surprisingly, forensic fans were both frustrated with and excited by the challenges of orienting themselves to this dimension, especially since the actual explanation for what the world was and how it related to the main storyworld were not revealed until the final minutes of the series finale. Scanning the edit history and discussions on Lostpedia on the entry for the Flash Sideways Timeline documents dozens of fans working for months, debating issues of chronology, character, and even ontology for this aspect of the story—and finally when all was revealed, arguing over whether to delete the whole article due to the temporal ambiguities that remain in the sideways dimension.

The case of Lost’s sixth season points to one of the particular challenges that emerges at the intersection of narrative complexity and seriality: as storyworlds grow more complicated and challenging, they require greater attention to ensure comprehension. But orientation practices for an ongoing serial are charting out a storyworld that is still evolving as they are being created and consumed, forcing viewers to try to map a moving terrain. We watched hours of flash-sideways stories without knowing how to orient ourselves to this fictional world, relative to the storyworld that many fans had invested a great deal of time and energy mapping and documenting. While few examples are as acute as Lost, a danger of all complex serials is that we won’t realize what is vital for maintaining our orientation until all of a show’s mysteries and outcomes are revealed.

So after taking some time to chart our a wide array of orientation practices, do we feel any more oriented? In other words, so what? What do these categories teach us about contemporary media practices? First, I think it is significant that they are happening at all, as it stands as proof not only that viewers are actively engaging in television viewing (which we have known for decades), but that today’s television outright demands that viewers stretch beyond the time and space of their initial viewing to try to make sense of what they have seen. It’s not just that audiences are active, but that texts are explicitly activating, designed to stimulate viewers, strategically confuse them, and force them to orient. While some of these practices fill in textual gaps designed by creators, most go far beyond that, taking orientation practices into the realm of fan creativity and transformational fandom—such practices highlight the ways that making maps and charts is fun, whether it’s charting a fictional geography onto a real space or positing that the entirety of television is happening inside a boy’s imagination.

Finally, these orientation practices help us understand the ways that television has embraced narrative complexity, and the areas where it might still look to develop. Clearly there is much experimentation with complex plots and time schemes, and character relationships have always been a fertile ground for serial complexity. However, there is comparatively little experimentation in terms of innovative spatial storytelling, so if we were to predict where another wave of narrative innovation might come, I’d look to how serial storytelling plays with space. And for us meta-mappers charting the orientation practices used by serial creators and viewers, we must keep attending to this shifting terrain that is still emerging in the ongoing development of television as a complex storytelling medium.

Works Cited (but not linked)

Jason Mittell, Television and American Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 223-25.



3 Responses to “Serial Orientations”

  1. Hey Jason, thanks for sharing this. Really excited to read the book this is flowing into, and looking forward to your talk in Hannover in December.


  1. 1 Awake teaches us how to watch and accept « Just TV
  2. 2 Complex TV: Orienting Paratexts « Just TV

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