Complex TV has arrived!


I’m holding in my hand a copy of my new book, Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling.

Complex TV selfie

Every book is its own unique journey. This one feels like the longest (which it was) and most significant, at least intellectually if not professionally. I presented the earliest version of the ideas that would eventually form the spine of the book over ten years ago, at a colloquium at Middlebury College, where my friend and colleague Michael Newbury made the hugely influential suggestion that I check out Neil Harris’s concept of the operational aesthetic as a parallel to what I was describing about television storytelling. I published the first essay that would chart the book’s vector in 2006, as “Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television,” which definitely came out at the right time and place to generate a lot of enthusiasm and momentum for this project.

Even though over the past 10 years I wrote a different book and edited another, Complex TV has been the project that has occupied most of my thinking, that fueled my work during my wonderful year in Germany, and that framed my identity as a scholar. The overthinking pessimist in me thinks about the hole that its completion creates, the absence of scholarly identity and drive that has yet to be filled. But the rest of me shouts that side down, as I’m eager to celebrate the book’s launch at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference this week in Montreal and enjoy the sense of completion.

I want to briefly focus on the book’s paratexts, as I am as proud of how the book has been published as I am of the content. As many of you know, I wrote the book in public, posting each chapter to MediaCommons and soliciting open peer review throughout 2012-13. I’m happy to say that the MediaCommons draft of the book will remain online for the foreseeable future, serving both as an open access version of the book’s ideas and evidence of the writing process. Hopefully this will help demonstrate that making a book’s content available online for free helps rather than hurts a book’s sales. (Feel free to add to that evidence via NYU Press, Amazon, or your favorite bookseller!)

MediaCommons hosted the pre-print paratext, but I have created another site for the book, collecting supplementary videos of scenes that I reference and discuss in the book. The videos are hosted on Critical Commons, which is an essential site for sharing fair use video content. But the supplementary site is published in Scalar, an incredibly rich tool developed at USC for multimedia interactive publishing. I’m really happy with how the site turned out, combining quotes from the book and videos via a number of interfaces. I particularly like this gallery view, representing the book in thumbnail form.

Complex TV video gallery

So now my work is done. I leave it to the readers to explore the book and its paratexts, and please let me know what you think!

One Response to “Complex TV has arrived!”

  1. 1 Christine Geraghty

    congratulations Jason! Look forward to reading it.

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