To Be Continued | Jason Mittell on Serial Criticism

AK_PosterOn June 6, Jason Mittell, Associate Professor of Film and Media Culture and American Studies at Middlebury College, delivered the keynote lecture at the Popular Seriality Conference in Göttingen, Germany.

Mittell, who had had spent a year with the Popular Seriality Research Unit in Göttingen, explores the stakes of “the ends” of serial narratives, both how they conclude and how they make meaning—or how audiences make meaning from them. In addition to discussing scenes and thematic threads from television shows such as The Wire, Homeland, and Breaking Bad, he asks:

“Why do serials seem to embrace reflexive meta-storytelling so often in their final seasons, and can this explain why I feel so inclined to talk more about my experiences and process rather than actually presenting my research? Television creators seem to become hostages to their own storyworlds by the final season, so embedded in the process of storytelling that they feel the need to use fiction as an outlet to explore their own experiences, as well as offering closing arguments to prove the relevance and missions of their series.”

You can read the entirety of Mittell’s “The Ends of Serial Criticism” at his blog Just TV.

The Essay: Remixed for Video

Founded and tenderly curated by Catherine Grant, the Vimeo group Audiovisualcy provides a forum for video essays that illuminate, interrogate, and often radically reinterpret film texts.

Venturing into "The Badlands" of Media

Although some Audiovisualcy pieces or series mimic the formats of written expository essays, many videos use cinematic art as a platform for their own creative experiments. Contributors, including Middlebury College professors Jason Mittell and Christian Keathley, mobilize the film medium in order to infuse theoretical insights with refreshing playfulness. Whether matching Herrmann’s Vertigo score to Pixar films or spatially reorganizing a Griffith short, Audiovisualcy not only mines the scholarly side of entertainment, but also reminds us that scholarship may and perhaps should be entertaining, as well.

Particularly recommended are Catherine Grant’s “Touching the Film Object?,” Jim Emerson’s “Close Up: A Critical Essay/Dream Sequence,” and Frederic Brodbeck’s “Cinemetrics.”