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Short Circuit: Brevity and the short form in serial television

Publié par Marion Coste le 27/01/2018
Journée d'études
Quand ? Le 05/02/2018, de 09:30 à 17:30
Où ? Université de Bourgogne

As critics, creators and academics alike herald the new “Golden Age” of television, the accent has increasingly been placed on the excess inherent in the form, the temptation to “binge-watch” a single fiction over several hours, or the proliferation of narratives and storylines in American television’s “endless present” (which, unlike its British equivalent, is not traditionally designed to end at any specific point). Melissa Ames (Time in Television Narrative: Exploring Temporality in Twenty-First-Century Programming, 2012) reminds us however that time is at the very center of the television narrative, and that television differs from its cinematic equivalent notably by its incremental approach to storytelling. Thus, for this symposium, we will be examining television as a short form, insisting on the structure implicit in the television episode, or the increasing popularity of webseries that feature microepisodes (of 2-10 minutes), like The Lizzie Bennet DiariesFrankenstein, MDCarmilla, or Kings of Con and Con Man. We will attempt to examine this balance between short episodes and long duration, as well as the association of episode length with genre – traditionally, hour-long series have been dramatic, and half-hour series comic. It is worth mentioning that all the webseries with microepisodes mentioned here are comedies, as are French “shortcoms” like Bref or Connasse. However, other short webisodes are dramatic, notably those like The Walking Dead’s transmedia webseries, intended to complete the larger narrative. Finally, the tendency towards summary in the televised short form will also be broached, whether it is in the authorized content of the series (the credits or the “previously on” sequences) or the fan-made videos on line (like “5 seasons of LOST in 8 minutes”; “Best of” videos showcasing the viewers’ preferred jokes, insults, love scenes, etc.; alternate credits, or indeed vidding). The symposium thus hopes to emphasize television’s brevity, in all its forms (and all its platforms).

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