Nov 222016

The Format Factor. Television Shows, Brands and Properties in the Global Television Scenario.
Bologna, Dipartimento delle Arti, May 23rd-24th, 2017.

Confirmed keynote speakers: Jérôme Bourdon, Jean Chalaby
Organized by Luca Barra and Paola Brembilla, in collaboration with Andrea Esser, the Media Across Borders network and the ECREA Television Studies section.

Media Mutations, the international conference of studies on audiovisual media hosted by Dipartimento delle Arti of Università di Bologna, comes to its ninth edition. This year’s theme is the cultural and industrial role of global formats in television production, distribution and viewing practices.

In the last fifteen years, following a long history that already started in the early years of the medium, television all around the world has been constantly and successfully broadcasting global formats: big brands and franchises, with a codified set of rules, sold at international audiovisual markets, distributed in many countries and on numerous networks and channels, and adapted and remade according to the tastes and needs of local audiences. Beginning with Big Brother, Survivor and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, and later with The X Factor, Masterchef, Peking Express, In Treatment, The Bridge, Pulseras Rojas and many others, formatted shows have contributed to creating a shared television aesthetics, spreading best practice in production, distribution and marketing, and establishing similar consumption habits. At the same time, differences and national specificities are still at work, and the success of global formats in individual national markets depends on successful localization. The process of formatization is now used in both TV fiction and entertainment productions, and it is relentlessly expanding, both at the economic and cultural level, and in a convergent media scenario.

Some classic and more recent studies have established the field of format research over the past 18 years, defining various format dimensions and analyzing their ability to travel across different countries and cultures (e.g. Moran 1998, 2007; 2009; Oren and Shahaf, 2012; Chalaby 2016; Ellis, Esser and Gutiérrez Lozano 2016; Aveyard, Moran and Jensen 2016). The conference aims to expand the academic knowledge of this important phenomenon, establish new research perspectives in the field, and strengthen the understanding of national and transnational distribution and reception practices. The focus will not only be on cultural and linguistic format issues, but on the legal, economic and productive aspects of format development and format trade, and the different genres and types of formatted audiovisual products.

Media Mutations 9 encourages submissions that cover the following subjects and topics, favoring proposals and case histories that are able to intersect across different areas:

  • The economic/trade dimension of TV formats: rise and evolution of the format market; formats as commercial properties; format distributors and buyers; negotiation aspects; sales; format companies; mergers and acquisitions; trade rituals and habits; global buying and selling practices and national specificities; emerging production regions and established format centers.
  • The legal dimension of TV formats: intellectual properties, franchise and copyright issues; legal protection of formats, globally and nationally; protecting original ideas from copycat shows and piracy; forms of contracts and license deals; formats on digital platforms and as reruns.
  • The productive dimension of TV formats: advantages and disadvantages of making or buying formats; format development process; developing original programs vs. adapting international formats; professional skills and roles; production processes; branded content formats.
  • The distributive dimension of TV formats: circulation of formats across different countries and television models; national adaptations and mediations of global formats; remakes vs. ready-made programming; programming, scheduling and promotion practices; digital distribution of formats on over-the-top and on demand audiovisual platforms.
  • The aesthetic dimension of TV formats: formats as symbolic and narrative forms; formats as a set of fixed rules; formats as branding devices; aesthetic innovation vs. conservation; formats and television genres/texts (game, reality, talent, fiction, general entertainment, factual programming); scripted vs. unscripted formats; specificities of fiction formats; transmedia storytelling.
  • The audience dimension of TV formats: national appeal of global formats; limits and constraints imposed by local taste; format success and consequences on viewing habits and consumption practices; formats and convergent television/media; quantitative (ratings) and qualitative analysis of format audiences.
  • The historical dimension of TV formats: evolution of formats and markets; different steps/models; “formats” before the advent of licensed formats; formats on PSB, commercial TV and pay TV; role of national/transnational television cultures in creating successful formats.
  • The life-cycle of television formats: from development and broadcast in the first country to international circulation and national adaptations, to the “death”/re-birth of a format.
  • Theoretical and methodological approaches to television formats.
  • Transnational case histories: global formats and their adaptations; key brands and franchises; leading and upcoming format countries.

The official languages of the conference are English and Italian. Abstracts (250-500 words for 20-minute talks) should be sent to [at] by February 15th, 2017. Please attach a brief biography (maximum 150 words) and an optional selected bibliography (up to five titles) relevant to the conference theme. Notification of acceptance will be sent by March 15th. A registration fee will be requested after notification of paper acceptance (€40 for speakers and professional attendants; free conference admission for students).

This Conference is financially supported by Centro Dipartimentale La Soffitta and Dipartimento delle Arti, Università di Bologna.

May 102016

25-26 May, c/o Salone Marescotti – Dipartimento delle Arti, Via Barberia, 4 – Bologna

A cognitive Approach to TV Series

Wednesday 25 May 2016

10.00 Greetings and introduction
Michele Guerra, Veronica Innocenti, Héctor J. Pérez, Margrethe Bruun Vaage

10.30 Keynote 1, Jason Mittell (Middlesbury College), Operational Comprehension, or How We Think About How We Watch Serial Television

11.30-11.45 Break

11.45 Panel 1: Characters & Engagement
Olivier Kronen (University of Glasgow), Hating Characters in Contemporary Television Drama
Fernando Canet (Universitat Politècnica de València), The Relationship Between Characters as a Metaphor for the Viewer’s Engagement in Television Series: the Figure of “Meta-viewer”
Luca Barra (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano), A Different Kind of Connection. Building the Audience Engagement in Contemporary US Sitcoms

13.15 Lunch break

14.30 Panel 2: Events & Plots
Sebastian Armbrust (University of Hamburg), Events in Serial Storyworlds: Towards a Theory of Serial Plotting
Paolo Braga (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano), The Contribution of Screenwriting Theory to the Analysis of Complex TV: the Case of “Downton Abbey”

16.00 Panel 3: Temporality & Rhythm
Bohdan Y. Nebesio (Brock University, Niagara Region, Canada), Rhythm in TV Series Storytelling
Francesco Parisi (Università di Messina), Olimpia Calì (Università di Messina), Identification, Memory, Elaboration. The Importance of Time in the Context of TV Series Fruition

17.00 Break

17.20 Keynote 2, Jaak Panksepp (Washington’s State University) and Anesa Miller (Independent Scholar), Addicted to Emotion: “How Affective Neuroscience Sheds Light on Our Love of Narrative Arts”

Thursday 26 May 2016

9.30 Keynote 3, Hannah Chapelle Wojciehowski (The University of Texas at Austin), Binge-watching, Immersive Experience and Creativity: An Embodied Approach

10.30-10.45 Break

10.45 Panel 4: Emotions & Mise-en-scène
Federico Pierotti (Università di Firenze), Emotion and Color Design in “Mad Men”
Enrico Carocci (Università degli Studi Roma Tre), “I Can Smell the Psychosphere”: The Aesthetics of Mood in “True Detective”: Season One
María Jesús Ortiz (Universidad de Alicante), Alberto Nahum Martínez (Universidad de Navarra), Mise-en-scène, Embodied Metaphors and Moods

12.15 Break

12.30 Panel 5: Emotions & Narrative Structure
Sara Casoli (Università di Bologna), The Emotional Anomaly. The Planning of an Affective Experience in a Serial Information Architecture: the Case of “Game of Thrones”
Massimo Locatelli (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano), Fear Relevant Narratives

13.30 Lunch break

14.30 Book presentation: Margrethe Bruun Vaage, The Antihero in American Television (Routledge 2015). Discussant: Jason Mittell (Middlebury College)

15.15 Panel 6: Interdisciplinary Approaches
Janina Wildfeuer (University of Bremen), Out of place!?– The Semiotic Role of Music in Contemporary TV Series
Adriano D’Aloia (Università Telematica Internazionale UniNettuno), Ruggero Eugeni (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano), The Boundaries of Never-ending. Events. Cognition and Complex TV Series Narratives
Adam Resnick (The City University of New York), Social Media, Reality Soap and the User Experience. How Transmedia Narrative and Affected Marketing Are Utilized in Bravo’s “The Shah’s of Sunset”

16.15 Break

16.30 Panel 6: Interdisciplinary Approaches (II)
Pauliina Tuomi (University of Tampere), Today’s Provocative Television Production: Moral Dimensions in Finnish Television
Ariel Avissar (Tel Aviv University), Connecting the Dots: Narrative Complexity in Contemporary Catastrophic Series

Nov 132015

Media Mutations 8. A Cognitive Approach to TV Series.
Bologna, Dipartimento delle Arti, Salone Marescotti, May 25th and 26th 2016

Organized by the University of Bologna, in collaboration with the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image and the research project Theoretical Innovation Strategies in the Analysis of Narration in Television Series.
Confirmed keynote speakers: Jason Mittell (Middlebury College), Jaak Panksepp and Anesa Miller (Washington’s State University) and Hannah Chapelle Wojciehowski (The University of Texas at Austin).
Programme committee: Margrethe Bruun Vaage (University of Kent), Michele Guerra (Università di Parma), Veronica Innocenti (Università di Bologna), and Héctor J. Pérez (Universitat Politècnica de València).

The 8th edition of the Media Mutations International Conference is entitled “A Cognitive Approach to TV Series”. Some recent studies have begun developing a cognitive approach to TV series, but nevertheless much is yet unexplored. This conference aims at aiding this nascent field in firmly establishing itself as an interdisciplinary approach in media studies. We encourage papers on topics such as the nature and the role of emotions in TV series, the cognitive processes elicited by serial narrative, the viewers’ participation and paratextual creation, and finally the relationship between cognitive TV studies and other relevant theoretical approaches such as that of narrative ecosystems and so-called embodied narratology.

Media Mutations 8 encourages proposals on the following subjects:

• The cognitive, affective and moral dimensions of viewers’ engagement with characters in TV series (e.g., compared to stand-alone artwork such as film)
• The role played by memory in TV series engagement
• The varieties of emotional experience with serial narratives
• Cognitive explorations of participatory experiences in serial narratives (e.g., engagement through paratexts)
• Text vs. paratext – author intentions vs. audience creation
• Philosophical and theoretical investigations of contemporary TV series (e.g., complex TV; narrative ecosystems; vast narratives)
• Cognitive approaches to the process of construction and development of narrative ecosystems
• Narration and Embodiment (embodied and affective aspects of stylistic features)

The official languages of the conference are English and Italian.

Abstracts (250-1000 words for 20-minute talks) should be sent to [at] by January 5th 2016. Please attach a brief biography (maximum 150 words) and an optional selected bibliography (up to ten titles) relevant to the conference topics.

Notification of acceptance will be sent to proponents between 1.-15. February.

A registration fee will be requested after notification of acceptance (€40 for speakers; admission to the conference is free for students). A selection of papers will be included in an edited collection to be submitted to an international publisher.

This Conference is financially supported by: Centro Dipartimentale La Soffitta and Dipartimento delle Arti, Università di Bologna; Research project Theoretical Innovation Strategies in the Analysis of Narration in Television Series (CSO2014-51872-R), funded by the Spanish Government.