Jul 102014

The full video of Media Mutations 6 is finally out! Click here, browse the conference programme and watch the papers, the Q&A and the keynote addresses of Catherine Johnson and Derek Kompare.

Special thanks to Enrico De Stavola, Maurizio Morini and Fabio Regazzi for the streaming and for editing the video.

May 272014

Apr 292014

Modes of Production and Narrative Forms in the Contemporary TV Series
organized by Luca Barra, Leora Hadas, Veronica Innocenti, and Paolo Noto
Bologna, Dipartimento delle Arti, Salone Marescotti, Via Barberia 4
May 27th-28th, 2014

Live streaming available on this website from 11.30am.

May 27th

14.30 Introduction and greetings

15.00 Keynote address
Catherine Johnson (University of Nottingham), Beyond Transmedia Storytelling

16.00 Panel 1 – Transmedia storytelling in practice
Chair: Peppino Ortoleva (Università degli Studi di Torino)
Maria Engberg and Jay David Bolter (Georgia Tech), Weak Narrativity in Transmedia. Storytelling in The Walking Dead
Deborah Toschi and Federica Villa (Università di Pavia), The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
Melanie Bourdaa (University of Bordeaux), Re-inventing the Space Opera as an Endless Universe. The Case of Battlestar Galactica
Marco Cucco (Università della Svizzera Italiana), Understanding Fiction by Looking at its Business. The Sky Italy Case Study

17.15 Coffee break

17.30 Panel 2 – Images of the audience
Chair: Giovanni Boccia Artieri (Università degli Studi di Urbino “Carlo Bo”)
JP Kelly (Royal Holloway, London), From Searching to Sifting. Television Ratings in the Age of Social Media
Çiğdem Erdal and Orçin Uzun (Marmara University), What Do They Want? Turkish Television Audience and The Future of Television
Cecilia Penati and Anna Sfardini (Università Cattolica, Milan), Serial Visions. Models of Complex Storytelling and Italian Audiences’ Perceptions

May 28

9.45 Panel 3 – Industrial conditions and narrative
Chair: Roberta Pearson (University of Nottingham)
Paola Brembilla (Università di Bologna), Straight-to-Series in Broadcast TV. Causes, Issues and Consequences
Amélie Chabrier and Yoann Hervey (University Paul Valery, Montpellier), Writing a Bottle Episode. “Fly”, from Breaking Bad
Basil Glynn (Middlesex University), The Tudors, the National Past and the Re-shaping of Generic Traditions in Contemporary TV Costume Drama
Leora Hadas (University of Nottingham) presents the project Industrial Approaches to Media

11.15 Coffee break

11.30 Keynote address
Derek Kompare (Southern Methodist University), Digital Distribution and the Erratic Expansion of Television

12.30 Lunch

14.30  Panel 4 – European fiction and global circulation
Chair: Francesco Casetti (Yale University)
Roberta Pearson (University of Nottingham), A Case of Identity. Sherlock and Elementary,
Giancarlo Lombardi (College of Staten Island and Graduate Center/CUNY), Cultural Imperialism, Redefined. New Modes of Crossnational Television
Marco Cucco (Università della Svizzera Italiana), Understanding Fiction by Looking at its Business. The Sky Italy Case Study
Catherine O’Rawe (Bristol University), Romanzo criminale, la serie. Complex TV and Male Melodrama,

16.15 Coffee break

16.30 Panel 5 – The wider context of narrative production
Chair: Enrico Menduni (Università degli Studi Roma Tre)
Nikola Stepić (Concordia University), Looking Back on the News. Conceptualizing Television in HBO’s The Newsroom
James Hay (University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign), Reality TV & Entrepreneurial Citizenship after the Financial Crisis
Sara Zanatta (Fondazione Museo Storico del Trentino), Pawn History Worldwide. How Antiques Dealers Have ‘Restored’ Television Factual Series

Dec 202014

Media Mutations 7. Space Invaders. The impact of digital games in contemporary media ecosystems.
Bologna, Dipartimento delle Arti, Salone Marescotti, May 26th and 27th 2015

Confirmed keynote speaker: Tanya Krzywinska (Falmouth University)

Organized by: Paolo Noto (Università di Bologna), Riccardo Fassone (Università di Torino), Claudio Pires Franco (University of Bedforshire)

In the past years digital games have progressively become more visible in the media ecosystem, and now occupy a prominent position, economically and culturally, in the mediascape.
As a consequence, scholars in TV and Film Studies have been incorporating the study of video games into their field of interests, working in particular on the aesthetic and narrative relationship between digital games and other media. Scholarly production has extensively focused, on the one hand, on issues such as intermediality, narrative aspects in digital games as well as on modes of representation and enunciation and, on the other hand, on playful aspects of the cinematic and televisual narration.

What seems to be nearly absent in this field of analysis is a more structured reflection on the impact of digital games in the contemporary media ecosystem. In particular, we would like to foster a further exploration of the spaces traditionally occupied by cinema and television that have been significantly modified, both by the pervasiveness of digital games and by the design of gameful products. Moreover, we encourage an exploration of current and potential technological developments that determine interactions and convergences in the different aspects of production between video games and other media.
Coherently with its previous editions, Media Mutations 7 encourages ecosystemic analyses, encompassing games and play and their role within the wider space of media, of the aspects listed below. We accept proposals for 20 minute papers on:

  • Space of creation and production: What kind of unprecedented products emerge from the coexistence between games and other creative objects? What types of products have been subject to mutations triggered by the increasing presence of digital games in the media ecosystem?  How might models of production and creative work migrate between games and other media? How does the increasing importance of games affect the organization of contemporary media franchises? To what extent the need to engage viewers through playful elements influences the styles of writing and filmmaking? How has this changed the professional routines as well as the geography of workplaces? What are the potential educational applications of video games and how do they relate to the use of other media in the same context?
  • Space of delivery and consumption: How are games showcased and sold in physical as well as digital stores, in competition (or in collaboration) with other items, such as films and TV series? What are the forms of monetization and the marketing strategies they adopt in the competition for the limited resources of users’ money and time? How are promotional practices and discourses of games affected by other media, and vice versa? How are forms of interactive technology and distribution contributing to the development of new cross-media experiences, such as second screens, mobile media , augmented reality and the like?
  • Space of discussion: How have games achieved a culturally legitimate status? How are games brought into traditional spaces of exhibition? What is the meaning of buzzwords, such as interactive, immersive, gamification and transmedia according to the contexts in which they are employed (in academia, marketing, industry, etc.)?

We will also consider proposals on the following subjects:
serious games, advergames, interactive Web-docs, educational games, amusement parks, gamification of blockbuster movies and TV, Alternate Reality Games (ARG), casual games.

The official languages of the conference are English and Italian. Extended abstracts of up to 1.000 words (for 20-minute talks) should be sent to mediamutations.org [at] gmail.com by February 15th 2015. Please attach a brief biography (maximum 150 words) and an optional selected bibliography (up to ten titles) relevant to the conference theme. A registration fee will be requested after notification of paper acceptance (€40 for speakers; admission to the conference is free for students).

May 262014

This is the last abstract we post. See you tomorrow at the conference! (Also in live streaming: live.dar.unibo.it)

Pawn History Worldwide. How Antiques Dealers Have ‘Restored’ Television Factual Series
Sara Zanatta (Fondazione Museo Storico del Trentino)

The paper aims to discuss the recent popularization of factual television about antiques and auction; it considers the appeal of the ‘new’ genre as mainly tied to its hybrid form, in which fiction and nonfiction narrative codes and production strategies are merged. In particular, the discussion takes into consideration the case of Pawn Stars, History flagship programme, debuted in July 2009 as part of a major channel’s rebranding. The half-hour show tells the everyday life of a 24-hours pawn family business set in Las Vegas and it has shortly become a top-rated series sold worldwide, contributing to refresh the channel’s ‘identity’ as well as the antiques show formula.
The analysis draws upon three main lines of research: an overview of the narrative main features (the engaging characters, the serial dynamic of their relationships, the episodic ‘cases’, etc.); a description of the related cross-media offer (games, books, DVD box sets, clothes, etc.); a discussion of some production strategies, particularly in terms of scheduling and promotion. The study is part of a larger post-doctoral project about History on television: it is methodologically based on textual analysis of the show and other media outputs and a collection of secondary materials (such as newspaper reviews and press releases); furthermore, in-depth interviews with different media professionals (involved in commissioning, programming, marketing, acquisition) will be considered as they discuss how the ‘Pawn phenomenon’ has affected the editorial line and the related programming strategy also in the Italian television arena.

Sara Zanatta obtained her Ph.d in sociology and social research at the University of Trento (Italy); she currently holds a Marie Curie post-doc fellowship at Fondazione Museo Storico del Trentino. She also worked as visiting scholar at Queen Mary University of London (2011-2013) and University of California, Santa Barbara (2009). Her main research interests concern the production mechanisms in the media system, particularly the Italian television industry. She is co-author of Una galassia rosa (2009, Franco Angeli) and editor of Le donne del fumetto (2009, Tunué); she authored many articles and essays for Italian sociological journals and collected books. Contact: sara.zanatta@gmail.com.

May 252014
As Media Mutations 6 is coming up, we are delighted to post in advance all the abstracts of the papers accepted for our conference. Enjoy your reading and feel free to write for any information about the conference to paolo.noto2 (at) unibo.it.

Reality TV & Entrepreneurial Citizenship after the Financial Crisis
James Hay (University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign)

As Laurie Ouellette and I have suggested in Better Living through Reality TV (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), the “reality-TV” syndrome gained traction in the U.S. through a “neoliberal” reasoning about how supposedly (following the title of Osborne & Gabler’s Reinventing Government) an “entrepreneurial spirit can change the public sector.” During the Bush-Cheney administration, the virtues of an “active,” entrepreneurial citizenship (rather than a “dependency” on the State) deepened, under the banner of what Bush often referred to as an Ownership Society, wherein citizens would take responsibility for their own welfare, and wherein good citizenship would be measured by a citizen’s “enterprise.”  As Ouellette and I point out, it was no small coincidence that entrepreneurial citizenship became a political virtue amidst the flourishing of instructional TV programming, that “coached” and “guided” subjects, and provided the resources, for becoming enterprisers.  The scope of this programming has been wide in the U.S.–including for instance, financial advice, song-contests such as American Idol, home makeover and investment, car makeover and investment, adventure programs about entrepreneurs such as Lobster Men & Swamp Loggers, pawn shows such as Pawn Stars, “second-hand” collecting programs such as American Pickers, apprenticeship programs such as The Apprentice, chef-contests such as Top Chef, and “pitch”-contests such as Shark Tank.  These programs collectively have become integral technically and materially to reality-TV’s mode of production, but the programs also represent the virtues of enterprisers in that mode of production.
My contribution to this conference would examine the legacy of these programs during and after the recent “financial crisis,” addressing how these programs operate differently in TV’s current mode of production than before the financial crisis, how these programs intersect with the flourishing of YouTube following the financial crisis, and how a new regime of “enterprise TV” has emerged through a “post-“ financial crisis reasoning (and contradictions) about paths to “recovery” through enterprising citizens and citizenship.

May 252014
As Media Mutations 6 is coming up, we are delighted to post in advance all the abstracts of the papers accepted for our conference. Enjoy your reading and feel free to write for any information about the conference to paolo.noto2 (at) unibo.it.

Looking Back on the News: Conceptualizing Television in HBO’s The Newsroom
Nikola Stepić (Concordia University)

With his latest television project, writer and producer Aaron Sorkin has created a show whose narrative model comments on policies, possibilities and challenges of news television by means of intricate and consistent instances of intertextuality with “real-life” media events. HBO’s The Newsroom follows the staff of a fictional news program as they receive, parse and prepare real-life events for broadcast. The unique position that the show puts its viewers in, both by revisiting past media events and reconstructing how these events might have been mediated, dissects television both as a cultural or national item and a specific medium.
Operating under the assumption that a TV show about TV itself can not only bring about knowledge about the production process, but also deconstruct and synthesize such ideas as historiography, crisis, catastrophe, liveness and flow, this paper aims to analyze The Newsroom through the vocabulary of media theory and explore the ways in which it embodies and envisions these concepts. Furthermore, issues of television as both a prescriptive and a descriptive force when writing out the national and media histories will be looked into.  Finally, the paper will strive to analyze the implications of television looking back and effectively theorizing itself as it does in The Newsroom, its metatextual qualities becoming a text unto itself.

Doane, Mary Ann. “Information, Crisis, Catastrophe.” New Media, Old Media: A History and Theory Reader. Ed. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun and Thomas Keenan. New York: Routledge, 2006. 251-64. Print.
Mellencamp, Patricia. “Disastrous Events.” High Anxiety: Catastrophe, Scandal, Age & Comedy. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1992. 90-394. Print.
Scannell, Paddy. “Television and History.” A Companion to Television. Ed. Janet Wasko. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2005. 51-66. Print.

Nikola Stepić is an MA student of Film Studies at Concordia University’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema in Montreal, Canada. He holds a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Novi Sad, Serbia and is also working towards an MA in English there. His research interests include queer cinema and topics, gender theory and popular culture. He has recently co-authored titled “Representations of the Marginalized: In Search of an Identity in the Poetry of Adrianne Rich, Tim’m West and Tara Hardy,” published in the anthology Discourses That Matter by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

May 242014
As Media Mutations 6 is coming up, we are delighted to post in advance all the abstracts of the papers accepted for our conference. Enjoy your reading and feel free to write for any information about the conference to paolo.noto2 (at) unibo.it.

Romanzo criminale la serie: Complex TV and Male Melodrama
Catherine O’Rawe (Bristol University)

This paper will examine the two seasons of the Italian quality drama Romanzo criminale: la serie (Sky/Cattleya, 2008/2010). Generally regarded as exceptional in the landscape of contemporary Italian television, it is thought to have introduced a new form of seriality to Italian audiences, and to have imported modes of engagement familiar from US ‘quality TV’ (D’Aloia 2010). My paper will examine the ways in which the series can be read as a ‘complex masculinist drama’, in the terms of Jason Mittell (2012-13), and how the terms of this complexity (especially the use of analepsis and fantasy sequences which bookend the series) are intimately linked to its poetics of gender nostalgia. As well as discussing the series’ appeal to a cult (masculinist) fandom (Boni 2013), I will also look at the ways in the series has been adapted for pedagogic ends, most notably through the sessions attended by cast members and schoolchildren on Pasolini’s Accattone; I will consider how constructing such an explicit paratext might complicate the series’ own vernacular melodrama.

Marta Boni, Romanzo criminale. Transmedia and Beyond (Venice: Ca’ Foscari, 2013). Online publication: http://edizionicf.unive.it/col/exp/26/140/Innesti/2
Adriano D’Aloia, ‘Romanzo criminale’, in A. Grasso and M. Scaglioni (eds.), Televisione convergente: la tv oltre il piccolo schermo (Cologno Monzese: RTI, 2010).
Jason Mittell, Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling, pre-publication edition (MediaCommons Press, 2012-13).


Dr Catherine O’Rawe is Senior Lecturer in Italian at Bristol University. She is the author of the book Stars and Masculinities in Contemporary Italian Cinema (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2014) and co-editor of The Femme Fatale: Images, Histories, Contexts (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). She has also published widely on both post-war and post-2000 Italian cinema, and has a particular interest in gender and stardom.

May 232014
As Media Mutations 6 is coming up, we are delighted to post in advance all the abstracts of the papers accepted for our conference. Enjoy your reading and feel free to write for any information about the conference to paolo.noto2 (at) unibo.it.

Cultural Imperialism, Redefined: New Modes of Crossnational Television
Giancarlo Lombardi (College of Staten Island and Graduate Center/CUNY)

Hollywood has long exercised a pervasive form of cultural imperialism through its television productions: when Dallas became a worldwide hit in the early Eighties, it wielded the ideological force of the Reagan era, despite the fact that J.R. Ewing preceded, if only for three years, the arrival of Ronald Reagan in the White House. The world-wide reception of Dallas inspired much scholarly work on cross-cultural reception of television: as Tamar Liebes and Elihu Katz demonstrated in their seminal study (1993), the ‘export of meaning’ was a subject worthy of valuable investigation, a topic that allowed international scholars to reframe the Eighties through the unique ideological perspective of cultural imperialism.
While still exercising worldwide cultural domination, US television has recently begun to turn to the rest of the world, in particular to Denmark and Israel, for its inspiration. This brief presentation attempts to discuss this new trajectory, illuminating the process of ‘cultural translation’ that occurs once a foreign tv series is ‘bathed’ in American water.  At times this adaptive process will merely reflect the different cultural and geographical contexts in which the series takes place, at others, however, it will entail a complete ‘repurposing’ of the series. The series that will be discussed are the following: Betipul, In Treatment, Forbrydelsen, The Killing, Hatufim, Homeland, Bron, The Bridge, and its recent British adaptation The Tunnel.

Giancarlo Lombardi is Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at the College of Staten Island and at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has published extensively on Italian cinema and television, and most recently has shifted his attention to the study of US serial drama. He has recently published essays on Lost and The Sopranos, and is currently writing a monograph on the Italian sceneggiato RAI as well as coediting a volume on New Italian Political Cinema.

May 222014
As Media Mutations 6 is coming up, we are delighted to post in advance all the abstracts of the papers accepted for our conference. Enjoy your reading and feel free to write for any information about the conference to paolo.noto2 (at) unibo.it.

Understanding fiction by looking at its business: the Sky Italy case study
Marco Cucco (Università della Svizzera Italiana)

During the past few years the Italian broadcasters Rai and Mediaset reduced the amount of money yearly devoted to produce original fiction. Despite the fact that this is a common trend in Europe, Italy is the country that experienced one of the most drastic contraction in financing domestic fiction. Within this scenario, in 2003 Sky Italy started to produce original fiction, inaugurating a fruitful and ongoing activity.
The Sky Italy case study is particularly interesting for several reasons. Firstly, Sky (an innovative player in the Italian scenario) surprisingly opted for an obsolete and nowadays counter-current strategy, financing products (fiction) that seems to be no more appealing for other national broadcasters. Secondly, in doing that Sky signed co-production and broadcasting agreements with national and foreign partners, marking a turning point in producing and releasing fiction in Italy. Finally, Sky’s fiction looks particularly original in the Italian panorama in terms of contents, style, packaging, locations, target, etc.
The paper I would like to present will investigate the Sky Italy case study in order to demonstrate: a) how producing fiction could still be a successful economic activity for a private company, and b) how both the investments into fiction and the products themselves are tightly related to the broadcaster’s business model. More in general, the paper aims to suggest how considering media economics and politics is still a fundamental step for understanding not only how media industry works, but also for interpreting its output.

Marco Cucco holds a PhD in Communication Sciences. Currently he is lecturer in Film Economics at the Università della Svizzera italiana (Lugano, Switzerland) where he coordinates the master program in Media Management. He has been visiting PhD student at the City University of New York and visiting scholar at the Université de Lorraine. He published several articles in peer-reviewed journals (Media, Culture & Society, European Journal of Communication, Journal of Italian Cinema & Media Studies, Studies in Communication Sciences, Economia della cultura, Bianco e nero e Comunicazioni sociali) and two books: Il film blockbuster. Storia e caratteristiche delle grandi produzioni hollywoodiane (Carocci, 2010) and Il mercato delle location cinematografiche (with G. Richeri, Marsilio, 2013).

May 212014

As Media Mutations 6 is coming up, we are delighted to post in advance all the abstracts of the papers accepted for our conference. Enjoy your reading and feel free to write for any information about the conference to paolo.noto2 (at) unibo.it.

A Case of Identity: Sherlock and Elementary
Roberta Pearson (University of Nottingham)

The BBC television series Sherlock, created by Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss and starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, premiered in 2010, with series two following in 2012 and series three in 2014. The CBS television series Elementary, created by Rob Doherty and starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, premiered in 2012, with season two following in 2013. Both are adaptations of the same source material, the four novels and fifty six short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about the world’s first consulting detective. Yet both television series diverge widely not only from each other but from the source text; Sherlock updates the characters to contemporary London, while Elementary updates the characters to contemporary New York City and turns Watson into a woman. Sherlock is a dazzling and inventive example of what Mittell terms ‘narrative complexity’ while Elementary bears a strong family resemblance to CBS’s many other police procedurals.
This paper will interrogate the industrial and reception factors that contribute to the divergences between the two texts, focusing primarily on the difference in the relative cultural position of British public service and American commercial television. Even in the age of convergence and audience fragmentation the BBC still retains a central position in British life and culture as attested to by Sherlock’s status as event television, attracting over thirty per cent of the audience and much media publicity. By contrast, the centrality of the major commercial networks to American life and culture has been much diminished by convergence and audience fragmentation. Elementary, even though doing well in the ratings, attracts only five per cent of the audience and relatively little media publicity. The analysis will touch on the conference themes of narrative models and industrial structures as well as of new forms of monetization (in terms of Sherlock ancillary texts like the game app).

Roberta Pearson is Professor of Film and Television Studies at the University of Nottingham, whose research interests include American and British television as well as iconic cultural figures and forms such as Shakespeare, Batman and Star Trek. Her book, Star Trek and American Television, will be published by the University of California Press in the spring of 2014. She has also published several articles on Sherlock Holmes fans and texts and is planning a major monograph on the contemporary production and reception of Sherlockian texts.