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25 Apr

Supernatural & Television Authorship

Posted by Michael Fuchs
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This the final draft of a chapter titled "Supernatural's Showrunners, Creative Teams, and Fans: Television Authorship in the Age of Participatory Culture," which will be published in a volume on 'auteur TV' edited by Ralph Poole and Saskia Fürst.
Abstract:
In his seminal article "Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television," Jason Mittell notes that television has earned the "reputation as a producer’s medium, where writers and creators retain control of their work more than in film's director-centered model" (31). However, it seems as if no other live-action television show has highlighted the importance of its creative team in the way Supernatural has. While, for example, naming characters after writers (e.g. Bobby Singer) may serve as a secret handshake with fans, the show, in fact, has taken its play with authorship to such a level that in seasons four and five, Eric Kripke's (the main creative force behind the show—at least during its first five seasons) fictional double Chuck Shurley (a.k.a. Carver Edlund—not surprisingly a combination of the last names of two of the show's writers) has repeated appearances on the show, culminating in the season five finale, in which Chuck serves as the episode's voiceover narrator.
While Chuck's role as the show's narrator, who metaleptically occupies intra and extra-diegetic positions simultaneously and whose narration, in fact, precedes diegetic reality, provides neat meditations not only on authorship in television series but also on postmodern theory, the season seven episode "Season Seven, Time for a Wedding" adds an important twist to the question of authorship by featuring a plot diegetically imagined by Supernatural fanfic writer Becky (a recurring character since season five) that sees her marrying her hero Sam, one of the show's main characters. Thus, the focus turns from how the show is a creative construct of a select few to how Supernatural is actually (re)created by its fans. This essay will analyze how Supernatural negotiates these two seemingly contradictory poles (the creative team's control vs. fans' 'control') in its diegesis and paratextual materials.

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Together with Jeff Thoss (FU Berlin), I am editing a book on video games and intermediality. Click 'read more' for the full call for contributions.

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A chapter tentatively titled "'I know everything that's going to happen': Supernatural's Self-Reflexive Compulsion to Repeat (with a Difference)" has been selected for inclusion in an edited volume on Supernatural and the Gothic tradition. Including the other two essays that are in different stages of the publication process, this will be my ninth publication on Supernatural. It will be my final one—not only because it's time to move on, but also because the show's been unbearable to watch for a few years now ... For the complete abstract, click the rather obvious 'read more'-button.

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06 Mar

The Ecocritical Subtexts of 3 Recent Ozzie Horror Movies

Posted by Michael Fuchs
with 2449 hits

Continuing the trend of more-or-less monthly posts in 2015, here is the final draft of a chapter which will be published in a volume on animal horror movies edited by Katarina Gregersdotter, Niklas Hållén, and Johan Höglund. The collection is currently under peer review.
Abstract:
This chapter investigates the three Australian animal horror movies Rogue (2007), Black Water (2007), and The Reef (2010). The chapter argues that these movies seek to portray great white sharks and saltwater crocodiles simply as what they are—apex predators that may kill and feed on human beings. Yet, as the author demonstrates, certain frictions emerge from the movies' attempts at depicting the animals' essential traits and the human perspective that the films cannot abandon. This chapter, thus, explores the ways in which these paradoxes operate on the narrative and stylistic levels and reveals how the sharks and crocodiles in Rogue, Black Water, and The Reef still succeed in dethroning humanity from its self-ascribed spot atop the food chain. As a result, these three movies question mankind’s self-proclaimed dominance over the rest of the planet, revealing an ecocritical agenda in the process.

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With 62 units of teaching behind me between January 8 and yesterday, here's a brief update: My proposed chapter "'Is this really all they had to worry about?' Piecing Together the Past in The Last of Us" has been selected for inclusion in an upcoming book on 'Memory in Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian Tales,' edited by Heather Urbanski. Neat excuse for (a) finally buying a PS4 and (b) re-playing the game when I'm back in Graz. For the abstract, click below.

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