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Open Access Dredging, drilling, and mapping television’s swamps: An interview with John Caldwell on the 20th anniversary of Televisuality

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In 1995, John Caldwell’s Televisuality: Style, Crisis and Authority in American Television familiarised media studies with a heterodox methodology, mixing formal analysis and technical insights with work floor knowledge with elaborate theorising. In this interview Caldwell describes how this approach emerged from a conjuncture of practices as different as art school, farm labor, and high theory. Instead of defining the theoretical essence of the medium this combination of approaches allowed for a recursive mapping and drilling of television’s dynamics. Caldwell claims the ‘commercial media industrial systems’ can neither be understood nor effectively criticised with a one-size-fits-all approach; rather, only if we seriously take into account the changing concepts and practices that emerge within these systems. This also requires a pedagogy which does not teach a well-defined model of analysis but rather makes room for collaborative, open-ended research.
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Keywords: ANT; production studies; style; television studies

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Markus Stauff teaches media studies at the University of Amsterdam. His main research interests are television and digital media, governmentality, and the visual culture of media sports. 2: John T. Caldwell is Professor of Cinema and Media Studies in the Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media at UCLA. He has authored and edited several books, including Production Studies: Cultural Studies of Media Industries (co-edited with Vicki Mayer and Miranda Banks, Routledge, 2009); Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television (Duke University Press, 2008); New Media: Digitextual Theories and Practices (co-edited with Anna Everett, Routledge, 2003); Electronic Media and Technoculture (Rutgers University Press, 2000); and Televisuality: Style, Crisis and Authority in American Television (Rutgers University Press, 1995).

Publication date: September 1, 2015

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  • NECSUS is an international, double-blind peer reviewed journal of media studies connected to NECS (European Network for Cinema and Media Studies) and published by Amsterdam University Press. The journal is multidisciplinary and strives to bring together the best work in the field of media studies across the humanities and social sciences. We aim to publish research that matters and that improves the understanding of media and culture inside and outside the academic community. Each volume includes feature articles, a special thematic section, a video essay section, and a reviews section that covers books, festivals, and exhibitions. NECSUS is targeted to a broad readership of researchers, lecturers, and students, and will be offered as a biannual open access, online journal.

    The journal is published in Open Access, with the following Creative Commons copyright license: Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

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