Courses / Graduate

Spring 2020

  • Seriality and Futurity

    240-001 | CCN: 22477

    Mark Sandberg

    4 Units

    Wed 2pm-5pm, Location: Dwinelle 226

    Screening: W 11am-1pm, Location: Dwinelle 226

    This course examines the upsurge of attention to serial form in American television and related popular narrative forms of the past ten-fifteen years by postulating a relationship to shifting cultural notions of futurity. Serial form has always constructed an implied ongoing and ever-receding future, but there seems to be more at stake in recent serial narrative practice. Instead, seriality remakes itself in recent American television drama as a form of practicing for the future in vicarious narrative form, of premediating possible futures as a form of emergency preparedness. To that end, the course will examine three main concepts: the construction of “past futures” through period dramas like Mad Men, Manh(a)ttan, and The Americans; the development of future competencies through time-loop and do-over films/series like The Edge of Tomorrow, Source Code, 11.22.63, and Russian Doll; and aftermath narratives like The Leftovers and Chernobyl that depict characters who must deal with having been “too late” for the crucial rendezvous. One might think of this ensemble of texts as being governed by structures of anticipated rather than retrospective trauma: the imagination of a “spoiler” to end all “spoilers.” Texts read in the course will include Richard Grusin’s Premediation, Dennis Broe’s Birth of the Binge, James Berger’s After the End, Alex Bevan’s The Aesthetics of Nostalgia TV, Jason Mittel’s Complex TV, and others.