Study Questions Seminar on Seriality, 2019

STUDY QUESTION 3: Deadline 17.07.2019

Your personal sum-up: what did you learn in this seminar? Which aspects we discussed do you think might be useful for your further studies? Which aspects of seriality do you think were not addressed and would merit further discussion? How will you incorporate what we did in our meetings into your essay?


  1. According to Kelleter, mediums such as narrative serialization and the forming of genres are more easily accessible and elementary due to modern communication technology.
    Such commercial industrial mass art forms are very adaptable and they produce access to practical and cultural conventions.
    Modern communication technology allows for information to travel faster and globally. Imaginary, alternative possibilities of living and identity reach people through narrative serialization. Entertainment mediums of hybrid societies with a metalinguistic, multiethnic, multireligious and migration backgrounds are often style-forming for a global audience. In order to be attractive to a diverse audience mediums from such sources often have to generalize their structures. The cultural diversity in American or Indian society exists because they are modern and new aesthetics in popular culture are often a mixtures from minorities and commercial main stream culture. One example for this are sentimental novels from women, Ragtime and Jazz from afro American slaves, American comic books from Jewish immigrants or Rock’n’Roll from teenagers.

    Neumann and Rupp’s descriptions of topographical representations of Sherlock Holmes adaptations are an example for a global aesthetic of a popular narrative. Sherlock Holmes original story is set in London and places and sights carry meaning, adding to the story and painting a picture. Action does not take place in nameless, remote areas places.
    Sherlock Holmes‘ stories do not only appeal to people from London or England. The stories are famous worldwide and also include the protagonist to be involved in transcultural cases. This shows that cultural exchange is taking place and has an effect on a city as well as it’s inhabitants.

    Besides the content and locations within the story, the concept of space extends outwards of the plot to the medium the story is conveyed through. Sherlock Holmes stories are told through various mediums. The adaptations and translations are mobile and show a creative process.

  2. Topographies, i.e. the world we live in be it physical or imaginative, are a major aspect of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. Form the topographies of London itself to the topographies of more abstract concepts of urban spaces, spaces and places are ever-present in the original stories. Holmes, with his machine-like deductions, has to maneuver this topographical landscape and make sense of the plethora of clues the places and spaces show and hide. This mediation of oneself within reality and one’s place in it is a defining feature of popular culture according to Neumann and Rupp. The aesthetic artifacts central to popular culture rely heavily on technological media as they are targeted at mass audiences (Neumann p. 164). With the advent of mass media culture succeeding Doyle’s Holmes, it seems that Doyle anticipates this development which leads to the Holmes stories being readily applicable to all the aspects of seriality and popular mass audience culture leading to “ a direct line of continuity from Doyle’s original stories to the later mass appeal of adapting Sherlock Holmes in contemporary popular culture (Neumann pp. 164-65).
    The aesthetic practices in regard to popular topographies evident in Sherlock Holmes provide models for other settings in order to perceive and understand the world. (Neumann, p. 168). This has led to many adaptions, such as Ishiguro’s “When We Were Orphans” or Ray’s Holmes-esque character Feluda, that maneuver similar topographies as did Holmes in London. Both authors write from a Post-Colonial perspective. This is evident in the way the British ideal of deduction and analysis of the topographies isn’t as easy or stable as in Doyle’s originals. Both Ishiguro’s and Ray’s adaptions have their detectives being unable to correctly deduce the clues within the topographical landscape. However, these topographical landscapes are still present and depict further cultural meaning.
    The changes for a different regional, and therefore ever more global, audience can also be seen in Ray’s stories. Feluda’s adventures are adapted for a young audience, therefore changed towards a more PG story. Furthermore, regional changes ground this story in its Indian context and make it more accessible for its attended audience. Ray even depicts London in a topographically different perspective to the London and British based Doyle. Here the depiction of London from a tourist’s perspective, questions the spatial models and remediates the topography of London from a Victorian to a Post-colonial perspective.
    Not only adaptations with Sherlock Holmes like characters have brought the Sherlock Holmes myth from a popular to a global aesthetic, but also contemporary remakes and adaptations have brought Holmes into the modern age and even onto the international stage. The Hollywood adaptations have reimagined the topography of Victorian era London for a modern audience taking contemporary ideals of steam punk into account. Sherlock Holmes can also be found in the USA with the series Elementary. These adaptations are exemplary for how Sherlock Holmes “has long turned into one of the most powerful myths of popular culture anywhere” (Neumann p. 169). Not only has this led to various regional topographies for Holmes like characters to discover but also to an emergence of “a complex transcultural network, a globally entangled topography, which testifies to the productivity of seriality” (Neumann p. 169).
    Ultimately, the topographies of the Holmes adaptations change as the times change to fit their contemporary ideas of space, politics and culture. This goes as far as adapting and evolving Victorian technologies to contemporary, modern technologies such as the cell phone and computer. Sherlock Holmes is a character that guides his readers, viewers and listeners through the landscape of his setting, be it London, New York or India and gives an overview of their historic and cultural importance. Therefore, Holmes lends himself to an ever changing and adaptable global aesthetic.

    Neumann, Birgit, and Jan Rupp. “The Formation of Cultural Topographies and Popular Seriality: The Cases of Sherlock Holmes.” Topographies of Popular Culture, edited by Maarit Piipponen and Markku Salmela, Cambridge Scholars, 2016, pp. 159-88.

  3. Neumann and Rupp describe topographical representation as a dynamic concept that is bound to a certain cultural interpretation of space, boundaries and distances that can be mediated via popular culture (p.163 f). Therefore, topographical representation in general can definitely be seen as ‘global aesthetics’ that can be adapted to many different cultural identities. However, is that the case in the topographical representations of Holmes?
    In order to answer that question, one has to consider the many different adaptions of Doyle`s Sherlock Holmes and analyse whether the topographical representations of the original are adapted and made ‘global’, as well as whether they are accessible to a broad community.
    One can argue that the topographical representation in Holmes is certainly adaptable to other societies and times. Doyle`s Sherlock Holmes displays an imperialistic topography, that distinguishes between the “us”, which is the British normative society, and the “other”, which is the often criminalised Oriental society. Holmes is a detective with the aim to restore the ordered British society by eliminating “foreign elements” with the help of reason and empirical research (p.167). An adaption of this are modern television series of Holmes, e.g. the Granada series starring Jeremy Brett, that sets the story in a “relatively austere” London “coming out of the long period of post- war regeneration” (p.175) or the BBC series Sherlock including modern technologies to create mediality as topography (p. 179). One can see how in both examples the topography is adapted to a contemporary scenery; however, the plot and the imperial worldview are maintained, though this reiteration differs from the original, e.g. by stressing the aspect of the “armchair detective” (p.169).
    An example that takes the adaption of the topography a lot further is Ishiguro`s When we were Orphans, that keeps the idea of a detective trying to restore order but describes Englishness a “sense of cultural difference and displacement” (169). Here, the imperialist topography is disputed as the boundaries between “self” and “other”, “home” and “foreign” are blurred and the stereotypical identification of “Oriental” with “crime” is reversed (p.170). The topography is further changed by shifting London and England as the centre of the world to its periphery (p.170). This adaptation shows how the topography is changed to fit into the context of a post-colonial contemporary setting.
    However, some of these interpretations seem very complex and definitely rely on the audiences knowledge of historical imperial topographies and how they are created in order for the audience to perceive the changes made to the original series and to understand how changes affect the topographical representation. One can doubt whether a broad audience perceives these changes and can use them to create their own “meanings” as well as produce their own (fan) fiction. Therefore I would argue that thought the topology in general is certainly adaptable and that there are elements, e.g. the contemporary setting, that are available and reproducible to a broad audience, the more subtle changes that reverse or focus imperial topographies might be accessible only for a very critical audience. The topographical changes therefore seem to take part on different levels, and whilst some are definitely easily accessible, others seem to be more and more complex.
    All in all one can say that though Holmes topography is an adaptable, global asthetics, its adaptions are only partly open and easily accessed by a broad audience, whilst some of the accessibility relies on a well-informed audience.

  4. The topographical representations of Holmes adaptations that Neuman and Rupp describe are an example of a “global aesthetics” of a popular narrative. Not only Sherlock Holmes is worldwide famous but the character has also been a source of inspiration for many adaptations ranging from literary works to films and especially not limited to the English-speaking world. That alone speaks volume of how attractive the character itself is and the stories about him are to a large number of audience that has different cultural backgrounds.
    Firstly, Conan Doyle created a character with personalities and abilities that are not universal but universally draw people’s attention in. It is a combination of his intellect, his brilliant skills of deduction and observation, as well as the manner in which he works that make readers and viewers alike invest in him, a hero who fights off crimes and for justice. Moreover, a hero like Holmes is facisnating because on a personal level, he has flaws such as social ineptness and tactlessness which could make him more endearing. His friendship with Watson is also admirable because of their loyalty to each other.
    The transformative potential of the narrative relies on the simplicity of the narrative basic structure: the appearance of a mysterious crime case and the need to solve it. Mystery itself is attractive and the desire to unravel it is the evitable. Thus, seriality creates a platform for this narrative to thrive and transform by the use of reiteration. “Reiteration produces both a sense of expected familarity and unexpected newness, a sense of closure and openess”, as stated by Neuman and Rupp (p. 165) . Every new installment offers a new mystery which is to be solved in the end and the process is repeated in the next release, made new, to be different and exciting but still familiar. What is even more interesting is that the room for development of this process of serial repetition keeps expanding and transforming within itself from classic narrative structure to a more complex supernetwork of narrative, as can be seen in television series nowsaday.
    Due to this transformative potential of the narrative, the story of Sherlock Holmes has traveled beyond London to the outside world. Neuman and Rupp analysed two literary adaptations of Holmes that take place in Shanghai, China and India to illustrate the transformative aesthetics of the narrative. Kelleter stated in Populaer Serialitaet that an important factor of popular aesthetics is the identification of the audience to a community even if it is only imagined. For example, the original Sherlock Holmes universe takes place in London of the 19th century Victorian designed for people of the time. A cultural topography of London is contructed to provide a sense of autheticity, though fictional, for the readers at the time to immerse in the story, to visualise and relate to it in some way.
    Understanding the aesthetics that made Sherlock Holmes famous, the adaptations have employed the same tactics: seriality, and transformation of narrative to suit time and space. Felunda is an Indian series of novels and short stories that centers around an Indian Sherlock Holmes who journey with his companions in various places in India and even to England to solve cases. Felunda is not a simple copy of the original but it has its own unique characteristics that portray a diverse image of a postcolonial India, that is certainly different from that of the original.
    The travel potential of this popular narrative has been made possible by the advance of communication technology. I believe, it also explains that at the beginning when the exchange of culture and information was limited, there was a need for early adaptations to tailor the story to fit the community in which the literature was published. Therefore, there were an Indian Sherlock, a Japanese Sherlock (in the manga series Detective Conan) and an English Sherlock that was raised in Shanghai. Nevertherless, it is not to say that now there is no need for adapting it but the way Sherlock Holmes is adapted has clearly changed due to the the prevalence of cultural exchange. The newest Hollywood film productions and the British television series of Sherlock Holmes clearly have expanded its fandom to many countries around the world with the same but not the same English Sherlock Holmes. It would be possible to conclude that the 21st century has produced a more global audience that is not bounded by concrete national boundaries who share the same taste in popular aesthetics.
    Popular aesthetics lies in, apart from the creation of an universally-interesting character, its transformative potential in narrative that can be adapted to space and time to stay relevant. When it succeeds to do so with the help of serialization and technology, it can certainly be called global aesthetics.

  5. In his essay „Populäre Serialität“, Frank Kelleter claims that due to modern communication technology, popular aesthetics have become increasingly available and elementary but also gradually more adaptable and potentially globalized (30). He points to modern hybrid societies such as India and the United States of America, where there is an abundance of popular culture that addresses a diverse audience, and asserts that popular seriality is a category on the basis of which we can observe social and technological transformations since the 19th century (Ibid. 31).
    An example of this global and transformative aesthetic is Sir Author Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes canon and its countless adaptations. In the original stories, the eccentric detective and his loyal sidekick Dr. Watson were based in Victorian London, which represents the development of drastic urbanisation at the time. The pair solve crimes in this metropolitan city, and “Holmes’s criminal cases regularly enmesh him in a complex transcultural network, which [turn] London into … a contact zone in which different cultures interact and intersect” (Neumann & Rupp, 161). With London being the epicentre of the Empire, and the threat coming in from the periphery, Doyle’s fictional world creates a discourse of domestic versus colonial space (Ibid.).
    However, while this “imperial spatial [model]” (Neumann & Rupp, 162) was still prevalent in the early film and radio adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, we can observe a gradual shift of perspective throughout the years. As we witness significant developments in technology, Holmes begins to leave his native London, and solves crimes in the United States and Soviet Russia. What Kelleter calls an adaptable and potentially globalized aesthetics of popular narratives can be observed in the postcolonial adaptation, the novel When We Were Orphans, by Kazuo Ishiguro. The setting moves between Shanghai and England in the 1930s, creating a “third space” (Ibid. 170) that is neither home nor foreign. Ishiguro describes the struggles of a detective who realizes that his English logic and knowledge are not applicable to the war-torn Shanghai. Methods and meanings that were stable and crucial for colonial empires, are reversed, adapted, or rendered useless in the Chinese context, and thus render possible a criticism of the imperial spatial model.
    Another postcolonial remediation of Sherlock Holmes is the Indian detective Feluda, invented by Satyajit Ray. Ray approaches the metropolitan detective fiction by overturning colonial images of India, and in turn “invert[ing] and reciprocat[ing] the colonial or tourist gaze” (Neumann & Rupp, 174) when his hero travels to England. London is described in stereotypical images, and Feluda becomes witness of consumerism and racism, which makes for an “empowering … Indian, post-independence perspective” (Ibid.).
    While modern Sherlock Holmes adaptations such as Hollywood’s Sherlock Holmes and the BBC’s Sherlock seem to return to the early Sherlock Holmes stories in terms of imperialist perspectives – the detective living in metropolitan London, the threat coming from the Orient – we can read the texts as examples of Kelleter’s global aesthetic. Be it the inclusion of modern technology such as mobile phones, GPS and social media in the BBC television series Sherlock, the emphasis on the assumed romantic relationship between Holmes and Dr. Watson in the American TV show Elementary, or the depiction of Holmes as a modern anti-hero, the Sherlock Holmes adaptations are proof of contemporary technological and cultural changes, just like Ishiguro’s novel and Ray’s Indian detective. While the success of the Sherlock Holmes seriality is based on the recurrence of the iconic detective and his wit, it also “relie[s] on translation and transformation” (Neumann & Rupp, 182), in order to ensure the series’ continual popularity.

  6. That narratives around Sherlock Holmes are strongly characterised by their topography is hard to question after reading Neumann and Rupp’s in-depth analysis on the subject. They mostly seem to understand this as the influence of the culture that surrounded Doyle as an author. To them space is treated is a way to shape and transmit British imperial ideology and understandings of the world.
    While the influence the author’s culture has on their work is undeniable, it should not be forgotten that to an English author writing for an English audience this is also an important tool to create cultural verisimilitude. By assuring them that the London of Sherlock Holmes is, at the very least geographically, their own the story becomes much more accessible and personal. This can be supported by Ray’s adaptation of the character, who decided to achieve a similar effect through the same strategy. By transplanting his Feluda to India he brings the character into a world that is more believable and understandable to his audience. The way Ray used the same tool as Doyle in order to achieve the same effect for a different audience might very well be the exact reason for why Sherlock Holmes has been adapted in so many different ways and by this appealed to different audiences time and time again.
    The characters in Doyle’s stories are by a great deal informed by their surroundings. Where they are and where they come from has a great influence on the way they think and act. This, in turn, means that whenever the location or, even just the execution of a location, change a new set of narrative possibilities opens up. Ray’s Holmes-esque character in India caters to a different audience than Doyle’s in London. Even just changing the specific way a location is played out, as can be seen with Guy Ritchie’s movie adaptation, the TV-show Sherlock which is set in a more modern London or Neil Gaiman’s London as part of a Lovecraftian mythos drastically changes the way a single Sherlock Holmes story plays out.
    By this, the character easily lends himself to one of the factors of serial aesthetics as described by Kelleter, namely that a mixture of known and unexpected features are necessary in order to keep the attention of an audience over a longer period of time. Sherlock Holmes as a character offers the known features. His personality and the work he does, by this informing the kind of stories that develop around him, are the recognisable signpost that the audience is drawn to. By changing his surroundings and thereby the exact nature of events developing, authors are then able to create new narratives without having to be too worried about alienating the audience.
    It might be this relative ease with which Sherlock Holmes lends himself to reinterpretation by means of changing the surroundings that is the reason for why the character has been reiterated so often in various forms. With this, it is also notable that apparently in order to be a Sherlock Holmes-story, the narrative does not even necessarily have to include this specific character. Neither Ray nor Ishiguro equip their character with the name that would make the identification with the character most obvious. Instead, it seems in some cases sufficient to fall back unto a Sherlock-Holmes-archetype that can already be recognised by its audience.
    In conclusion, it seems obvious that space plays an important role in the specific way a Sherlock Holmes story develops and by this is in a large part responsible for the mutability that is, according to Kelleter, necessary for a serial narrative in order to survive. This mutability is also one of the reasons for why this character has been adapted and reimagined so often over the time and by this was able to appeal to an ever-larger audience, turning him into the important character of popular culture he is today. So much so, that it is sometimes not even necessary to use the exact name in order to invoke the effect the character. Through this Sherlock Holmes has almost become an archetype, detached from a specific character, and is therefore perfect for serialised recreation.

  7. The Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle can be seen as a very popular narrative since there have been many adaptations and remediations so far, as, for instance, Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel When We Were Orphans (2000), the Hollywood movies Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) with Robert Downey Jr. , the US television series Elementary (2012-) or the popular BBC series Sherlock (2010-) with Benedict Cumberbatch (cf. Neumann/Rupp 2016: 169). These adaptations are all different in their representations of space. Their “aesthetic practices that inform the construction of popular topographies […] have a unique transformative potential; as agents of a spatial imaginary they provide powerful models of perceiving and understanding the world” (ibid.: 168). According to Kelleter, popular aesthetics are more and more available and at the same time more and more globalised due to modern technologies of communication (cf. Kelleter 2012: 30).
    So the question arises whether the Sherlock Holmes adaptations with its different topographical representations can be seen as an example of the global aesthetics Kelleter describes or rather as a counter-example.
    Generally speaking, all the Holmes remediations “speak to the time of their own making as much as to the historical context they take up” (Neumann/Rupp 2012: 175). So it is not surprising that especially the film versions of the Holmes stories “mirror significant developments in media history” (ibid.: 168). As the film versions show Holmes in a post-imperial society, the protagonist turns into a rather “global figure of popular culture” (ibid.: 176) traversing the “vast extensions of setting and space which comes to supersede the former imperial structuring of places and values in Doyle’s stories” (ibid.). This does not only become evident in the US series Elementary (2012-), but also in the sequel of the Hollywood production with Robert Downey Jr, in which Holmes extends his traditional territory and travels around the world to fight his enemy (cf. ibid.: 176ff.). So London as the former metropolis of the Empire is no longer pictured in a fight against colonial crime, but in a fight against fascism and other continental problems, as, for example, the sequel with Robert Downey Jr. stresses by picking up on the historical memory of the two world wars and the later European threats (cf. ibid.: 178).
    The BBC series with Benedict Cumberbatch as detective Holmes shows an even more contemporary London and thus a modern version of the protagonist, too (cf. ibid.). Not only do the city’s icons such as The London Eye, Russel Square Gardens, South Bank Skate Park or Chinatown mark “London’s status as a uniquely cosmopolitan city” (ibid.: 179), new communication technologies such as Holmes’s multifunctional mobile phone replace the former Victorian gadgets (e.g. telegraph, telephone or magnifying glass) and turn Holmes into a modern guy, who is dependent on his devices, which help him to cope with the “complexities of the contemporary, radically globalised world” (ibid.: 179). At the same time, the viewers of the series are pulled into an “ultra-modern, highly technologised fictional environment” (ibid.) when Holmes’s mobile phone shows his pursuit through the streets of London on screen (cf. ibid.). Furthermore, the “speeded-up transitional shots of London” (ibid.) emphasise the speed and complexity of modern technology and thus of the narrative of the series, as modern technology has a huge impact on society and the modern world.
    There might be one counter-example of Kelleter’s global aesthetics in a video clip on the city of London, which was produced for the Olympic Games in 2012 and featured Benedict Cumberbatch known as Sherlock Holmes from the series, taking the viewers on a walk through the cultural and social history of the city. Although the clip was “heavily equipped with past and present cultural makeovers” (ibid.: 181), the 7/7 bombings is the “only reference to contemporary multiculture” (ibid.). The clip focuses a lot more on cultural imaginings showing iconic sites such as the Thames, the British Museum, a recitation of William Wordsworth’s poem Westminster Bridge (1802) or the statue of Winston Churchill and thus on “topographies of an otherwise bygone era” (ibid.). Especially the animated beating heart with its arteries and veins inside the British Museum’s statue is an “iconic pattern of the Thames through inner London” (ibid.) by hinting on the imperial times when the river was one of the major waterways connecting England with its colonies (cf. ibid.).
    All in all, the Holmes adaptations count as an example of Kelleter’s global aesthetics as they “constitute a complex transcultural network, a globally entangled topography” (ibid.: 169) by moving with the times and using modern communication technologies to show their protagonists living in a globalised world. Nonetheless, the London clip produced for the Olympic Games 2012 demonstrates that, even though technology has been improved and modernised, the imperial times with their cultural legacies are not forgotten and that London is still considered with pride as the centre of the former Empire.

  8. The examples of Sherlock Holmes representations given by Neumann and Rupp do present Kelleter’s aspect of “global aesthetic” that is found in popular narratives.
    The central topography in the Sherlock Holmes narrative is the city landscape of London, but as “the materiality of space (…) [is] traversed by culturally circulating narratives” (p.160) the landscape changes and evolves. The landscape is invented in a new way yet simultaneously kept as a standard, as that what is already knwon. This is what makes up popular seriality according to Kelleter and Neumann/Rupp: New, creative and surprising elements of a standardised concept that is therefor “readily available for imagination”

  9. The topographical representations of Holmes adaptations Neumann and Rupp describe in their essay are an example for such a ‘global aesthetic’ of a popular narrative. As they are modern adaptations, they needed to evolve in order to suit the contemporary audience’s tastes because the modern readers/viewers live in a globalized world. For this reason, the topographies portrayed need to be relatable to the public of the adaptation. Today, even more than before, the public’s interests is the most important because there is an impressive amount of series and the competition is much fiercer than in the 19th century, of course. Nowadays, in order to have as much success as possible, producers need to appeal to people from all over the world, and not everybody is aware of the historical and cultural environment of the Victorian London in which the original Sherlock Holmes lives in. For this reason, the topography must change. In this way, more people can identify with the characters and the situations and this means that more people will probably watch the show till the end. This strategy is vital to a series, unless it is directed to a very small selected audience. Moreover, most of the series are meant to be more entertaining than educational. Kelleter explains this public-caused change in the development of a series in the following passage:

    ‘Die beschriebene Entwicklungsdynamik lässt sich vor allem für überdurch- schnittlich hybride (multilinguale, multiethnische, multireligiöse und stark migrantische) Gesellschaften nachweisen, die bei der Entwicklung vielfach aneignungsfähiger und damit überhaupt erst massenhaft nutzbarer Artefakte nicht zufällig eine Vorreiterrolle spielen. Unterhaltungsformate aus solchen Gesellschaften sind für die globale Populärkultur oft stilbildend, weil sie, um ein multiethnisches, multilinguales oder multireligiöses Publikum anzusprechen, zur Verallgemeinerung formaler Strukturen geradezu gezwungen sind: Je heterogener die Adressaten, desto voraussetzungsloser, aber auch desto flexibler müssen die verwendeten künstlerischen Ausdrucksformen sein.’ (Kelleter, 30)

    Neumann and Rupp provide a considerable list of ways the topographies of Sherlock Holmes’ adaptations diverged from the original one. “When We Were Orphans” and “Feluda” are loosely connected with the original Sherlock Holmes. The detective protagonists live in a Postcolonial environment and this perspective is an immense change from the conservative close-mindedness typical of the 19th century. These adaptations challenge the view of the East and ‘England is removed from the centre of attention just as the stereotypical association of peripheral locales like India with crime is dissolved.’ (Neumann, 173)
    Generally, all the adaptations listed by Neumann and Rupp mention mobility and travelling much more than Doyle does. In this way, they represent the Postcolonial world, in which, through new technologies and globalisation, travel is made possible. For example ‘Feluda “does venture out of India” […], whereas Doyle’s Holmes is largely home-bound, his moral bias relying on stereotyping the colonies as criminal spaces yet only knowing them at a distance.’ (Neumann, 174)
    In contrast to these two adaptations, Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes” and BBC’s “Sherlock” have London as setting, but a Hollywood conception of Victorian London for the former and a “millennial” London for the latter. Both works are much closer to the original work than Ray and Ishiguro’s works but they still have topographies that are compatible to the ‘global aesthetic’ of the contemporary audience in order to be a mass-product. In conclusion it is only thanks to the continue adaptation of Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” according to the ‘global aesthetic’ ‘that the English detective has remained a popular figure, and that the other stories surrounding his character continue to serve as a viable means of reading the city and of detecting topographies of London.’ (Neumann, 183)

  10. In their article “The Formation of Cultural Topographies and Popular Seriality: The Cases of Sherlock Holmes”, Birgit Neumann and Jan Rupp argue how seriality enables the mapping of spaces using adaptions of Sherlock Holmes as example. London is often the central space or at the very least a revisited space in adaptations that take place elsewhere. The city is presented in various ways and, depending on the adaptation, London is mapped out and presented differently.

    If one understands Kelleter’s global aesthetic as one that is the opposite of local, an aesthetic that can appeal to people all over the world, I would argue the topographical representations in these adaptations are not global. On the one hand, a globalized aesthetic can be understood as a conglomeration of many big cities rather than the representation of a city that is so well known and so easily recognizably, such as London. A city that is remarkably distinct, even in all these various interpretations. While London itself is a global city, it is questionable whether representations of it can have a globalized aesthetic. One could argue that the most distinctive features of the city that occur in all theses adaptations, such as the main touristic sights of London, contribute to a globalized aesthetic. However, the article argues that London is staged in different ways, often historically framed and creating various atmospheres.

    On the other hand, globalized aesthetic means popular in the sense that it appeals to people all over the world, which is a strong claim. Considering the multiplicity of cultures of the world it seems impossible. Kelleter argues that the globalized aesthetic emerges because of modern communication technology, which arguably is not a global phenomenon since it is not accessible to all.

    Neumann and Rupp also discuss a few adaptations whose main space is not England, but rather Shanghai and India, respectively. Ray’s description of India is argued as offering an alternative to Westernized imaginings of the place. However, subverting dominant colonial views by giving the colonized country a voice does not mean that the aesthetic of the representation is globalized. Discussing Kazuo Ishiguro’s When We Were Orphans, which takes place in Shanghai, Rupp and Neumann argue that the author “subverts the hierarchical orders and spatial boundaries introduced by colonial history and creates a dynamic plurality of entangled spaces in motion” (p. 170). This serves as a further illustration how the adaptations all take different approaches to mapping spaces. Even though all together they cover a broad range, they all over a subjective and new perspective on topographical representation rather than sharing a globalized aesthetic.

    Their argument seems to be that the topographical representations differ vastly and therefore it seems unlikely that they have a global aesthetic. For example, the adaptation starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes is strongly influenced by media technologies (p. 179). This can be regarded as modern rather than global. In contrast, Ray’s description of London is described as “colonization in reverse”, which does not make it seem that a globalized aesthetic was in the foreground.

    Nevertheless, Rupp and Neumann regard the figure of Sherlock itself as global (p.176), meaning that he can be written in different places and somehow it always works. It is not the way the spaces are written that can be seen as globalized but rather that the main character can be relocated and adapted to various spaces. They argue that “the various adaptations and remediations themselves constitute a complex transcultural network, a globally entangled topography”. As far as I understood, this does not refer to the aesthetic but rather that the settings of the adaptations cover the globe, sometimes even within one single adaptation.

  11. Study Question #2
    Based on the class discussions and readings of the past weeks, we can say that there are, with some exceptions, structural similarities between the older textual serial forms, like the short stories published in Victorian periodicals, and the newer examples of fan fictions. First of all, both forms are produced mainly for entertainment. The Victorian periodicals emerged during a time when printing technology improved majorly and the masses became more literate. George Newnes, the creator of the Strand Magazine, started publishing his magazine as a source of entertainment for the growing middle-class commuting market, so it was sold mostly at railway stations (Beare 8). Today, fan fiction is written for the same purpose – to entertain. While the writers of fan fiction can create the storylines or endings they prefer, the readers can further immerse themselves in the worlds of Harry Potter or their favourite boy band. The stories are therefore also heavily influenced by the fans. On platforms like Wattpad for example, writers can exchange, comment on, and edit each other’s texts, and influence the story. The same already happened in the 19th century. When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle decided to kill off his character Sherlock Holmes, there was a big outcry (Wiltse 108). The indignation of the fans was so great that Doyle eventually gave in and brought the eccentric detective back to life. Of course, money was a driving factor here as well. This is where the older serial forms and fan fiction diverge. While authors like Doyle, Dickens, and Wilde published their stories in order to generate an income – the main reason why Doyle kept publishing his Sherlock Holmes stories – fan fiction is written purely for the sake of writing. Scholars coined this creative act of writing without monetary compensation “fan labor” (Jones 3.4). Not that their creative work would lack quality, quite the opposite: Some of the works created by fans are “often crafted with production values as high as any in the official culture” (Fiske 39).
    Based on these arguments, I would say that seriality is a driving force of convergence culture. Seriality makes for an extended life span of characters, stories and worlds. The success of the Sherlock Holmes stories was due to their serial publication. Readers invested time in the story world and characters, and wanted to know what other absurd cases the detective could solve. It only makes sense, then, that his adventures would continue on screen, stage and radio, and even travel as far as India. However, other than in fan fiction, money is another major driving force when it comes to convergence culture. The collaboration of different media industries is only possible because enough money is involved. According to Henry Jenkins, convergence is “both a top-down corporate driven-process and a bottom-up consumer driven process” (18), meaning that media companies are trying to create more revenue by spreading their content across several platforms, and consumers become active participants that gain a certain amount of control over the production.

    Beare, Geraldine. “Indexing the Strand magazine.” The Indexer, vol. 14, no. 1, 1984, pp. 8-13.

    Wiltse, Ed. “’So Constant an Expectation’: Sherlock Holmes and Seriality.” Narrative, vol. 6, no. 2, 1998, pp. 105-122, JSTOR, (Accessed 6 May 2019).

    Jones, Bethan. “Fifty Shades of Exploitation: Fan Labor and Fifty Shades of Grey.” In “Fandom and/as Labor,” ed. by Mel Stanfill and Megan Condis, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, 15, 2014.

    Fiske, John. “The Cultural Economy of Fandom.” The Adoring audience: fan culture and popular media, ed. Lisa A. Lewis. Routledge, 1992, pp. 30-49.

    Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where New and Old Media Collide. New York University Press, 2006.

  12. Historically, serialization and serial text forms have had similar features. Aspects of contemporary fanfiction and fan production can be found even as early as the Arthurian legends. Norman “fans” added characters to the narrative similar to the way fanfiction writers add OCs (Original Characters) to the Universe they are retelling. Through the dissemination and retelling of a narrative more consumers have access to the story and the opportunity to add to its universe.

    Already this aspect gives way to the idea of convergence. Nowadays, the dissemination of a narrative is far more prevalent through various technological advances. The free flow of information not only between people but also between media platforms makes it easier for consumers to become producers and change products to be more to their liking.

    This fan participation, though in a different capacity, can also be seen in the first surge of serialized fiction during the Victorian era. Writers such as Dickens, Doyle, Dumas and Melville published many of their novels in a periodical or feuilleton. Many of these stories were written at the same time as they were published which opened up the possibility of changing the narrative to the liking of the audience.

    The success of these serialized forms and the audiences’ appetite for more, which can be seen in the audiences cry for Sherlock Holmes resurrection by Doyle (an aspect commonly found in contemporary soap operas or telenovelas), led to very long narratives. Contemporary audio and audio-visual serialized forms show a similar proclivity to long lasting narratives, the deferral of closure and the idea of “What happens next?”.

    To get back to convergence, it is clear to see that convergence, and the emergence of new media platforms and delivery technologies, serialized forms were benefitted. This has led to an interdependency of the one to the other. Seriality would not be so prevalent were it not for convergence and the possibilities of dissemination convergence offers. On the other hand the constant consumption and prevalence of serialized forms and the free flow of these forms drive an ever more converging culture.

  13. 1. There are structural similarities between the older textual serial forms and the newer ones.
    First of all, not only television series and serials are a “human construct, and […] the result of human choice, cultural decisions and social pressures” (Fiske/Hartley 2004: 5) and thus “represent reality” (ibid.), ongoing stories in weekly periodicals and serialised novels from the Victorian Age are too, as, for instance, the work by Charles Dickens shows. Older and newer textual forms both developed at a certain point in time, in times with certain structures in society, and are thus closely linked to a certain cultural background. Charles Dickens novels, for instance, are socio-critical and address poverty and social stratification of Victorian society. In comparison to this, television formats such as reality shows are only enabled to run because they use today’s participatory culture and the modern technology of phone calls and social media votings to lead from one episode to another. Moreover, film genres such as dystopian film deal with the problems today’s society has with the increase in digitisation and the drastic changes in global politics (e.g. I, Robot; Hunger Games).
    Secondly, both forms use a semiotic language to encode their meanings and, at the same time, give hints on how to decode them. It is obvious that their languages might differ in their structure since literary products follow the language of the “written word” (ibid.: 3) while filmic ones work with “oral and visual” (ibid.) semiotics. However, their decoding systems are both arbitrary and depend on the individual decoding of the audience based on their individual social experience (cf. ibid.: 81ff.). This is why defamiliarization works both in the written and in the audio-visual medium, which can be found in Kafka’s or Brecht’s novels and dramas (cf. ibid.: 5f.) as well as in the film genre of satire, which shows the audience familiar things in an unfamiliar or uncommon way and by doing so confronts them “with their true place in the ideological framework of society” (ibid.: 6).
    Although Fiske and Hartley argue that television is “ephemeral” (ibid.: 3), both the written and the audio-visual serial form are consistent as they are both stored in a medium that can be accessed whenever it is intended. A written text is stored on a piece of paper that may later appear in a book or a newspaper. This text stays there as the used material, ink, was invented to not disappear. When it comes to television as a serial form, Fiske and Hartley might not have thought of the way to store television with the help of a VCR or a DVD. All films, series and serials shown on TV today are available in many electronic shops. Furthermore, when their book on how to read television came out in 2004, Fiske and Hartley had not had the most modern way of watching TV in their minds – streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Youtube, which store films and series in a similar way as books are stored in libraries. Using these platforms, the audience are able to access the content whenever and as often they intend to do so and as long as some of the platforms’ programs are not deleted or restored.
    These streaming platforms are also one of the reasons why seriality is a driving force of convergence culture. They enable producers of film and television programs to spread their content more easily when it can be accessed by different media forms combining broadcasting with the Internet. In doing so, they make transmedia storytelling possible and, at the same time, leave space for the production of new serial forms such as real-time series on Youtube or other social media platforms (e.g. Skam). These new serial forms do not only result from new media forms, but also from the fact that the money-making film and television industry attempts to make the audience keep watching its products over a long period of time. So in order to keep people interested, film and television productions need to be interesting and move with the times by creating new content.

  14. Study question #1

    Serial forms have evolved and expanded considerably since the time of technological advance in printing and the development of printing press in the 19th century. With the emergence of different media platforms in contemporary time, come into play are not only written texts such as serialized novels, comics, graphic novels but also television series, serialized podcast, fanfiction as a new genre and video games. Although they are different in formats, they all share certain structural similarities as their common core is their seriality feature.
    Seriality is prominently characterized by its continuation and interruption. Most novels of the 19th century were published in monthly or weekly periodicals. Thus, this particular way of publication and distribution meant that the whole story did not reach the hands of readers all at once but were divided into smaller installments with a constant deferral of closure. This creates feelings of suspense and anticipation for the readers which draw them more to the story. This still applies to Netflix or Amazon Prime, popular streaming providers of TV series. Though it has introduced a new concept of binge-watching into seriality, which allows viewers to watch an entire season in a few days, there will be always a cliff-hanger at the end telling the audience to wait for next season, which would likely to come out the year after. Besides this technique of delayed narrative closure, recurrent characters and an ongoing storylines are also commonly found in all serial forms. Furthermore, the fact that there is an audience subscribing to a magazine, a periodical, a TV channel, a podcast, a comic series, a streaming network is exactly the desired result of seriality with its strategy of continuation and interruption.
    The second similarity is the adaptability of both new and old serial forms. Seriality is a mode of representation and consumption that makes excellent economic sense. As the printing technology became more advanced which made it easier for distribution, Victorian periodicals could reach a wider audience, which were not only elites but also the middle-class, thus, were mass produced with affordable prices. To appeal to such a big audience, the story of serial forms has to tailor to people’s taste and possess a suitable socio-cultural context and even political climate to stay relevant. A good example is Sherlock Holmes, which started out as a popular serialized novel in Britain, and then proliferated into multiple literary adaptations in Japan and India, into a various TV series and movies. All were changed and adapted to attract different target groups. Furthermore, adaptability also results in endless opportunities for variation and continuation.
    This adaptability feature does not only come from the knowledge and perception of the author, writer, producer but is also made possible by the audience participation. Participatory culture helps content creators navigate their work to remain attractive and assure consumption. In addition, publishing or releasing in installments is a strategy to gauge the audience’s response to a literary work or to an episode and so on. Without knowing the reaction of his readers, Charles Dickens probably would not have written another ending to his famous novel Great Expectations. The early sitcom of the 20th century also employed an active audience to test out different jokes to pick the ones that are the most effective.
    It is difficult to say that seriality is a driving force of convergence culture. Convergence culture, which is defined as the circulation of media contents across different media platforms, helps seriality thrive. Having access to different platforms meaning reaching a wider audience catering to their interests is the goal of seriality. According to Henry Jenkin, convergence “is shaped by the desires of media conglomerates to expand their empires across multiple platforms and by the desires of consumers to have the media they want where they want it, when they want it, and in the format they want”. Thus, the driving forces of convergence are money and an existing fanbase, which reduces the risk of failure. These driving forces are also of seriality. There is a correlation between the two but this does not imply causal relationship. For a product to be converged into a different platform, it has just to be popular and has a fan base. A good example of this is Beowulf, which started out from an Old English epic poem and then was adapted into a movie in 2007 and a game of the same year. None of these works were serialized.

  15. Study Question 1:

    Older and newer textual forms of seriality have many structural traits in common. They are usually published in shorter instalments and on a regular basis, often with a fix schedule or frequency . As there tends to be some time between the publications of the parts, the storylines are rather simple instead of over-complex, so that the readers can easily follow and catch up. Even though those stories are not always realistic, they adress either peoples‘ everyday life experiences or other topics which are relatable to them. This catches interest, promotes identification and allows the audience to implement the consumption of the serial instalments in their everyday routine. This is also a benefit of the shorter chapters. Victorian readers could read them when looking through the newspaper or periodical (alongside other articles and genres), whilst modern audiences can consume them while browsing the web or even on their mobile devices.

    Furthermore, serial texts often use cliffhangers or introduce a new conflict at the end of one instalment, in order to strengthen reader engagement and keep the audience loyal over a longer period of time. This is not least a significant economic aspect. Seriality also allows writers to adapt to the readers‘ expectations and reactions and to change the direction of a story, which could be seen in the Victorian era with for example the „resurrection“ of Sherlock Holmes because of a public outcry. It is also common today, be it in fan fiction or other publications such as book series or even transmedial web series, for example are the roles of certain characters enhanced as soon as they become popular with the audience. Reader participation has affected serial storytelling throughout its media history and therefore all those characteristics apply well to convergence culture in general.

    Convergence culture serves economic purposes even better, since it allows to adapt and/or vary the same content over and over again in order to sell it several times. Also, the audience’s attention can be transferred from one medium to the next. This applies to fan culture as well, allowing for the readers to become a part of a transmedial universe surrounding their favourite series. Whether or not seriality is a necessity in convergence culture is hard to discuss, not least because it depends on how to define seriality. It could be argued that transmedial representations of one story always bear traits of seriality. In any case, seriality seems to be a very common characteristic of works (if this structuralist term should be applied) within convergence culture. This goes hand in hand with modern media economies and it is therefore hard to find examples of non-serial convergent products. Even though I would not state that seriality is the driving force of convergence culture, it absolutely seems to be one of the core elements of it and seems to have forwarded it significantly.

  16. Agathe Schäfer
    Study Question 1:
    There are structural similarities between older textual serial forms and newer ones.
    While some works were first published in installments in Magazines to make more money, such as Robinson Crusoe an important structure of serials soon developed.
    Cliffhangers are used in all forms of serials. Serials are are divided into several parts and cliffhangers cut the storyline off at a point that keeps the reader/listener/audience interested and curious about what will happen next.
    This element allows the stories to continue for a long time and with that make it very profitable. Seriality plays an important role in convergence culture because of the structural elements and its profitability. Various adaptations are proof that a story can easily be told in different formats.
    Sitcoms for example originated in radio and copied elements from life performances such as life audience reactions or exaggerated/theatrical acting. The content is made to appeal to a large audience and can reflect current issues within a society as well as moral messages. The most important aspect of serials however is to entertain by providing interesting storylines that the audience/readership can decode as well as presenting relatable topics everyone can identify with no matter which background someone comes from. The serial format can draw out the plot over a long period of time and keep the reader/audience engaged for years. While one novel can be read in a relatively short time, the reader stays longer with the product if it is published in weekly or monthly installments.
    Many people grow up alongside characters they see on television which creates a loyalty to the series. Fanfictions show that the readers/audiences investment to stories goes far beyond a financial aspect when people write just to share their ideas without asking for payment. The circle closes again, when fanficions are adapted into book series or even brought to the screen.

  17. In terms of reproduction, textual and audio-visual serial forms do not have a significant difference nowadays at least. Platforms like Wattpad enable readers to write their own stories as well as publishing and distributing them amongst potential audiences. A camera and a microphone are easy to purchase and YouTube or audio platforms like Spotify give spectators the opportunity to publish their own content, the matter of production quality left aside. However, I think there is a difference in how we consume those different types of media and in this regard, it is important to not only differentiate between textual and audio-visual serial forms, but also between audio and visual serial forms.
    When we consume textual serial forms, we must direct all our attention towards the act of consumption, otherwise important parts of the content might get overlooked and thus the content will not be thoroughly transported by the media form. Audio-visual serial forms are often consumed while attending another task, such as house chores or driving a car. This multitasking consumption appears more often with audio media forms such as audiobooks or podcasts, rather than with visual media forms like television series, for obvious reasons. In addition, this might be one of the reasons why audio-visual serial forms are a lot more popular than textual serial forms, as they do not require the full attention of the consumer and fit in the contemporary world in which no one has time anymore to read books or other forms of textual series.
    The accessibility used to be another difference between those two serial forms: In order to read a new chapter of a textual series, one had to go out and buy it, whereas with audio-visual serial forms, one must simply possess a television set, radio or some other sort of receiver to have access to multiple audio-visual series. However, this has changed throughout the years and nowadays it is possible to consume multiple forms of serial media with just one device: the smartphone. It blurs the lines between textual and audio-visual series as we can now access all the different serial forms no matter where or when, ultimately eradicating the difference of accessibility.
    This leaves the different manner of consumption as the only difference between textual and audio-visual serial forms. However, this difference is nowadays also close to eradication as audiobooks are on the rise, transforming the content of textual series into audio series.

  18. Serialisation is a form of publication that has grown more and more popular since the 19th century and that can be found in many different textual forms. However, regardless of the textual form of its publication, many structural aspects are typical to all serialised formats.
    When one reads the serialised Victorian novels, there are many aspects that appear to be typical for serialised publication in newspapers, but that can still be found in more modern textual forms such as TV series and podcast series. First, the publishing format has remained more or less the same. One gets instalments at (mainly regular) intervals, which in the Victorian age usually used to be weekly occurrences, whilst with more modern forms there might also be daily instalments, as is the case e.g. for soap operas.
    This form of publication influences the way a story is told. The aim is to keep the audience interested and willing to watch or read the next instalment and this is achieved by cliff -hangers, i.e. the storytelling ending at an exciting or thrilling moment, thus leaving the audience in suspense of the solution. Cliff hangers can be found in all textual formats of serialised texts.
    Furthermore, due to the pauses between instalments and due to the long period over which a series is published, the producers of the series can react to the audiences’ reception of the series and make changes according to this reception and according to general developments, e.g. new technologies or trends. Dickens e.g. changed his characters when he noticed the disapproval of his readership, long running soap operas change their story telling to maintain interest.
    Another aspect most serialised formats share is the commercial exploit of its audience. The Victorian newspapers place advertisements next to its stories, soap operas use more subtle product placements, TV series have commercial breaks and internet platforms usually depict advertisement as well.
    As one can see, many aspects of serialisation have stayed the same regardless of their textual format. Is it, however, the serial format that has, due to its structure, been a driving force of convergence culture?
    Convergence, as defined by Jenkins in Worship at the Altar of Convergence is the “flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries and the migratory behaviour of media audiences” (p.2). Whilst one necessary driving force for the emergence of convergence culture was digitization (p.11), the format of seriality can be seen as further driving the process. On one hand, it allows easy reshaping of publication formats. This can be seen with early text, such as the stories that were published in serialised format in newspapers, only to be later on published as books, thus appearing on different platforms and published by different industries. More modern serial formats also show easy adaptation to different media platforms, as one can e.g. see in the publication of the After series, that was first published in instalments on an internet platform to be then published as a novel, thus travelling different platforms and industries. This also happens the other way around, when for example classics like Tolstoy’s War and Peace are adapted for television and released in a serialised format.
    But why are serial publications so often converged and is it an aspect of seriality that enables this conversion or is it rather simply due to the development of modern technologies? What is unique to series as compared to compact volumes or films is the long period of time over which they are consumed, therefore leading to a strong identification of the audience with the text. This identification might then lead to consumers creating their own sequels or filling gaps in the story by fan fiction, thus having the text change medium and publisher. Series, usually being part of mass culture, furthermore have the advantage over single volumes or films, that there is no “fixed” opinion on them that was developed by literary or cultural studies scholars. This is due to their constant development, their short lived mode and the room that is left for interpretation as we get a “continuous stream of images almost all of which are deeply familiar in structure and form” that can be decoded in various ways (Reading Television, Fiske and Hartley, p.2-4). The room thus left for the audiences interpretations enables various uses of the text and therefore its convergence between different platforms, industries and audiences.
    All in all one can say that there are structural similarities between all textual formats of series and that these did play a role in the emergence of convergence culture.

  19. Study Questions Respons 2
    Question 2

    When serial forms first emerged, they were textual. They were published in small instances in magazines or newspapers. With the invention of the radio as well as the television, the serial form proved to be persistent, popular and adaptive. Analysing examples of textual and audio-visual forms of seriality shows that there is indeed a fundamental difference between them. The medium does not disappear behind the material or the form. Instead, I want to argue that it shapes it so heavily, that the both mode and medium are as relevant to the analysis as the material itself.

    Each medium comes with its own distinctive features, which means that the author or creator has to work with it in order to produce a well-received serial product. In a text such as appeared in periodicals, the characters have to be memorable. While the space to develop a story arch for each episode is limited, using one protagonist allows for that character to experience many different adventures. While it seems that the same could be said about the audio-visual serial that is the sitcom, there are other types of series, where the difference can be seen more clearly. In a novel trilogy for example, the author has a lot of space to elaborate on setting and characters and can be extremely detailed. They can take time for world-building and the series can take a slower pace. However, trilogies like these are often adapted into films, from textual to audio-visual. Even though it is still a serial form, it is not a TV series as such. In the adaptation, a lot of material has to be cut, which often comes to the loss of character building as well as a compromised timeline of the plot. Each medium offers certain possibilities as well as restrictions.

    These differences are however not only content specific. They also regard the production. A textual series is, to some extent, easier to maintain and continue. It’s production heavily relies on one person, the author. Of course, there are other factors involved, such as the publisher or the editor, but the creation of the series is fairly inexpensive and does not require much material. In contrast, a TV series or serial is much more like a project. It is written by multiple people, and the cast requires a lot of actors that have to be available for the duration of the series as well as work well in character with the others (this argument was mentioned in the class discussion).

    The most significant difference lies in the different consuming behaviour as well as engagement of the audience. First, reading is most commonly a solitary activity, while TV can be watched together. A series can become a shared event, or a weekly date with friends or family. Book or newspaper are more commonly read by oneself. Secondly, reading is also a lot more active, while watching television simply requires sitting in front of a TV or another streaming device. From a text, the audience can quote or imagine new stories and write fan fiction or create art works. From filmed material, fans can make edited videos, gifs, memes using pictures. Textual seriality also leaves a lot of room for visual interpretation, while in an audio-visual series, the visuals are determined by the creators.

    All in all, it seems that the medium is the strongest influence on the possibilities of the material adaption of the creator’s idea as well as on the mode of production, in this case, seriality. Therefore, I would argue that the medium makes a fundamental difference to what the serial form can do. However, there are also many similiarities. One of the major one’s mentioned here is the general space given for world- and character- building that is not given in stand-alone films or novels.

  20. In order to fully comprehend the similarities and differences of serial forms, it is essential to consider the key characteristics of the respective serial forms. In the following I will elaborate on these commonalities and differences between textual and audio-visual serial forms in accordance to Sean O’Sullivan’s “Six Elements of Seriality.”
    O’Sullivan names six elements which are essential to every serial narrative; namely: Iteration, design, multiplicity, world-building, personnel and momentum (O’Sullivan). Each medium demand and offers certain ways of expressing these elements in sometimes individual and unique ways across media. It appears that world-building, personnel, multiplicity and iteration function in similar ways in both textual and audio-visual narratives, as the medium seems to have no direct influence on these elements of a story at first glance. In their text “The Formation of Cultural Topographies and Popular Seriality: The Cases of Sherlock Holmes,” Neumann and Rupp elaborate on the role of imagined landscapes in serial narratives and conclude that world-building has already been an essential element to early textual serial media productions. In both serial forms, personnel and world are not entirely fixed and hold potential for alterations. At the same time, the effect of reality shows that the construction of a seemingly coherent and natural world demands medium-specific ways of producing a representation that is perceived as a coherent universe. The word “stuff” (which might be used to describe an assembly of artifacts in a book) needs to be more elaborated in an audio-visual form, as one cannot simply utilize an objectively defined accumulation of objects to represent a highly meaningful, yet barely ‘resembling’, word (McCloud, 146). The word “stuff” does not allow further interpretation, a respective audio-visual adaptation of the same textual narrative, however, would require a meaningful choice of objects constituting the word “stuff” that would then be represented.
    Elements of design and momentum, however, seem to do differ greatly in the given examples. In matters of momentum, it proved useful to understand narrative gaps between individual narratological installments as poetic silences which provide meaning in being empty. Textual serial narratives produce sentences, paragraphs, chapters and volumes, which are all separated and yet connected by the gap between them. Readers are assumed to fill in those gaps entirely by themselves in textual serial narratives, whereas audio-visual serial narratives provide a form of filling the gap and still making it appear as gaps. This can be seen when considering cinematographic non-diegetic effects, such as continuity editing, which is concerned with providing meaningful transitions across various narratological segments of an installment. These gaps in the diegetic narrative are, however, not perceived as gaps and might even contribute to the momentum and design of a given audio-visual narrative. A superimposition can, for example, cross the narratological gap between two characters quite elegantly while providing meaning to the viewer in a way textual serials do not seem to be able to. Even in mediums like the graphic novel, which combines textual and visual elements, the same effect of a superimposition can hardly be achieved.
    It has been shown that textual and audio-visual narratives differ greatly in the ways they are able to convey these elements of seriality, however, their commonality cannot be denied either, as both serial forms convey a high amount of meaning through these six elements.

    Daniel Zeiß

  21. There is a fundamental difference between the textual serial forms and the audio-visual serial forms we discussed. I think the media form is extremely important for the way the recipient is going to perceive the text and also because it will change immensely the way s/he is going to interpret the text. In the following text I am going to explain why.
    The textual serial forms need less people to be written and published and the whole process costs also much less than an audiovisual series. With the example of Wattpad, which we discussed some weeks ago, today’s literature can also only need one person from start to finish. Authors only need a device with an internet connection to publish their serialised works. Moreover they can reach millions of people and for free. On the other hand, to produce and distribute an episode countless people are needed, such as for example: actors, stage designers, make up artists, producers, several types of technicians, post production staff, special effects staff and screen writers just to name a few. It is a team work which needs to be organised and coordinated. In any case, because of all these people, the episode will never look exactly like it was originally imagined by the creator: each person brings his\her own interpretation of the original idea influencing the final product for better or for worse. An author of a text has much more control over his\her own work then the author of an audiovisual work. Furthermore, it obviously takes much more time to write a text and make it into a video then just writing it. For this reason, to write a textual series is far easier than to make an audiovisual one.
    Still, audiovisual series are preferred by the masses and it is much more probable that a television series will have more success than a textual series. Funnily enough, most of the most successful textual series get televised sooner of later. A text’s success could be measured by how many times it has made into a movie or into a series or both. On the other hand, it is rare for readers to like the transformation of a text they have read into a video. Personally, for example, there were only three cases in which I have liked the movie more than the book it was based on. This happens because a text can convey innumerable images in the reader’s mind, whose imagination is free to interpret them however s/he likes. Even with the most precise description, a reader is still going to have a different perception of the object described than the author’s. The difference will inexorably be even bigger with the audio-visual version of a text. Details, characters, events which were important to the text will be cut out and new ones will be added, also music will be added, characters will (necessaril) look different/ behave differently than in the original text for budget/time/production reasons.
    Comics lay between textual serial forms and audio-visual serial forms. They could still be done by one person and, even though they provide a key to the visual interpretation of characters, situations and environments, they still leave enough space for the reader’s own imagination and interpretation: “When we abstract an image through cartooning, we’re not so much eliminating details as we’re focusing on specific details. By stripping down an image to its essential “meaning”, an artist can amplify that meaning in a way that realistic art can’t.” (McCloud, 30)
    In conclusion, textual serial forms and audiovisual forms are necessarily very different because of the way they are made and because of the way the recipient consumes them. Still, they retain similarities such as for example the narrative structure and mode of narration, and they also retain the similarities which make them both into series, e.g. cliffhangers and the deferral of closure and the importance of the audience’s reception in order for the series to continue, have more success and make more profit.

  22. Question 2:

    In the context of convergence, Jenkins talks about interaction between different media forms, the flow of content from one platform to another and the “collision” of old and new media. From the examples of the multiple genres, which were discussed in class, one could observe that works published in serial form do not at all share the same characteristics. Each of them is shaped by the media through which it is diffused.

    The “convergent” culture of the modern society makes it possible for any text to be converted into an audio-visual or a digital form. Thus, there is place for comparison between these forms and the impact they have on the audience. While the written text offers the reader a significant freedom of imagination, the medial version imposes the director’s concept of what is written. This often leads to disapproval and frustration in the public, since its perception does not fully correspond to the one of the producer.

    On the other hand, the digitalization of today’s audio-visual series allows a direct interaction between spectators and the producer, or the author. Depending on the reaction of the audience, this interaction may influence the future of the work and can sometimes even result in a conflict of the producer on the one side and the fans on the other, as the example of The Potter Wars shows. The Potter Wars serve as a proof that limiting fan’s freedom to recreate and readapt motives of the original series immediately leads to negative responses and loss of audience.

    Another aspect, which differentiates the medial from the textual form, is the use of technical effects. In sitcoms and soap operas, for instance, multiple visual and sound effects are at work in order to help influence the spectator. The excerpt of “Friends” without laughing track, which was shown in class, reveals to what extent such effects determine people’s understanding of the series. Regardless if the joke is funny, the recorder laughter provokes a similar reaction in the audience showing it the “right” way to decode the message. Background music also plays an important role for the creation of the desired effect of the scene. It is an essential element for soap operas, where the dramatic tension needs to be underlined. In this way, technical effects evoke certain associations in the spectator’s mind even before the dialogue begins.

    To sum up, while the textual form of seriality leaves more room for interpretation, the audio-visual one influences the perception of the audience in a way, defined by the producer. However, with the development of technical effects, a much more lifelike experience is achieved, which takes entertainment to a whole new level.

  23. Is there a fundamental difference between the textual serial forms and the audio-visual serial forms we discussed? If you think there is, why? If you think that media difference is malleable or less important in discussing seriality, what are your arguments?

    While it is obvious that the way in which seriality is produced and enforced in the newer, audio-visually oriented forms that have developed over the last decades is strongly influenced by the textual modes of the past there are differences that lead to a number of specific techniques that are employed in audio-visual modes of seriality. The shared basis of sequentiality that is produced, for example, through the use of recurring characters, overarching plotlines and continued deferral of conclusion are for example strongly interrupted through the need for visual continuity and the challenges the required economical mode of production poses to the creation of a serial narrative.
    While a story told through purely literal means is, in an economic sense, only limited by the costs of production and distribution for a single medium, say a book or comic, an audio-visual presentation complicates the required infrastructure for production exponentially. Not only is there a writer required to create the narrative as such, but actors have to be paid to portray characters, or animators are needed to create other visual representations of the narrated events. Music, voice acting, artificially created sound-environments have to be developed, produced and implemented in order to achieve the audio-level of the medium. Sets have to be built or locations have to be found were filming is allowed. Costumes have to be acquired or produced and stored. Certain effects and events aimed for by the creators necessitate the development of new technology altogether, as was the case when it was decided that that stop-motion movie Coraline was supposed to be in 3D, leading to the need for smaller cameras that would fit in the small sets. The ever-expanding credit rolls seen after movies give a glimpse of the huge amount of labour needed to create a modern movie.
    This then has effects on the way the narrative itself is written. Writers that produce scripts for audio-visual narratives are bound to a completely new set of restrictions. While a literary narrative could be developed in any way imaginable by the author, now they are not only held to what is technically feasible at the time but also what the budget of any given project can afford and, especially expensive productions intended for a large audience, tastes and aesthetical preferences of the intended audience become much more important.
    So at first sight, the most striking differences between textual and audio-visual narrative are in the restrictions placed on the respective medium and how this then influences the created narrative. Yet while this very much holds true, both for serial narratives and more closed- off stories, there is also a whole new set of possibilities the new mode of presentation offers.n
    The strongest case for this might be the creation of aesthetic continuity, which can be sued to great effect in order to tie the narrative together. Interestingly many of the methods used to create this effect can also be aligned with the economic needs that the increased production-values bring with themselves. To save money on sets, it makes sense to have as many sequences as possible take place in the same location, but at the same time this can also produce a strong feeling of connection and recognition for the audience that might, at a certain point be able to identify a certain serial narrative through location alone, even with all elements of narrative and characters removed. Costumes can be used in a similar sense, creating a sense of familiarity(or easily depicting a break in this) through recurring clothing while at the same time-saving money for the studio.
    Another way to create this effect of recognition is the exploitation of the audio component offered by these new media. One notable example would be the use of opening or ending songs or easily recognisable musical soundbites but this can also be used on a much smaller scale. Even the re-use of a single sound effect, such as the sound of a beam weapon in Mobile Suit Gundam shows can be recognisable and create familiarity within an expert audience.
    This means that while it may be possible to say that all methods to link elements in a serial narrative, such as continuity and connection to characters and recurring elements, are already found in one form or another in literary seriality, the new affordances of audio-visual presentation offer these new media of narrative their own ways of creating these effects, thus giving them a distinct identity next to textual seriality.

  24. 2nd Study Question: Does convergence culture help the serial format or vice-versa?

    I do not believe that convergence culture is solely responsible in aiding serial formats to succeed, neither do I think that seriality is the only source for converging culture. Moreover, I think there is a cooperation between the two concepts that ensures that both are successful.
    Already in Victorian England, serialization of short stories in periodicals such as The Strand Magazine had taken place. Authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle and Rudyard Kipling had their stories published there. The magazine grew the most successful when Doyle’s story The Hound of the Baskervilles was serialized. According to Christoph Lindner’s foreword of the book Serialization in Popular Serialization, serialization in the Victorian era was only effective because printing had become cheaper, public literacy had increased and modern advertising technologies had arisen. Doyle’s stories about the private detective Sherlock Holmes were extremely popular, therefore his readers were devastated when Doyle killed off Sherlock in The Reichenbach Falls. The opinion of the readers was already essential in those times because if the readers did not buy the magazine, there would not be any monetary profit. So solely because of the readers, Doyle brought back the Sherlock Holmes stories. Of course, this is because of economic advantages, but also to fulfill the entertainment thirst of the readership. This is also how the “fans”, the readership was able to mold the content they see. Henry Jenkins’ term “convergence culture” means “where old and new media collide (…) where the power of the media producer and the power of the media consumer interact in unpredictable ways”. But even before new media platforms such as Reddit, Youtube or Wattpad had arisen, people were able to have their opinion heard and make the content go in a certain way. The example of Doyle bringing back “Sherlock Holmes” to life is such an example of an “unpredictable way” because of reader-author dynamics. Yet, the cyclical dissemination of one narrative leads to a deferral of closure and a thirst for more. The reader is addicted.

    So convergence culture drives seriality onwards, but initial seriality may sparks and ignite convergence culture.

  25. The seminar on seriality gave a good overview how seriality developed historically and what the key features of serials are. It was interesting to look at different forms of serials such as podcasts, TV shows, comics etc. and how different adaptations work. We looked at the production of serials for example that the serial format was a good way for authors to receive (regular) income as well as how the audience receives and engages with the serial format. I learned that serials in different formats have things in common, such as being published in installments. The topic of binge-watching was often brought up and it might be interesting to further investigate how the experience of consuming a series changes, when the entire series is already published. How does publishing an entire series on Netflix for example effect publishers and viewers?
    What I learned from the seminar is that seriality also has a lot to do with the audience’s interaction. Especially transmedial content like series like Scam that are published across various platforms seem to actively provoke the audience’s attention, by sending alerts when new content is published in “real time”. Different serial formats can be received very differently, for example podcasts do not require someone to watch or read content, but require an environment that is not too loud so that the listener is not distracted. Each format caters to a different audience or audience in a different situation.

  26. Study Question 3:
    In this seminar, we have examined serialization and seriality from different historical perspectives and with different media platforms. Seriality itself is complex because there are multiple factors that come to play such as production, consumers’ reception, format and so on. Moreover, as time passes and with the rise of convergence culture, seriality transforms and expands with the media form that it occupies, thus, contribute to its development as a mode of representation.
    When it comes to analyzing a serialized work, I have learned to take into account not only its strategy of serialization but also the distinct characteristics of the medium that, then, helps create its own identity. Podcast is a good example to illustrate this point. The way podcast engages with its consumers or invite participation is certainly different from that of the early television sitcom of the 20th century. The former utilizes sound, music, voice to appeal to its audience and encourages participation and feedbacks to its website. The fact that podcast is accessible anytime anywhere means that everyone can participate through internet. On the other hand, the audience participation of early 20th century television sitcom is more direct with a group of people sitting in the studio for the producers of the program to test out their jokes. This type of participation is not for everyone. Or in the case of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, technical advances that allows the integration of videogame-based interactive function into film enables Netflix viewers to affect the outcomes of storyline, which is the first of its kind. Thus, different platforms result in different participatory culture. In addition, the distribution of episodes in podcast platform does not have to follow a fixed broadcasting schedule like that of the television program. Thus the pacing of podcast is unique of its own.
    Moreover, transmedia storytelling is also an interesting aspect of seriality that I have learned from the seminar and is worth looking into. For instance, in the case of reality TV show, alongside with the show being aired on television, there are interviews and talkshow of the cast found on youtube and/or also aired at the same time on television to reveal more information behind the scenes, the feeling and experience of the cast that are not officially included in the show. Reality TV, though is not new, but has survived and expanded worldwide. It comes in different formats, from cooking show, fashion show, challenge show to especially those that capitalizes on the journey to find love, something that is supposed to be personal and private.
    The seminar has tackled various aspects of seriality and serialization and provided many meaningful concepts to be utilized for future studies. Those that are handy in terms of investigating serial textual and visual form, are Habermas’s concept of public sphere; Jenkin’s convergence culture; Stuart Hall’s encoding and decoding and Sean O’ Sullivan’s four terms that describes the transmedial nature of seriality: iteration, multiplicity, momentum and worldbuilding. They are applicable in a lot of research topics in media studies. I personally find them useful for the research of my upcoming termpaper on seriality and real-love reality TV.

  27. The seminar on Seriality helped me understand that seriality is a phenomena that one can find in many different forms of media and that there are aspects to seriality that are media specific as well as some that are typical for a particular media format. Whilst I knew before how seriality might influence the way a text is written (i.e. Cliff-hangers), I was not aware of many other aspects that come with seriality, like the need of sponsors, its adaptability to other media formats and therefore its importance in convergence media. New to me was also the idea that one should take into consideration how a story changes when its media format is changed, i.e. does it make a difference if one reads a newspaper printed or in a digitalised format?
    A concept that was entirely new to me is the idea of convergence culture. Of course, I knew that there are film adaptions to books etc., but I had never before encountered ways of storytelling that depended on more than one medium. The notion that the “whole story” is accessible only when one accesses it on different media, i.e. additional iconic material to podcasts published on the podcasts website, that allows a better and deeper insight into the story, is very interesting as it is a concept rather new to our multimedia age. What I find most fascinating about convergence culture is how it allows the audience to interact and create their own stories. I never before realised how large and creative the fandom culture is and how seriality allows authors and publishers to react to the audiences wishes and to political and social developments.
    Until I did this seminar, I had little theoretical knowledge on how to interpret text published on new media as my studies and interests had focused on literature. This seminar showed me how diverse the uses of modern technologies as television, computers etc. are when it comes to storytelling.
    Since I am almost done with my studies and likely to focus on literature in my Staatsexamen, the seminar might not influence my further studies at university that much. However, I think the Seminar is highly important for my work as a teacher. On one hand, it helped my understand a lot about contemporary usage of media and therefore might give me insight into the students experience with and use of modern technologies and their conceptualisation of storytelling. Furthermore, I think that the seminar will help me when it comes to analysing film, series etc. with my students, as it gave insight into different aspects that have to be taken into account.
    What I would like to do in greater depth is the application of the theoretical background the seminar provided onto an actual series. Furthermore, I would be interested to learn more on how the format of seriality influences the actual text, i.e. do a case study and note what aspects of the story telling are typical for seriality. However, I think that this will happen when we write our essays. As I plan to write my essay on Charles Dickens, most important for my essay will be what we learned about Victorian serials and the printing culture in the Victorian era. Still, I think that what we learned about more modern forms of serialisation (television, podcasts,…) will also be relevant for my essay. As the theory concerned with these can often be applied to different forms of serialisation and as it might be interesting to think about how the serialised novel is different to serialisation on modern media, all other theory will be important to me as well, as long as it is in some way applicable to the serialised novel.

  28. Study Question #3

    This past semester we have examined seriality throughout different time periods and across multiple media channels. Starting with a general definition of popular seriality by Kelleter, it being a category on the basis of which we can observe social and technological transformations since the 19th century (31), to its role in the 19th century publishing industry, and today’s examples of television series, comics, and podcasts – we learned that seriality has influenced the way we produce and consume texts. I appreciated discussing fan fiction and its role for the production of a text, and during further research I have learned that, although fan fiction greatly contributes to the canon of a work, and thus can be considered free labour, the producers are not always happy about those contributions. The relationship between fans and creators of a story is thus not always a harmonic one. Furthermore we gained a valuable insight into things that we now do not even think about, like adverts, the laughing track, cliff hangers, and so on.
    Although we discussed the role of fans and Jenkin’s convergence theory, I would have appreciated an even further look into the ways serial narratives can be told across different media channels. What else is there except for fan fiction? What new technologies are there and do we think that episodes like “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” could be the standard one day?
    Additionally, I missed talking about movies in more depth. We looked at serialized novels, TV shows, comic books, and podcasts, but how has seriality influenced the movie industry and the quality of production? Why are sequels so popular? What is the role of cinemas when it comes to seriality? Furthermore, I would be interested in looking at current examples of serialized novels, although we have briefly mentioned them when talking about convergence culture and seriality, and discussing in what ways they are serialized, other than narrating the story of one character, as is done in the case of detective Sherlock Holmes, for instance. An interesting example would be Stephen King’s canon that links his novels to his greater Multiverse, with different storylines and characters interweaving throughout the years.
    The content of this seminar has already helped me focus on different aspects of, for example, my favourite TV shows. While researching for my term paper, which focuses on the CW series Supernatural, I realized that there are countless angles from which to analyse a TV show. In my example, I am looking at how the creators of the show have employed elements of the road movie genre, to produce a show that has the potential of running on without an end in sight (it spans 15 seasons of approximately 20 episodes each). However, the road element does not only make for a clever way to invite the viewers on an open end journey, but it also establishes a formula that allows for every episode to be a short movie in itself, especially in the first season. Seriality here is thus based on the road element on a broader level, and even further enabled by the countless works of fan fiction, but that could be another essay.

  29. Study Question 3:

    I really liked to examine seriality in a transmedial perspective. It was very helpful to see the historical development, which showed me that seriality is an even more universal concept than I had previously known. The definitions and the theoretical input were helpful. It was also interesting to see so many different examples and media forms and to look at their specific serial aspects as well as their similarities. Since I am not too familiar with traditional literary studies, I had most knowledge about newer media. Therefore, especially the sessions in the beginning provided many new insights to me. I found it very helpful to start with literary and textual forms and establish a link to electronic and new media. I have thus learned how to implement theories and concepts into the analysis of different transmedial formats while respecting their specific characteristics.

    For me personally, the modes of storytelling and the link to convergence culture were the most useful aspects. Storytelling is crucial not only for the economic success of a work, but also for a broader understanding of cultural representations. Convergence culture seems almost as universal as seriality itself. In order to properly analyse and understand modern works of media, those two aspects and their combination seems to be a very useful theoretical instrument. I had technically known this before from the field of media and cultural studies, but the seminar provided a much better understanding about how to transfer the concepts to different examples. Thanks to the different historical and transmedial subjects we talked about, I think most aspects of seriality were mentioned in the seminar. Personally, I would have liked to go a little deeper into the aspect of participation according to the different formats we examined. This is not only important as a part of fandoms and interactive platforms, but user-generated content could be regarded as a topic on its own, often being presented in serial forms. Therefore, it would have been interesting to spend even more time with this topic or to discuss it even closer while looking into the different aspects of the seminar (for example: self-published novels, seriality on social media, memes).

    The seminar has combined some knowledge I already had and brought me new insights and a deeper understanding about some of the concepts discussed. Thus, it merged very well with my course of studies, even though I don’t need to write a term paper. It has shown me that seriality and convergence culture are aspects worth thinking about in the analysis of almost all media formats. Since I am already thinking about a topic for my master thesis, I might very well consider transmedial seriality as one of my possible approaches. I am probably going to look into a phenomenon within new media and internet culture. I think that the understanding about the historical dimension of both seriality and transmediality I gained in the seminar can help me to better understand and examine my topic, especially when it comes tot he specific cultural and historical context. Many of the texts we read will also be worth remembering for my further work, both in the academic sphere and outside.

  30. First of all, I have to say that I completely enjoyed attending this course. It has been one of the best and coolest courses in my whole English studies since the topics we dealt with in the past few weeks were, in most cases, very modern and thus close to our own experience with the main topic of seriality, which also helped to engage freely in discussions without fearing to talk in front of a big group. We were given the chance to choose our own (favourite) serial productions for the presentations, which made everybody seem like an expert being the only one who knows about the topic and teaching interesting facts to the other students. Although it had first been a bit depressing to see so many people knowing so much more about seriality than myself, since I had first thought that I had already had a vast knowledge and understanding of this topic, it was so nice in the end to have learned so much more about different serial products like different TV genres, comics, computer games and how seriality works on the Internet.
    As this summer term is actually my last semester of my English studies, I think I won’t have the chance to use this course for another seminar, but, as I am still one of those students doing the old Lehramt degree, I still have to figure out what I am going to do in the oral of my Staatsexamen, so I will hopefully get the chance to choose seriality as a topic. Especially the aspects of media convergence, transmedia storytelling and participatory culture were very appealing to me, but in general, I would really love to do something with TV series/serials and film, since the link between literature and film studies is sometimes missing in my English studies.
    I would have liked to learn a bit more about remakes in general and how they are dealt with in the world of seriality. This is just a very minor topic and I am not sure whether it would fit in perfectly. It was sometimes mentioned in a few of our discussions, but I would be very interested in learning more about the theory of remakes. What I really enjoyed with a few presentations was the active participation and the practice we were offered with the topics. In this way, we could apply the given theories (the ones from the secondary literature on ILIAS and the ones presented in the talks) to the current ‘serial product’ right after the presentation and thus deepen our understanding and knowledge. Unfortunately, some talks didn’t have a ‘practice part’ afterwards, which is why I would recommend to make it obligatory in case there will be another seminar on seriality in the future.
    Practicing the theories helped me to be early prepared for the upcoming term paper in the summer break. Especially the practice part of my own presentation helped me to figure out what I am going to write my term paper about. The discussion with the rest of the group was very helpful in the way that they offered new ideas that I had not thought about until then. It was very nice that Professor Falkenhayner also participated actively in the discussions and gave hints in which direction one could go concerning the term paper. This is why I would be very interested in doing something with remakes and analyse in which way they deal with localisations as well as globalisations.

  31. This Seminar on Seriality has given me a well-rounded overview of the various aspects that influence serialized formats. Starting with earlier serialized texts such as Victorian periodicals to new media forms such as computer games we have seen that these aspects span decades and are evident not only in a transhistorical but also transmedial perspective. Furthermore, it has been interesting to see the extent of transmedial storytelling. I never really considered the earliest forms of franchising seen in soap operas. Especially interesting was diving into the idea of convergence culture and fan participation even further.

    Jenkins’ idea of Convergence culture and fan participation are also the aspects I would like to focus on in my essay. Looking at the Harry Potter fandom and the current trend of even more fan productions I want to elaborate on Barthes’ idea of “Death of the Author” and the extent to which the Harry Potter fandom is going.

    The applicability to newer media forms and newer media franchises is one of the major benefits I see for my further studies and later job. I believe Seriality can be a very interesting topic to discuss in high school English classes. Students can easily apply their own knowledge and current popular productions of literature and film can be discussed.

  32. What initially attracted me to the seminar, was that seriality is the central research object. It is a concept that is often touched upon when talking about cultural material, but it rarely is the main focus. Since we discussed seriality for what it is, I learned to think about it differently. It made me more conscious of seeing the lines between the medium, the content and the aesthetics of seriality. Because of this I feel as though I can now analyse more precisely how the three function together. I learned that seriality has to be applied differently when using it in textual or in audio-visual content. When we studied these differences, we also got to the core of what constitutes serial narratives, what is the same in every instance.

    I liked that each session focused on a different kind of seriality. It introduced me into genres that I have not been in contact with. Due to the fact that the topics where mostly chosen by the students themselves, their presentation were often lively and passionate. This made it easier for me to follow. I have learned about the aesthetics of comics, podcasts and videogames.

    In addition, I learned about the history of seriality. I especially thought that the text on the public sphere was important for me to change my perspective on seriality. I read this text during my bachelor’s degree but in another context. Drawing a connection between the emergence of people discussing things that are relevant to people generally (newspapers) and seriality made me realise how powerful it can be. Reading about how it started with periodicals and newspapers also made me think about the different functions of seriality and how its popularity is probably going to last since it is so adaptive to various media and material. When discussing the emergence of daily soaps for example, it made me aware of how depending on the medium, seriality is dependent on different things, such as commercials, which ultimately shapes the reception of the material.

    Even though I learned about some aspects of the seminar in my previous studies, such as convergence culture, it was good to revise it as well as expand my knowledge. This is a topic I am really interested in and am thinking of incorporating it into my master’s thesis. A text I found especially useful for writing the seminar paper was Sean O’Sullivan’s “Five Elements of Serial Narrative”. It could work as a helpful and structured guidance for my analysis of the TV show Orange is the New Black. I would also apply the development of seriality to my research, because I think that history can help to understand how seriality works in the 21st century. I can tell in which way serial aesthetics have changed and which practices have been preserved.

    All in all, the seminar encouraged me further to understand the attraction of seriality. It fascinates me how deeply it can affect people and how attached people get to a show or a character. I think the continuity aspect of telling stories also comes much closer to how our everyday lives develop in contrast to completed single pieces of entertainment or art. It also fosters the building of fan communities, which is enhanced by transmedia storytelling. This works extremely well in series because it keeps people even more engaged. I actually cannot think of anything that was not addressed in the seminar that I would like to discuss. Something I would like to think about further is the practice of binge watching and in how far the way a series is produced enables it. This is one of the questions I am intending to explore in my research paper.

  33. This semester I have learnt what the aspects that constitute seriality are and also from an academical point of view. Moreover, I have also learnt about various seriality types I do not know much about, for example podcasts, videogames and multimedial ‘TV’ series. The way this topic was treated in the seminar was very good because it gave us a general overview of the main seriality types that we encounter daily. In addition, it was very useful because now I am more aware of what I actually consume every day.
    It has been a good starting point for further researches because it gave us the tools to do it, namely, we have read several studies made about the topic which include other studies too. Something that I would have liked to talk about as well is seriality in art and music, but they would require entire seminars on their own. In fact, seriality is an incredibly vast topic and it is indeed why I chose this course. Seriality has become very important on different levels in our society. Virtually everything surrounding us is part of a series and other things make us come across seriality, for example: clothes, furniture, appliances, shops, restaurants etc. This is because everybody has understood how economically convenient it is to sell everything as part of a series. There is something psychological about buying something which belongs to a series. You automatically feel the urge to buy the rest of the series, even if you probably do not need it. For example, just recently I have helped a friend to move to her new flat for which she needed a new closet. Yet, instead of buying only the closet she came back with a bed and two night tables as well because they “came with it”. “They match now!” she told me. She got a discount on the closet because she bought the whole set… The same thing happens when watching or reading a series. Sometimes people finish one not because they have liked it in particular, but because they had “started it already”. It happens to me many times. It feels like fulfilling a task instead of leaving it halfway done.
    What interested me the most in this seminar was to see how seriality developed through the decades and what has been changed in them in order to appeal to the audience. Indeed, for my term paper I want to research what has changed in broadcast drama series from the 30s, when they were invented, to today and why. I chose to research broadcast drama series because, being almost a century old, it is easier and more interesting to me to see this development thanks to a wider spectrum of history and societal change. In other seriality types it is not possible yet to do this kind of research. Podcast for example, is a very young genre and therefore it is still forming itself. I will analyse these questions through “The Guiding Light” and “Jane the Virgin”.

  34. Study Question 3:

    The seminar offered a detailed examination of various examples of the serial form from the 19th century periodicals to present-day video games. Even though all these forms follow the same pattern, which characterizes seriality, each of them adds a new aspect to it, thus providing a base for discussions.
    I personally found the evolution of seriality the most interesting aspect of the course, for it shows what a significant role technology plays in the process. As a result of the technological development every serial genre gets closer to creating a sense of reality than the previous ones. For the achievement of this realistic effect, the reader, listener or spectator needs to get involved in the storyline. Hence, media convergence, which is interrelated with modern technologies, is an important factor in empowering the audience. Not only does it provide a chance for feedback and contact with the author, but it also allows fans to take part in the creation of the narrative or make their own one.
    For me, what we learned in the seminar inspired some ideas about my bachelor thesis, which will be on Victorian literature. Therefore, the texts that we read throughout the semester (especially the one on the structural transformation of the public sector) helped me better understand the background in which seriality emerged and the social factors that led to it. Besides, the terms brought up in class, such as Jenkins’ participatory culture and Hall’s encoding and decoding could be applicable for the analysis of any serial genre or of literary texts in general.

  35. Study Question 3

    What I found very interesting was how we were able to have this class discussions after the presentations. Today for instance, we talked about iam.serafina and in the beginning we were focussed more on the negative sides (i.e. the actor having to live with the production team, her being exhausted by having to do work 14-30 days non stop). But then someone raised a counter argument: a similar example of a snapchat series with a girl living during WWII was given. She was posting daily updates and thus educating youngsters about how it was to live during the turmoil of wartime. These class discussions were very helpful to digest the information that I read in the texts and that what was given in the presentation by fellow students.
    Everybody participated and I was able to gain more insight as well as different views of the topics because of the good ideas of other students.
    Today I was particularly struck by the small discussion we had about reality tv and its normalization. One student explained how these new web-series, such as iam.serafina, create confusion because of their novelty. The student compared these series to the release of the Blair Witch Project and how at the beginning, even adults were confused if the movie was “real found footage” or just good acting. But the phenomenon of normalization leads to common comprehension on what is reality and what is “emulated reality”. Reacting to this position another student brought up the “Frankfurt School” that prooves exactly the opposite, namely that normalization implies manipulation. I found these discussion rounds extremely helpful for myself, because it encouraged and taught me how to go about argumentations in my essay.
    There are some theoretical concepts we learned in this seminar, that have guided me throughout the semester. Namely the concept of “convergence culture”, its implying strategy of “deferral of closure” and the concept of “cyclical propagation”, so seriality itself (a concept I have never thought about before). As soon as I understood these terms, I automatically started adding these concepts to my line of thought about other stuff I was learning at university.
    I cannot think of an aspect about seriality that we should have/could have discussed further. I feel like I acquired a lot of tools, so that I can go ahead now and analyze specific series of my interest.
    Similar to the weekly meetings I will try not to forget to incorporate academic articles from researchers. Moreover, I will try to pick out the arguments that are helpful to make my argument and I will try to start my own dialogue with the authors and their ideas. This is really something I learned in this seminar.

  36. Through the deeper analysis of seriality in a transmedial and diachronic fashion, it became possible to see in which ways a single element in the makeup of a narrative, in this case, seriality, can be changed by newly emerging modes of production, cultural surroundings, or wholly new media. By further studying this it became obvious that the shape a narrative takes is influenced by a myriad of different factors that are in constant flux and modify the way a story takes form and develops. It is this interplay between media, production and culture that seemed most interesting to me in the different views of seriality that were offered throughout the seminar. By allowing the use of a wide variety of primary texts that were wildly different not only in genre but also the time of production, intended audience and medium of transmission it was possible to see the great range of variants that the single characteristic of seriality can take in its various incarnations. It was also very refreshing and challenging to feel almost no restrictions whatsoever in the choice of texts to work with. While it is obviously necessary to connect everything that is analysed with the respective field of study, the freedom afforded by this seminar made it possible to see that these attributes and aspects are not restricted to a small sample of texts but are found in a wide area in various forms which then even further influence each other.
    While I am sure that there are specific elements of seriality that have not been addressed directly, I do not feel that any important aspects in regard to the used primary texts were left out and after gaining the understanding of the feature related in this seminar I feel confident that I would be able to apply the understandings of seriality acquired here to new questions I have not yet come across.
    Outside of the specific serial context given in this seminar, I felt it especially useful to get to work with a set of more modern media that are often left out in other courses. This allowed me to consider these in an academic context and discuss my conclusions in a group setting, making it possible to not only compare but also falsify these conclusions. It is also this more complex, academic understanding of newer media and their interaction with each other that I hope to incorporate into my term paper.

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