How to Watch Television edited by Ethan Thompson and Jason Mittell
While I tell people that I didn’t start watching television “properly” until I was fifteen, it’s a bit of shorthand. It’s not that we didn’t watch television in my house growing up. My mother, a committed Anglophile of a Frenchwoman, watched (and continues to watch) Masterpiece Theater on a regular basis, and I, obviously, had both the time and access to watch I Love the 80s and imprint upon eighties pop culture like a duckling. Otherwise, my parents just didn’t watch primetime television shows, which meant that I was simply never exposed to even the concept. By the time Heroes rolled around and my pop culture junkie destiny was realized, all of my critical background, both taught and absorbed, was in literature. Since then, I’ve been working to expand my critical eye into other mediums. I’ve been paying specific attention to film (hello, Story of Film!) and comics (hello, Understanding Comics!), but seeing How to Watch Television on NetGalley reminded me that it was high time to officially tackle television.
Especially with the five shows I’ll be juggling this season.
It’s the last Sunday of the year, so you know what that means. Either I’m getting stingier or this year hasn’t been the best reading year for me—while last year’s year in review post was agonizing to curate, I did this year’s in a few hours. Hopefully, 2013 will ring in a higher batting average for my reading. But it’s not that I haven’t enjoyed my reading this year; I definitely have, especially my nonfiction reading—I mean, I discovered Tom Wolfe this year, so that is a definite plus. As ever, this list is culled from what I read in 2012, not what was released in 2012 (although I read more recent titles this year than in past years).
So I’ve been hanging out with a baby recently; my nephew Xavier. Firstly, it’s kind of soothing to spend out with a content baby. Xa (pronounced “Za”; it’s French) is, obviously, still percolating into a human proper, and it’s fascinating to see him quietly just process the unfamiliar world around him. Soon—all too soon, in fact—Xa will be walking, talking, and, of most interest to me, the only fan and geek in the family, consuming media. As Salon.com is hosting Trust Me On This, a series of posts where fathers discuss what they want to pass down to their sometimes resistant children, I thought Father’s Day was a perfect opportunity to talk about passing this particular torch.
Textual Poachers by Henry Jenkins
After finishing my last read, I looked at my stack of library books, sighed, and declared, “Bring me Jenkins!”. Nothing perks me up or fascinates me like media studies and particularly Henry Jenkins’ even-handed writings on the subject, and I know it’s time for me to start focusing on the books I can only get at my college library. (Oh, I don’t want to think about graduating. I’m ready and not ready, you know?) So I ventured into the stacks and came out clutching Textual Poachers, apparently the first person to check it out since 1996.
Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers by Henry Jenkins
(This is one of my “lost reviews”—reviews I wrote and finished but, somehow, never posted to the blog! I read this last May. Enjoy!)
Let me just say this upfront—this book made me want to be a better fan, to the extent that I finally joined TheOneRing.Net’s forums and decided to actually make a conscious effort to get through Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (I like it just fine, but it’s just… it’s just not clicking like Doctor Who does, you know?) I stumbled across Henry Jenkins through his discussions on the implications of fanvids and was blown away by the fact that Media Studies actually studies fandom and takes it seriously in an academic context. You can imagine the sense of immense validation I felt. Alas, because his work is academic, his books are harder to find through public libraries—but PINES did kick up Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers, which I gleefully put on hold.