Derek Johnson

Derek Johnson's picture
  • Associate Professor
  • Media and Cultural Studies
Office Hours:
  • Tuesday 2:30 - 4 PM
Expertise and Activities: 

My research examines the media industries, looking specifically at how production and creativity operate as a site of cultural struggle across television, contemporary film, digital games, comics, and merchandising. I take a "production culture" approach that understands industry not just in economic terms, but also identities, meanings, values, and communities that emerge around media work. One key site of inquiry for me has been "media franchising", where licensing, spin-offs, and global formatting practices create uneasy creative relations and negotiations of unequal power among producers from multiple spaces and historical contexts of production. I have also worked to situate the identity work of media industries, entrepreneurs, and brands in relation to post-feminist and post-racial ideologies. My newest research considers the function of aged, classed, and gendered audiences within and in relation to professional production cultures, looking at the production of children's popular culture and examining moments of contact between adult producers and consumers of that cultural product. With my research and teaching extending to digital games, I am also affiliated with the Games, Learning, and Society research group on campus.


  • Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2009
  • M.A. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2006
  • B.A. University of Southern California, 2001


  • Faculty Fellow , Academy of Television Arts & Sciences , 2011
  • Junior Faculty Summer Research Fellowship , University of North Texas , 2010
  • Research Initiation Grant , University of North Texas , 2009
  • University Dissertation Fellowship , University of Wisconsin-Madison , 2008


  • 2014. ""May the Force be with Katie": Pink Media Franchising and the Post-Feminist Politics of HerUniverse." Feminist Media Studies , Forthcoming .
  • 2014. "Figuring Identity: Media Licensing and the Racialization of LEGO Bodies." International Journal of Cultural Studies , 17.4: 307-325 .
  • 2012. "Cinematic Destiny: Marvel Studios and the Trade Stories of Industrial Convergence." Cinema Journal , 52.1 (Fall) .
  • 2011. "Devaluing and Revaluing Seriality: The Gendered Discourses of Media Franchising." Media, Culture & Society , 33.7 (October): 1077-1094 .
  • 2009. "StarCraft Fan Craft: Game Mods, Ownership and Totally Incomplete Conversions." The Velvet Light Trap , 64 (Fall): 50-63 .
  • 2008. "A Knight of the Realm vs. the Master of Magnetism: Sexuality, Stardom, and Character Branding." Popular Communication , 6.4 (October): 214-230 .
  • 2007. "Inviting Audiences In: The Spatial Reorganization of Production and Consumption in 'TVIII'." New Review of Film and Television Studies , 5.1 (April): 61-80 .


  • 2013. Media Franchising: Creative License and Collaboration in the Culture Industries. New York: New York University Press .
  • 2013. A Companion to Media Authorship (co-edited with Jonathan Gray). Malden: Wiley-Blackwell .
  • 2014. Making Media Work: Cultures of Management in the Entertainment Industries (co-edited with Avi Santo and Derek Kompare). New York: New York University Press .


  • 2014. "Introduction – Discourses, Dispositions, Tactics: Reconceiving Management in Critical Media Industry Studies (with Derek Kompare and Avi Santo)." Making Media Work: Culture of Management in the Entertainment Industries , Derek Johnson, Derek Kompare, and Avi Santo New York: New York University Press , 1-21 .
  • 2014. "Authorship Up for Grabs: Decentralized Labor, Licensing, and the Management of Collaborative Creativity." Wired TV: Laboring Over an Interactive Future , Denise Mann New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press , 32-52 .
  • 2013. "Participation is Magic: Collaboration, Authorial Legitimacy, and the Author Function"." A Companion to Media Authorship , Derek Johnson and Jonathan Gray Malden: Wiley-Blackwell .
  • 2013. "Going Backstage: Network Heritage, Industrial Identities, and Reiterated Mediation of Saturday Night Live’s Work Worlds." Saturday Night Live and American Television , Ron Becker, Nick Marx, and Matt Sienkiewicz Bloomington: Indiana University Press , 130-158 .
  • 2013. "Introduction: The Problem of Media Authorship (with Jonathan Gray)." A Companion to Media Authorship , Jonathan Gray and Derek Johnson Malden: Wiley-Blackwell Press , 1-19 .
  • 2009. "Franchise Histories: Marvel, X-Men, and the Negotiated Process of Expansion." Convergence Media History , Janet Staiger and Sabine Hake London: Routledge , 14-23 .
  • 2008. "The Fictional Institutions of Lost: World Building, Reality, and the Economic Possibilities of Narrative Divergence." Reading Lost , Roberta Pearson London: I.B. Tauris , 29-52 .
  • 2007. "Will the Real Wolverine Please Stand Up?: Marvel's Mutation from Monthlies to Movies." Film and Comic Books , Ian Gordon, Mark Jancovich, and Matthw McAllister Jackson: University Press of Mississippi , 285-300 .
  • 2007. "Fan-tagonism: Factions, Institutions, and Constitutive Hegemonies of Fandom." Fandom: Identities and Communities in Mediated Culture , Jonathan Gray, C. Lee Harrington, and Cornel Sandvoss New York: New York University Press , 285-300 .


  • CA 351 - Introduction to Television
  • CA 540 - Television Genres (Science FIction)
  • CA 540 - Television Genres (Superhero TV and Cultural Power)
  • CA 547 - Digital Game Cultures
  • CA 557 - Contemporary Media Industries
  • CA 613 - Franchising in the Media Industries
  • CA 950 - Production Cultures
  • CA 950 - Cultural Studies of Kids' Media
  • CA 950 - Applying Cultural Theory
  • CA 950 - Culture Industries
Curriculum Vitae: