Jonathan Gray

Media and Cultural Studies




6146 Vilas Hall

Professor Jonathan Gray

Current and Future Projects

  • Streaming television
  • Media dislike
  • Contemporary television comedy

Expertise and Activities

My work examines how media entertainment and its audiences interact, and examines how and where value and meaning are created. More specifically, my research projects fall into one or more of the following areas: (1) contemporary television studies, (2) qualitative audience studies, (3) textual theory, criticism, and analysis, (4) new media extensions of and convergence with television and film, (5) satire, comedy, parody, and political entertainment, and (6) international media consumption.

My first book, Watching with The Simpsons: Television, Parody, and Intertextuality, used The Simpsons to examine how audiences consume with a whole barrage of other images and structures learned from other items of media. This interest in how meaning and impact are constructed outside of the film or show itself extended to Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts, about the vast universe of paratextual or “peripheral” items that surround all films and shows – such as trailers, bonus materials, licensed games, fan creations, reviews, and so forth. Having established how much audience reaction occurs outside and around an item of media itself, I then grew interested in a particular type of audience member – engaged dislikers – and in the legitimacy and frequent importance of their responses to media, even when they may have only consumed a little. While audience studies have told us much about fans, we still know comparatively little about annoyed, resentful, coerced, and belabored consumption, and my most recent solo-authored book, Dislike-Minded: Media, Audiences, and the Dynamics of Taste, draws from over 200 qualitative interviews to say more about what it means to really dislike something.

Throughout my career to date, I’ve shown particular interest in what television is as a cultural entity, and in how we study it. Television Entertainment introduces the study of television through various thematic lenses, and grew out of my continuing interest in how television is changing as a textual, industrial, and experiential entity. Television Studies (and its second edition), written with Amanda D. Lotz, is about television and television studies as a field of study. My recent book Television Goes to the Movies, written with Derek Johnson, considers zones of contact and interaction between television and film, and how those zones are surrounded discursively by boundary maintenance intent on ensuring each medium stays in its own allotted cultural space.

Currently, I’m working on three key projects, one exploring audiences in the streaming era, a second exploring how television texts and genres (especially comedy) are changing in this era, and a third situating the role of textual analysis in media studies today.

I have also co-edited seven collections: Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World (and its second edition), about fandom; Battleground: The Media, a two-volume encyclopedia of hot-button issues in the study of media; Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era and Breaking Boundaries in Political Entertainment Studies, both about satirical programming on television; A Companion to Media Authorship, which aims to trouble established notions of what the author is; and Keywords for Media Studies, a collection of 65 short essays defining some of the field’s most important terms. I have no books on global media studies, but as a transnational being myself – having grown up in five countries – I’ve always been fascinated by, advised projects on, and have taught global media too.

I formerly co-edited Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture for five years, was Chair of the Popular Communication Division of the International Communication Association, and sat on the Board of Jurors for the George Foster Peabody Awards. I am now Chief Editor of The International Journal of Cultural Studies, co-editor, with Aswin Punathambekar and Adrienne Shaw, of NYU Press’ Critical Cultural Communication book series, and I was recently nominated as an International Communication Association Fellow.


  • Ph.D. Goldsmiths College, University of London, 2003
  • M.A. Goldsmiths College, University of London, 2000
  • M.A. University of Leeds, 1997
  • B.A. University of British Columbia, 1996


  • Hamel Family Distinguished Chair in Communication Arts
  • Kellett Mid-Career Faculty Fellowship, University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2022
  • International Communication Association Fellow, 2022
  • Vilas Mid-Career Investigator’s Award, Graduate School, University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2016
  • Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2015
  • H. I. Romnes Faculty Fellowship, University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2011
  • Television Entertainment selected as a Top Academic Title of the Year, Choice Magazine, 2008
  • Top Paper in Popular Communication Division, International Communication Association, 2007 & 2003
  • Unsung Hero Commendation, Undergraduate Teaching Experience Survey, University of California, Berkeley, 2005

Home Page

Selected Articles


Selected Recent Chapters

Selected Lectures/Keynotes

  • “Dislike-Minded: Media, Audiences, and the Dynamics of Taste,” National University of Singapore, February 27, 2023; Curtin University, Australia, February 22, 2023; University of Sydney, Australia, February 21, 2023
  • “Touching a Nerve, Gently: Researching Media Dislike and Disappointment,” Leibiz University Hannover, July 8, 2022
  • “Dislike: ‘Hate’ and Loathing in Media Audiences,” Chinese University of Hong Kong, August 23, 2019.
  • “Text To Be Confirmed,” Paratextual Media and Memory Symposium, University of Warwick, Warwick, UK, July 4, 2016.
  • “Swipe for More: Satire, Play, and Citizenship on the Move,” Body, Lived Space, and Mobile Media, Penn Wharton China Center, Beijing, China, June 18, 2016.
  • “Cheap, Quick, Crude, and Important: Limited Animation, Satire, and Kids,” Full or Limited? The “Quality” of Animation on TV, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris, France, November 06, 2014.
  • “Paratextual Politics and Power,” Media Mutations — Ephemeral Media: Time, Persistence and Transience in Contemporary Screen Culture, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy, May 20, 2013.


  • CA 250 – Survey of Contemporary Media
  • CA 448 – Media and National Identity
  • CA 451 – Television Criticism
  • CA 458 – Global Media Cultures
  • CA 540 – Television Comedy
  • CA 608 – Adaptations and Continuations
  • CA 608 – Media Audience Cultures
  • CA 950 – Textuality: Beyond the Screen
  • CA 950 – Audiences, Voice, and Identity
  • CA 950 – Cultural Theory

Curriculum Vitae