Media and Cultural Studies
6146 Vilas Hall
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) textual theory, criticism, and analysis, (2) contemporary television studies, (3) new media extensions of and convergence with television and film, (4) satire, comedy, parody, and political entertainment, (5) international media consumption, and (6) qualitative audience studies, fandom, dislike, and anti-fandom.
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 (forthcoming) 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 forthcoming 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. Moving forward, meanwhile, I want to make better sense of the streaming television era, and especially of how television texts and audiences are changing (or not) in this era.
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 co-edited Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture for five years, am now Chief Editor of The International Journal of Cultural Studies, and sit on the editorial boards of Critical Studies in Media Communication, Television and New Media, Communication and the Public, and Communication, Culture, and Critique, was Chair of the Popular Communication Division of the International Communication Association, and am editor, with Aswin Punathambekar and Adrienne Shaw, of NYU Press’ Critical Cultural Communication book series. I also recently finished a six year term on the Board of Jurors for the Peabody Awards.
- 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
- 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, Graduate School, 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
- “Reviving Audience Studies.” Critical Studies in Media Communication, 34.1 (2017), 79-83.
- “Hidden: Studying Media Dislike and its Meaning.” International Journal of Cultural Studies, 19.4 (2016): 357-72.
- “Scales of Cultural Influence: Malawian Consumption of Foreign Media,” Media, Culture and Society 36.7 (2014): 982-97.
- “Mobility Through Piracy, Or How Steven Seagal Got to Malawi.” Popular Communication, 9.2 (2011): 99-113.
- “Entertainment Studies and Media/Cultural/Communication/Etc. Studies.” Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 24.6 (2010): 811-17.
- “Television Pre-Views and the Meaning of Hype.” International Journal of Cultural Studies, 11.1 (2008): 33-49.
- “Imagining America: The Simpsons Go Global.” Popular Communication, 5.2 (2007): 129-48.
- “Television Teaching: Parody, The Simpsons, and Media Literacy Education.” Critical Studies in Media Communication, 22.3 (2005): 223-38.
- “New Audiences, New Textualities: Anti-Fans and Non-Fans.” International Journal of Cultural Studies, 6.1 (2003): 64-81.
- Dislike-Minded: Media, Audiences, and the Dynamics of Taste. New York: NYU Press, 2021 (forthcoming).
- Television Goes to the Movies (with Derek Johnson). New York: Routledge, 2021 (forthcoming)
- Television Studies (with Amanda Lotz). London: Polity Press, 2018 (first edition 2012).
- Keywords for Media Studies. New York: NYU Press, 2017.
- Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated Era. New York: NYU Press, 2017 (first edition 2007).
- A Companion to Media Authorship. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.
- Breaking Boundaries in Political Entertainment Studies. Los Angeles: Annenberg Press, 2013.
- Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts. New York: NYU Press, 2010.
- Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era. New York: NYU Press, 2009.
- Television Entertainment. New York: Routledge, 2008.
- Battleground: The Media. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2008.
- Watching with The Simpsons: Television, Parody, and Intertextuality. New York: Routledge, 2006.
Selected Recent Chapters
- “‘Always There Are Two’: Repetition, Originality, and The Force Awakens.” Disney’s Star Wars: Forces of Production and Promotion, eds William Proctor and Richard McCulloch. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2019.
- “The Amazing Race: Global Othering.” How to Watch TV second edition, eds Ethan Thompson and Jason Mittell. New York: NYU Press, 2020.
- “Family Sitcoms’ Political Front,” with Taylor Cole Miller. Popular Culture and the Civic Imagination: Case Studies of Creative Social Change, eds Henry Jenkins, Sangita Shresthova, and Gabriel Peters-Lazaro. New York, NYU Press, 2020.
- “How Do I Hate Thee? Let Me Count the Ways.” Anti-Fandom: Dislike and Hate in the Digital Age, ed. Melissa Click. New York: NYU Press, 2019.
- “Off-Screen Educational Television and the Social Value of Children’s Paratexts.” Television History, The Peabody Archive, and Cultural Memory, eds Ethan Thompson, Jeffrey P. Jones, and Lucas Hatlen. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2019.
- “Disney Junior: Imagining Industrial Intertextuality,” with Kyra Hunting. From Networks to Netflix: A Guide to Changing Channels. New York: Routledge, 2018.
- “Intertexts and Paratexts.” The Craft of Media Criticism: Critical Media Studies in Practice, eds Michael Kackman and Mary Celeste Kearney. New York: Routledge, 2018.
- “The Politics of Paratextual Ephemeralia.” The Politics of Ephemeral Digital Media: Permanence and Obsolescence in Paratexts, eds Sara Pesce and Paolo Noto. New York: Routledge, 2016.
- “In the Game: The Creative and Textual Constraints of Licensed Videogames.” Wired TV: Laboring Over an Interactive Future, ed. Denise Mann. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2014.
- “When is the Author?” A Companion to Media Authorship, eds Jonathan Gray and Derek Johnson. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.
- “Fan Cultures and Fan Communities” (with Kristina Busse). The Handbook of Media Audiences, Virginia Nightingale. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
- “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.
- “Telling Time: Serial Television’s Experiences of Time,” Film and History Association of Australia and New Zealand, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, December 04, 2012.
- “Malawian Media Circulation and Consumption,” MIT Communications Forum, MIT, Cambridge, MA, April 23, 2009.
- 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 950 – Textuality: Beyond the Screen
- CA 950 – Audiences, Voice, and Identity
- CA 950 – Cultural Theory