CFP “Watching Television Series, Writing Criticism”,
ed. Sérgio Dias Branco and Elliott Logan

28.03.2017

This thematic dossier focuses on the critical appreciation of particular television series, while also examining the distinctive practice of writing television criticism. Our understanding of television criticism echoes that of Alex Clayton and Andrew Klevan in their edited volume The Language and Style of Film Criticism (Routledge, 2011). It is a form of writing that addresses television series “as potential achievements and wishes to convey their distinctiveness and quality (or lack of it)” (Clayton and Klevan 1). The significance of criticism stems from the way it “deepens our interest in individual [series], reveals new meanings and perspectives, expands our sense of the medium, confronts our assumptions about value, and sharpens our capacity to discriminate” (Clayton and Klevan 1, emphasis in original).

The last ten years have seen a welcome and growing direction of scholarly interest towards the aesthetic dimensions of television fiction and the particular issues of judgement and value they raise — see, for example, Jason Jacobs and Steven Peacock’s volume Television Aesthetics and Style (Bloomsbury, 2013). Nevertheless, the practice of detailed stylistic criticism remains relatively rare in television studies; also underexplored are the unique challenges of writing detailed criticism in response to television series. Those challenges pertain to both the temporal expansiveness of series, and the need to articulate values in television fiction that may not have straightforward counterparts in traditions of film, literature, or fine art criticism. The dossier will add to the existing body of detailed writing on television series, while deepening our understanding of its distinctive challenges and values.

Particular topics of interest may include:

• the opportunities for expressive significance afforded by the episodic and/or serial structures of television series;
• the distinctiveness of time as a dimension of television series and its implications for criticism;
• how to grapple with the clashes between the conditions and structure of television form and criteria of judgement derived from other art forms;
• how pieces of criticism written in response to other arts (such as film, literature, drama, or painting) may help to shed an appreciative light on television series;
• the achievements of particular television critics and how they might be brought to bear on certain programs.

A principle underpinning the dossier is that useful theories of criticism emerge through its practice in response to particular works of art. We thus invite contributions that address the issues above through writing that pays close attention to the detail of individual series and that considers how to articulate the significance and value to be found in them.

The deadline for submitting completed papers is June 30, 2018. All articles will undergo a selection process followed by double blind peer-review. Before submitting your article, please read the journal’s Section Policies and the Authors’ Guidelines.

SÉRGIO DIAS BRANCO is Assistant Professor of Film Studies at the University of Coimbra, where he directs the MA in Art Studies and coordinates LIPA (Laboratory for Investigating and Practicing Art). He holds a MA and a PhD in Film Studies from the University of Kent. He is Integrated Researcher at Nova Institute of Philosophy (IFILNOVA), co-edits two journals, Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image and Conversations: The Journal of Cavellian Studies and is the author of Por Dentro das Imagens: Obras de Cinema, Ideias do Cinema [Within Images: Film Works, Cinema Ideas] (Documenta, 2016). He is a member of the scientific committee of SERIES: International Journal of TV Serial Narratives.

ELLIOTT LOGAN is a PhD candidate in the School of Communication and Arts at the University of Queensland. He is the author of “Breaking Bad” and Dignity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), together with a number of articles and book chapters on the aesthetics and criticism of serial television drama, published in journals including Critical Studies in Television and Screen. He is associate editor of SERIES: International Journal of TV Serial Narratives.