The Journal of e-Media Studies is a blind peer-reviewed, on-line journal dedicated to the scholarly study of the history and theory of electronic media, especially Television and New Media. It is an inter-disciplinary journal, with an Editorial Board that is chiefly grounded in the methodologies of the field of Film and Television Studies. We welcome submissions across the fields and methodologies that study media and media history.
- Volume 2, Issue 1 (2009)
- Hide Abstracts
About This Issue
by Mark Williams
by Catherine Coker
This essay discusses the hyper-mediation of text through a discussion of what a "book" is and means primarily through an analysis of the popular Kindle ereader. The book and text are also discussed from an evolutionary and revolutionary perspective as depicted in a variety of new and old media, touching on how the death of the book has been heralded for some five hundred years.
by Natalie Edwards
Since the mid-1990s, a discernible increase has occurred in both the number and the range of gay, lesbian and queer representations on British terrestrial television. Taking Britain's historically minority-oriented Channel 4 as its focus, this essay examines a few of these representations as they appear within the channel's high-profile, prime-time and/or "flagship" programming, and specifically within Queer as Folk (1999), Sugar Rush (2005) and Skins (2007). It aims to situate these and the other gay, lesbian and queer themed shows produced by Channel 4 in the last two decades within the cultural, political and industrial contexts out of which they emerged, through engagement with specific broadcasting industry and government policy documents, and through British media coverage. Utilizing textual analysis and close examination of these reports and documents, the essay attempts to draw correlations between the specific modes of gay, lesbian and queer visibility offered by Channel 4's programming and the socio-political climate of the UK in the 1990s and 2000s, and ultimately seeks to determine why it was that Channel 4 (and indeed the British broadcasting industry more generally) have recently deemed certain kinds of queerness commercially viable, and others undesirable.
by Julie Levin Russo
This essay reviews some of the literature that focuses specifically on self-reflexive television (or television as self-reflexive), a formal device that explicitly thematizes television and its border wars with the real. It asks how critics can take into account the rigorous recuperative ability of capitalism without simply slipping into a nostalgic privileging of stable distinctions between reality and entertainment, fact and fiction, outside and inside. The author applies this theoretical landscape to a close reading of a self-reflexive episode of The West Wing -- "Access," which takes the form of a fictional documentary about C.J. Cregg and her role as Press Secretary -- considering the textual, spectatorial, and economic operations in evidence. The essay explores how key problematics function in this specific case, but also demonstrates a broader intellectual approach that leaves space for complexities and contradictions. Ultimately, the essay argues that, while it is important to hold in view the complicity of self-reflexivity with consumer capitalism, the multiple subjectivities and realities of television's boundary crossings render this alliance far from simple or totalizing. What's evident in "Access" is that self-reflexive television (and, perhaps, television overall) is not intended to be mistaken for anything but a self-contained fiction, a simulacrum, a gimmick; but, at the same time, it transgresses these categories, ruptures the screen, seeps out of the television set, allows the spectator to pass into it -- in ways that are no less "real."
Two Versions of the Victim: Uncovering Contradictions in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Through Textual Analysis
by Elke Weissmann
The article investigates the role of the victim in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. It argues that the genre of forensic science drama to which the series belongs gives greater emphasis on the victim than the perpetrator in the investigation of and in its narratives about crime. However, this does not mean that the victim is more empowered to tell his or her story of what happened. Rather, the investigators appear as the powerful agents who can "read" the body of victims and uncover the truth. Focusing on the male victims of the first four seasons of the original series, the article highlights how most of the time victims are presented as powerless -- as silent, passive and penetrate-able -- even though the series continues to draw attention to the idea that the holder of the truth is the victim. This polysemic construction which occurs on two different levels of the text allows for the text to be read as conservative, as underlining the power of the investigators to solve the problem of crime rather than a text that is essentially about victims.
by Kumkum Sangari
Catastrophe and Television in the Wake of Katrina: Working through the shift in the ideological parameters of the television form from conjunction to flow, as suggested in Raymond Williams' essays, the author argues that conjunction is still available and can denaturalize the flow form as a determinate paradigm of narrative incoherence and "full" subsumption. The argument of the essay traverses the formal, spatial and regional coordinates of the flow form, especially in disaster reportage on BBC World and the Indian media, which recompose imperial "worlds" and recast resistant gendered agencies. The essay proposes that flow can congeal into what the author terms "viewing configurations," and that within the regime of neoliberal capitalism conjunction can be rethought in the registers of global connection and a layering of gendered temporalities, as both a residual and an emergent form.
by Steve Classen
Catastrophe and Television in the Wake of Katrina: This essay offers a meta-critique of the televised cable news coverage of Hurricane Katrina, examining published evaluations of the reporting in the earliest hours of the disaster, with a particular focus on the moments in which normative network news practices and rituals "broke down." The critics of the Katrina coverage reiterate tensions between conflicting journalistic epistemologies, most clearly manifest in disagreements between reporters "on location" and network anchors in distant studios. In these public arguments, discourses of journalistic authority are tangibly challenged and the efficiencies of professionalized knowledge resisted by "senses of place."
by Joy Fuqua
Catastrophe and Television in the Wake of Katrina: This article explores the ways that national mainstream news media serve as an authenticating and legitimating discursive frame that places significant limitations on how local news and community-based video can represent events. Taking the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as its case study, the article argues that discourses of "elsewhere-ism" have tended to negate the possibility for local media to enact necessary critiques of dominant ideological narratives that have the effect of re-positioning New Orleans as a resolved national disaster.
by Scott Bukatman
This wide-ranging conversation between scholars Scott Bukatman (author of Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction, and Matters of Gravity: Special Effects and Supermen in the 20th Century) and Vivian Sobchack (author of Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film, The Address of the Eye, and Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture) is anchored in their agreement that spectatorial experience and fascination are as central to academic research and writing as are the screen texts themselves. Bukatman and Sobchack discuss the expansion of screen and media studies and its objects, the pleasures of interdisciplinarity, the accomplishments of phenomenological method, and the formal and existential effects of digital cinema. They also touch on genres such as the horror film and the historical epic. Throughout, they also call for a more vital academic writing style in which affect and carnality, playfulness as well as sobriety, do not obscure meaning but inform and express it.
by Lori Landay
The "virtual kino-eye" of the synthetic camera in a virtual world like Second Life not only realizes the kinetic possibilities imagined by Dziga Vertov for making "machinima" (digital video captured in a virtual world or 3-d game environment), but also is one of the ways through which virtual subjectivity is constructed. Virtual subjectivity is a mode of first-person experience in a virtual world that is founded on a fusion of visual and metaphoric point of view, shaped through "self-design" of the avatar and environment, reinforced and extended through social interaction, known through the avatar body's actions and movements in virtual space and place, and enacted through virtual agency.