Serialized Storytelling and Soap Opera - PCA 2020
Soap Operas, a mainstay of popular culture in the US and internationally, are grounded in the serialized nature of their storytelling. While many traditional and long-running network soap operas have declined in viewership or left the airwaves in recent years, serialized storytelling is alive and well in everything from reality television to HBO franchises to primetime and cable series. Video game franchises, webisodes, sports and sports entertainment and advertising campaigns and now even politics and political journalism have harnessed the power and popularity of the serialized form to build and sustain audiences in our increasingly fractured media landscape. We welcome submissions that address “traditional” soap operas as well as other serialized narratives that share this unique and important structure. Shows need not be currently in production to be relevant to our area and serialization may be studied as a trope across scripted, non-scripted, fictional or non-fictional media texts.
Possible areas of investigation include:
* How seriality has been used historically in traditional soaps, those currently on the air in the US (Days of Our Lives, Young and the Restless, Bold and the Beautiful, General Hospital) and legacy soaps that are no longer being produced but made substantial contributions to television history (Guiding Light, As the World Turns, All My Children, One Life to Live, Ryan’s Hope, Dark Shadows, Edge of Night, Search for Tomorrow, Port Charles, Search for Tomorrow, Another World… etc.)
* How internationalized forms such as the telenovela have grown in popularity and viewership across national boundaries; studies of these shows within their cultural context are also encouraged.
* Serialized narrative as utilized by contemporary storytellers in current network, cable, payTV and web series (Westworld, Game of Thrones, Masters of Sex, Grey’s Anatomy, Stranger Things, Walking Dead, Homeland.)
* How serial narratives in franchises and adaptations manage character arcs and storylines once they have exhausted the original creator’s source material (Handmaid’s Tale, Orange in the New Black, Avengers, other film franchises adapted from comics);
* How serality is harnessed in the creation of episodic series based on real events and real people (American Crime Story, The Crown, Making a Murderer.)
* How media companies are managing the intellectual property of their legacy soap brands through off-network partnerships with web
“broadcasters” and new innovations in the distribution of archival video libraries direct to interested consumers.
* Fandom and the serialized form – social media and online community building and commentary around serialized narratives and shows.
In acknowledgement of this year’s conference location as a birthplace of American democracy, the SO&SS Area is interested in fielding a panel or panel(s) on the use of seriality and the genre characteristics of soap opera in both news coverage of the sitting administration and in the press/communications strategies of this administration. Submissions for these panels could include/address:
* Consideration of the use of Twitter by the sitting president to create characters/narrative arcs and “stay tuned” behaviors around government activities and policy decisions.
* Press briefings as performance space of a new form of soap opera/policity and diplomatic initiatives (North Korean meeting with Jong-Un) as a serialized pseudo-event.
* Co-opting of traditional serialized/soap opera genre markers: the cliff hanger, the stock characters of villain, interloper, hero, by news commentary shows on MSNBC, CNN and FOX to encourage viewership and further meld the journalism of affirmation/reality tv and soap opera into a new televisual infotainment form.
* Other investigations touching upon these issues which become relevant in the months after the finalization of the CFP.
All perspectives are welcome, including interdisciplinary examinations of seriality as a narrative form and considerations of its impact and usage across multiple forms of discourse from interpersonal to social and mass mediated.