Contemporary American TV Series: Between Fiction, Fact and the Real. Universite Paris Diderot, France, May 6-7, 2011
Contemporary American TV Series: Between Fiction, Fact and the Real
International conference, Université Paris-Diderot, May 6-7, 2011
Ever since the middle of the 1990s, the American TV series has known what has been depicted as a new "Golden Age" – a term justified by the excellent quality of numerous productions, by the spectacular, international interest they have aroused (also related with the new viewing modes – DVD, streaming, VOD), and by a new critical respect for the form itself. This conference will be devoted to the link that these works establish between fiction and reality. Why, for instance, do some realities seem more adapted to the serial form (medical, police or judicial work for instance)? This specific angle will also allow participants to analyze the ideology underlying those fictions: what function does serial representation serve when it tackles a specific (social, political, economic) aspect of reality at a specific time? (such as the representation of the American administration in The West Wing, or the denunciation of deficient institutions in The Wire).
Aesthetic approaches can focus on the strategies adopted to represent reality. Some series pretend to be "realistic", a term that needs debating, for instance when events supposedly occur "in real time" (24), when camerawork tries to mimic documentary style (for example the use of handheld camera in Californication), or when the representation ostentatiously refuses prettification or softening (as with the crude bodily detail in Nip/Tuck). Others, on the contrary, strive to stylize or caricature the real (Desperate Housewives), or choose to represent deliberately fantasized worlds (Battlestar Galactica, True Blood); some also propose a more or less "authentic" representation of worlds that no longer exist, raising the issue of "historical accuracy" (Deadwood, Mad Men or Rome).
This link between fiction and reality can also relate to the way these series get inscribed in the reality of the spectators themselves. The process of identification and appropriation seems to have reached an unprecedented level in the case of the contemporary series. Spectators prolong the experience of "their" series on the internet, discussing them, proposing audiovisual re-creations, or simply consuming by-products. Finally, series shape the way we perceive our reality. Of course, the construction of personal identity has always been linked to the fictional works that an individual was exposed to, but we could focus on the specific impact of the television series on the spectator, who finds in them both the hypnotic seduction of cinema and the pleasure of narrative flow and duration more generally associated to the literary novel.
Proposals (500 words) and a brief biographical presentation should be sent before October 1st, 2010 to both