The Future in/of Television, NeMLA 2015, 9/30/14; 4/30-5/3/15

full name / name of organization: 
Lisa Perdigao / Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) Convention
April 30-May 3, 2015
Toronto, Canada

"The Future in/of Television"

While science fiction television series have presented fantastic future worlds since the 1940s, recent contemporary television series represent a future that is not entirely speculative. Television is following the recent trend in dystopian novels and films. Series such as Doctor Who, Fringe, Revolution, Almost Human, The Tomorrow People, and The 100 return to familiar concepts and landscapes envisioned in earlier works but with a difference. Advances in television technologies, the platform of storytelling, have significantly altered how we view television and our relationship to it.

Jason Mittell writes, "the roles of institutional practices to shape how a medium is used, and cultural circulation to shape how people think about the medium, are powerful factors that will continue to matter if we are to understand television's present and future" (436). Television has undergone significant changes in the transitions between the classic network era, the multi-channel era, and, most recently, the convergence era (Mittell 10-11). Cable programming, DVDs, DVRs, and streaming are just some of the technologies that have altered the viewers' experience of watching television. These changes to the medium have influenced the ways that stories are told. Where the structure of a television series' narrative is traditionally shaped by the conventions of "seasons"—with breaks in the viewing cycle—viewing series on DVD, DVR, and Netflix offer immediacy to the viewers, encouraging the phenomenon of "binge-watching" to consume entire seasons or series in single viewings. In the convergence era, the formula for network television is redefined, even reprogrammed. These experiments raise questions about what the future of television will be.

This panel will consider contemporary television series' representations of the future, innovative series that expand the boundaries of their medium, and how technology has changed how we see television.

Please submit 250-500 word abstracts on the NeMLA website: The deadline is September 30, 2014.