21L.430 | Spring 2013 | Undergraduate
Popular Culture and Narrative: Serial Storytelling

Syllabus and Calendar

Course Meeting Times

Seminars: 2 sessions / week, 2 hours / session

Required Texts

[AT] = Tennyson, Alfred. In Memoriam. W.W. Norton & Company, 2003. ISBN: 9780393979268.

[DS] = The Wire: The Complete First Season. Created by David Simon. Home Box Office, Inc., 2004. DVD.

DeLyria, Joy, and Sean Michael Robinson. Down in the Hole: The UnWired World of H. B. Ogden. powerHouse Books, 2012. ISBN: 9781576876022.

Major Assignments

  • The Wire viewing journal
  • Two shorter essays
  • Class presentations on final project
  • Final essay


1 Introducing the Serial  
2 Thresholds of Serial: Rembrandt

Rembrandt: The Self-Portraits (PDF - 21.1MB) 
Gallery at Rembrandtpainting.net

Vincent, Jean. “The Aging Face of Rembrandt.” Thinking About Art. Blog post with embedded video not produced by the author. November 27, 2011.

Stevens, Wallace. “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” 1917.

3 Thresholds of Serial: Rembrandt (cont.)

[DS] Episodes 1 & 2. 

Chapman, H. Perry. “The Self Fashioned.” In Rembrandt’s Self-Portraits: A Study in Seventeenth-Century Identity. Princeton University Press, 1990. ISBN: 9780691040615.

Koerner, Joseph Leo. “Rembrandt and the Epiphany of the Face.” RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, no. 12 (1986): 5–32.

Schwartz, Frederic. “’The Motions of the Countenance’: Rembrandt’s Early Portraits and the Tronie.” RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, no. 17/18 (1989): 89–116.

Auden, W. H. “Musée des Beaux Arts.” 1938.

4 Sequence and Argument: Goya

Goya, Francisco. The Disasters of War (1810–1820)
Prints 1–30 (PDF - 17.2MB) 
Prints 31–60 (PDF - 17.5MB) 
Prints 61–83 (PDF - 14.7MB) 
Gallery at Wikimedia Commons

Hughes, Robert. “War with Napoleon.” In Goya. Knopf, 2006. ISBN: 9780375711282.

5 Sequence and Argument: Goya (cont.)

[DS] Episode 3.

Goya, The Disasters of War (cont.)

Hults, Linda C. “The Print and Socio-Political Reform: Hogarth and His Heirs and Goya.” In The Print in the Western World: An Introductory History. University of Wisconsin Press, 1996. ISBN: 9780299137007.

6 Inventing the Multiverse: Comics

[DS] Episode 4.

Eco, Umberto, and Natalie Chilton. “The Myth of Superman.” Diacritics 2, no. 1 (1972): 14–22.

Burgas, Greg. “Compressed Storytelling versus Decompressed Storytelling.” Reblogged by Brian Cronin at ComicBookResources.com. October 25, 2007.

Rhoades, Shirrel. Chapters 2, 4, 5, and 6 in A Complete History of American Comic Books. Peter Lang, 2008. ISBN: 9781433101076. [Preview with Google Books]

7 Motion Studies: Photography

Doane, Mary Ann. “Zeno’s Paradox: The Emergence of Cinematic Time,” and “Temporality, Storage, Legibility: Freud, Marey, and the Cinema.” In The Emergence of Cinematic Time: Modernity, Contingency, the Archive. Harvard University Press, 2002. ISBN: 9780674007840.

Ball, Edward. The Inventor and the Tycoon. Anchor, 2013, pp. 15–21, 71–2, 119–25, and 306–29. ISBN: 9780767929400.

Edweard Muybridge, photographs.

Duchamp, Marcel. Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2. 1912.

8 The Challenge of Formula: Journalism 
Guest speaker: Alexandra Garcia, The Washington Post

[DS] Episode 5.

Darnton, Robert. “Writing News and Telling Stories.” Daedalus 104, no. 2 (1975): 175–94.

Scene In” (4 episodes). WashingtonPost.Com. Web video series.

Heath, Chris. “18 Tigers, 17 Lions, 8 Bears, 3 Cougars, 2 Wolves, 1 Baboon, 1 Macaque, and 1 Man Dead in Ohio.” GQ, March 2012.

Jones, Chris. “Animals.” Esquire, March 2012.

Ogles, Jonah. “Man or Beast?Cincinnati, March 1, 2012.

9 The Challenge of Formula: Journalism (cont.)

Orwell, George. “Boys’ Weeklies.” In All Art Is Propaganda. Mariner Books, 2009. ISBN: 9780156033077.

Buy at MIT Press McLuhan, Marshall. “The Medium is the Message.” In Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. The MIT Press, 1964. ISBN: 9780262631594.

Stevens, Wallace. “Anecdote of the Jar.” 1919.

10 Stasis and Progress: Tennyson, In Memoriam

[DS] Episode 6.

[AT] Prologue. pp. 1–7, 9, 18, 27–30, 34, and 47–8.

Sacks, Peter. “Interpreting the Genre: The Elegy and the Work of Mourning.” In The English Elegy. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987. ISBN: 9780801834714.

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. Harcourt Brace & Company, 1997, pp. 73–4. ISBN: 9780156005555.

11 Stasis and Progress: Tennyson, In Memoriam (cont.)

[AT] “Epilogue.” pp. 50, 54–6, 69, 78, 104–7, 117–20, and 128–31.

Tennyson, Alfred. “Introduction.” In In Memoriam. Edited by Susan Shatto and Marion Shaw. Clarendon Press, 1982. ISBN: 9780198127475.

Landseer, Edwin Henry. “Man Proposes God Disposes.” 1864.

Dyce, William. “Pegwell Bay, Kent—A Recollection of October 5th 1858.” 1860.

12 The Hero’s Journey: Tennyson, Morte D’Arthur

[DS] Episode 7.

Tennyson, Alfred Lord. “The Epic,” and “Morte D’Arthur.” 1842.

13 Whole Into Parts: Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers

[DS] Episode 8.

Dickens, Charles. Prefaces (PDF) in The Pickwick Papers.

———. Chapters 1–2 (PDF) in The Pickwick Papers
(Full text at Project Gutenberg.)

Hughes, Linda K., and Michael Lund. “Introducing the Serial.” In The Victorian Serial. University of Virginia Press, 1991. ISBN: 9780813913148.

14–16 Whole Into Parts: Charles Dickens, Bleak House

Dickens, Charles. Bleak House. 1853.

[DS] Episode 9.

Miller, J. Hillis. “Interpretation in Bleak House.” In Victorian Subjects. Duke University Press, 1990. ISBN: 9780822311102.

Altick, Richard D. “English Publishing and the Mass Audience in 1852.” In Writers, Readers, and Occasions. Ohio State University Press, 1988. ISBN: 9780814204597.

17 The Reader Replies: Sherlock Holmes

Moretti, Franco. “The Slaughterhouse of Literature.” (PDF) MLQ: Modern Language Quarterly 61, no. 1 (2000): 207–27.

Conan Doyle, Arthur. “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” (PDF - 1.5MB)The Strand Magazine, February 1892, 108-123. (note: this PDF is a scan of the original 1892 publication)

Conan Doyle, Arthur.  “The Adventure of the Red-Headed League.”  In The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. George Newnes Ltd, 1892.

Conan Doyle, Arthur. “The Final Problem.” In The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.  George Newnes Ltd, 1894.

Selected excerpts (PDF - 13.2MB) from other Holmes Stories.

Optional Reading

Orwell, George. “Decline of the English Murder,” Tribune, February 15, 1946.

18 The Reader Replies: Sherlock Holmes (cont.)

[DS] Episode 10.

Jurgensen, John. “Binge Viewing: TV’s Lost Weekends,” The Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2012.

Armisen, Fred, and Carrie Brownstein. “Battlestar Galactica.” Portlandia. Selection of comedic sketch originally produced for prestige television, subsequently made available for marketing purposes. Broadway Video Television and IFC Original Productions, 2011.

Armisen, Fred, Carrie Brownstein, et al. “Spoiler Alert.” Portlandia. Selection of comedic sketch originally produced for prestige television, subsequently made available for marketing purposes. Broadway Video Television and IFC Original Productions, 2013.

Garcia, Alexandra, Jason Spingarn-Koff, et al. “Downton Abbey Spoiler Alert.” Convergence Journalism? Emerging Documentary and Multimedia Forms of News. One minute segment of recorded forum session. MIT Communications Forum, 2013, 01:27:00–01:28:00.

Condry, Ian. “Making a Cutting-Edge Anime Studio: The Value of the Gutter.” In The Soul of Anime. Duke University Press Books, 2013. ISBN: 9780822353805.

19 Parts Into Whole: Charlie Chaplin, The Gold Rush

Chaplin, Charlie. Selected short films & The Gold Rush. 1925.

Mast, Gerald and Bruce F. Kawin. “Mark Sennett and the Chaplin Shorts,” and “The Comics.” In A Short History of the Movies. 6th ed. Allyn & Bacon, 1996. ISBN: 9780023770753.

20 Parts Into Whole: Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times

[DS] Episode 11.

Modern Times. Directed by Charlie Chaplin. Black and White, 87 min. 1936.

21 Remediation: The Wire

[DS] Episode 12.

Bolter, Jay David, and Richard Grusin. “Remediation.” (PDF) Configurations 4, no. 3 (1996): 311–58.

22 Remediation: The Wire (cont.)

[DS] Episode 13.

Mittell, Jason. “All in the Game: The Wire, Serial Storytelling, and Procedural Logic.” 2007.

Anderson, Paul Allen. “‘The Game Is the Game’: Tautology and Allegory in The Wire.” Criticism 52, no. 3–4 (2010): 373–98.

23 Remediation: The Wire (cont.)

DeLyria, Joy, and Sean Michael Robinson. Down in the Hole: The UnWired World of H. B. Ogden. powerHouse Books, 2012. ISBN: 9781576876022.

Owen, Paul. “The Wire Re-Up: Season Five, Episode Eight—The Dickensian Aspects.” TheGuardian.com: Organ Grinder Blog, April 5, 2010.

24–25 Class presentations  

Course Info
As Taught In
Spring 2013
Learning Resource Types
assignment Written Assignments