The Genre between Television and Cinema: For an Aesthetics of Serialization
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In a 1982 essay entitled “The Fact of Television”, the American philosopher Stanley Cavell revisits the topic of genres and notes the difference between the concepts of “genre-as-cycle” and “genre-as-medium”. He uses the former to refer to television series, in which individual episodes are instances of an ensemble of characters and settings, while the latter applies both to films (as members of the genre) and to a myth that must be inherited and interpreted from time to time. Cavell associates such a cycle with the process of “serialization”. This aesthetic prototype genre represents a sort of embryonic phase of Jason Mittell’s “Complex TV” genre. In both cases, the format and the processes of seriality are the basis for constructing the concept of genre in relation to the specificity of the television medium. The theoretical richness of Cavell’s approach can still therefore be exploited to classify certain aspects of the television phenomenon, especially as regards genres and narration, in what has been termed the “Age of Abundance”.
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