Public lecture – John T. Caldwell (UCLA)

Para-industry, shadow academy

Date ¦ Monday, 21 May 2012
Time ¦ Morning, exact time to be announced
Venue ¦ Utrecht, to be announced
Open to ¦ all

What does it mean to critically theorize a television industry that critically theorizes itself? How should scholars engage, describe, and research media industries in which reflexive forms of self-scrutiny, posed transparency, and meta-reflection have become dominant and widely circulated forms of commercial screen content and entertainment? In this lecture, Caldwell maps the outlines not of “paratexts” but of what he terms “Para-Industry.” This refers to the ubiquitous industrial and corporate fields that surround and complicate any access to what we traditionally regard as our primary objects of media research—messages, texts, forms, institutions, and even audiences. Complicating matters further still are the ways media industries today function as a “shadow academy,” by emulating, incorporating, or mirroring the very theoretical paradigms and oppositional modes that scholars have developed to maintain their objectivity.  The goal here is to more systematically describe something that is arguably foundational to either good social science-based communication studies or humanities-based cinema and media studies. In this account, media texts are per se collective, negotiated, industrial interactions, not the end-product of economic or collective negotiation sent or sold to viewers. 

About John T. Caldwell
John Caldwell is Professor of Cinema and Media Studies in the Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media at UCLA. Holding a PhD from Northwestern and an MFA from Cal Arts, Caldwell’s main areas of research and teaching focus on contemporary film and television and the technologies and cultural economy of creative labor.  He has authored and edited several books, including Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television  (Duke: Univ. Press 2008), Production Studies: Cultural Studies of Media Industries, (Routledge, 2009, co-edited), Televisuality: Style, Crisis, and Authority in American Television, (Rutgers UP, 1995), Electronic Media and Technoculture (Rutgers UP, 2000), and New Media: Theories and Practices of Digitextuality, (Routledge, 2003, co-edited).