Not long ago, the slogan "to be continued" left fans of movies, novels, television series, or graphic novels with bated breath. Audiences had nothing to do but impatiently wait for the next ... read more
Not long ago, the slogan "to be continued" left fans of movies, novels, television series, or graphic novels with bated breath. Audiences had nothing to do but impatiently wait for the next installment of a story to hit the cinema or the bookstore. But since the proliferation of digital platforms at the beginning of the 21st century, there has been a significant shift in American storytelling--one that gives fans and readers a bigger say in how their favorite pop-cultural productions will continue. Stories and their "devices" seem to have become open and malleable and readers now have more influence on how and in what way a story unfolds. Examples include permutating stories such as Building Stories by Chris Ware, online fan fiction and its overwhelming success (i.e., The 50 Shades of Grey trilogy), self-generating computer games such as Skyrim and Watch Dogs, user-generated websites such as tumblr or reddit, or albums published in form of sheet music. In all of these examples, readers are encouraged (or condemned!) to play an active role "working out" the story. Alliances between text and reader, but also among groups of fans and the creators of the show or book become visible.
What can be coined "evolving stories," then, tackles issues of subjectivity in the 21st century, of the material qualities of stories in the digital age, as well as the narrative characteristics of open-ended stories. This seminar will investigate these different strategies of storytelling by looking at different media, from graphic novels to sheet music. The seminar will familiarize students with contemporary narrative techniques and also help them identify recent cultural transformations that are largely an expression of the "digital age." close