Often, students mention that they’re not sure what they should be looking for in the reading. The appended list of questions is intended to help you tease out some of the most salient ideas in the Mittell, Jenkins, and McCloud readings.
1. Henry Jenkins is the author of the article “Searching for The Origami Unicorn.” Who is Henry Jenkins, and why might he have something interesting to tell us about transmedia storytelling?
2. Jason Mittell authored the article “Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television.” Who is Jason Mittell, and where did this article appear?
3. When does Mittell think the “era of television complexity” began, and what are some specific television programs that he references?
4. Mittell identifies several “key influences” that explain the rise of narrative complexity on our television screens. What are some of these influences?
5. Mittell points to Firefly (television) and the film Serenity as an example of how certain aspects of narrative complexity are easier on television than in the cinema. What is his basic argument?
6. What does Mittell mean by the term “narrative spectacle,” and can you think of any examples of this in stories that you have consumed?
7. Mittell frequently uses the term “diegetic.” You might have come across this word in literature courses or in courses on film theory. If the term is new to you, look it up. Is the song “Llorando” from Mulholland Dr. diegetic or non-diegetic? How about the theme song that kicks off every James Bond movie?
8. What is the “origami unicorn,” and what point is Henry Jenkins trying to make when he mentions it?
9. Why does Jenkins think that economic factors might play a role in transmedia storytelling?
10. What does Jenkins mean by the term “transmedia storytelling?” (Don’t try to memorize definitions word for word. Just try to focus on the key elements of the definition.
11. In his chapter on the origami unicorn, Jenkins makes an intriguing point about Jesus and Odysseus. What is his argument here?
12. What was The Beast and how did it relate to rabbit holes?
13. In his discussion of Pokemon and collective intelligence, Jenkins makes a crucial point about “cheating” and education. What is his argument here?
14. What does McCloud mean by “Choice of Frame,” and how could this concept be applied to the iconic photo of Saddam Hussein’s statue being toppled in 2003 after the invasion of Iraq? (Note: Google may help here.)
15. What point is McCloud trying to make when he says “Oh, hey, look! It’s Kelly Donovan, twin brother of the guy who played Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, plus Humphrey Bogart wearing a Freddie Mercury Mask and a robot duplicate of former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali.”
16. What is McCloud’s argument about balancing intensity with clarity in comics, and how might this be applied to other media?