Once upon a time, different forms of media could be counted on to deliver entertainment in nice, discrete packages. Books were books. Movies were movies. TV programs were TV programs. But times have changed.
Media scholar Henry Jenkins draws our attention to the phenomenon of “transmedia storytelling” in which elements of narrative fiction are “dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.” This trend can be seen in the Star Wars franchise (which has developed lore via seven feature films, two animated series, several video games, more than a dozen comic books, and close to a hundred novels), movies like Southland Tales that can only be understood with reference to “prequel graphic novels,” alternate reality games such as Perplex City and I Love Bees, and the rise of fan-designed fiction and fan-designed role-playing games for titles ranging from Harry Potter and Fringe to Dexter and Firefly.
In this upper-division media studies course, we will analyze, consume, play, and create transmedia narratives while considering ways that these trends transform the nature of mediated communication.