From publishing to television, from music and radio to cinema and advertising/branded entertainment & content, from the web and social media to videogames, contemporary media industry pays a growing attention to “transmedia narratives” or “transmedia storytelling” (as defined by Henry Jenkins): far from being a completely new phenomenon, present-day transmedia storytelling rely on an increasing “convergent media environment”, where different media link each other and where consumers are often involved in an active and participant manner. The course addresses both the category of narrative and “transmediality” from a theory and history framework, looking at fictional (scripted) and non-fictional (unscripted) narratives in various media.
Key-concepts and specific case-histories will serve as benchmarks. As key-concepts, the course will approach, among others, the followings:
- transmedia storytelling vs. cross-platform narratives;
- transmedia genres (such as fantasy, crime, sci-fi and so on);
- transmedia characters;
- transmedia fictional world (and world-building);
- transmedia brands and franchises;
- transmedia and “spreadable media”;
- transmedia writing, creation and production;
- transmedia consumers and fandom;
- transmedia industrial strategies;
- transmedia TV and transmedia formats
- transmedia and complex narratives (ie. contemporary TV series)
Having discussed the defining features of media narratives, the course aims to examine how narrative experience can be “expanded” across different media, considering the constraints and opportunities of each one, and the overall economic and cultural framework. On this basis, the course approaches the strategic design of transmedia narratives and the management of a transmedia franchise. At the end of the course, the students will be able to:
- Understand the theoretical debate around contemporary transmedia phenomena;
- Analyse a transmedia franchise across different platforms
- Develop a transmedia project starting from a specific media franchise
- Create a transmedia project for a TV format.
The course follows a simple format: I will deliver an opening lecture. That lecture will establish some of the contextual and historical issues having to do with the topic being discussed, during a particular week, and will give a particular grid to use for students’ work. The second half of the class will be devoted to students’ practical works presentation and discussion. During the semester, students will present three works, each one related to a particular skill: 1) analyze a transmedia franchise (Analysis/individual); 2) develop an already existent media franchise (development/group); 3) create and “produce” a fresh transmedia franchise or a “transmedia TV format” (final project, writing/group).
Attendance is not an obligation but it is highly recommended, since during the class students will be asked to present and discuss their works.
The final evaluation depends on a personal discussion about the three projects developed during the semester (Work 1: Analysis; Work 2: Development; Work 3: Writing/Creation), and particularly, on the final project. The projects discussed and presented in class are valued 30% of the final mark, the final oral discussion (grounded on the projects) 70%.
General Bibliography for the course (specific parts of the texts will be indicated during the class and on iCorsi):
H. Jenkins, Convergence culture, NYU Press;
Derek Johnson, Media Franchises: Creative Licensing and Collaboration in the Creative Industries, NYU, 2013
Jason Mittell, Complex TV. The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling, New York University Press, 2015
S. Guynes, D. Hassler-Forest, Star Wars and the History of Transmedia Storytelling, Amsterdam University Press, 2018.
Other specific readings will be mentioned during the class.