Style and Stylistics (Discussion)

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"Televisuality and the Resurrection of the Sitcom in the 2000s"

View a scene from The Mindy Project (see Blackboard and screenshots online).

  • Table 5.3 in "Televisuality and the Resurrection of the Sitcom in the 2000s" (see above) lists elements of the "single-camera televisual schema".
    • How many of those single-camera elements do you see in The Mindy Project scene? Each group will account for one or two groups of elements (click a thumbnail above to enlarge it):
      1. Group 1: cinematography
      2. Group 2: mise-en-scene
      3. Group 3: editing
      4. Group 4: sound and "miscellaneous"
  • All groups: Table 5.6 from the essay outlines a "televisual continuum"--ranging from very televisual (The Simpsons) to not televisual at all (school-play recordings).
    1. What does the term "televisual" mean--as conceived by John Caldwell (see p. 175)?
    2. Where does The Mindy Project fit on the continuum? Table 5.6 puts The Honeymooners in the second category, The New Adventures of Old Christine (which we discussed three weeks ago) in the third category, and Scrubs in the fifth category.
    3. Where would you place The Office (see Ethan Thompson's and Brett Mills's discussion of comedy vérité ; p. 214?

Television: Visual Storytelling and Screen Culture

  1. Which stylistic approach does Butler's essay take?
    • Emmy, Emily, Jalen, and Stephen had the best response:
      • Our group came up with that it could be a blend of all four!
      • Overall, it's more analytical, but there are some moments when you would give historical context (the laugh track for example. you discussed how tv originated as a "spin-off" of radios so it was more audio-focused in the beginning but it's slowly advancing to be more visual-focused). That gave historical context as to why shows needed the laugh track to be successful until a certain point in time.
      • It becomes more descriptive when breaking down scenes, like the New Adventures of Old Christine scene, shot by shot.
      • Evaluative is the least we found.

Questions not covered in class

  1. All groups: Explain how the textbook defines the term "style" in your own words.
  2. Group None: Explain the work of "evaluative" and "descriptive" stylisticians. How might they approach The Mindy Project?
  3. Group 1: Explain the work of "analytic" stylisticians. How might they approach The Mindy Project? Be ready to define the following purposes or "functions" of style discussed in the textbook.
    • symbolize
    • decorate
  4. Group 2: Explain the work of "analytic" stylisticians. How might they approach The Mindy Project? Be ready to define the following purposes or "functions" of style discussed in the textbook.
    • persuade
    • hail or interpellate
    • differentiate
  5. Group 4: Explain the work of "historical" stylisticians. How might they approach The Mindy Project? Be ready to define these terms: "craft practices" and "schemas."

Bibliography

  1. Butler, Jeremy G. Television: Visual Storytelling and Screen Culture. NY: Routledge, 2018.
  2. Butler, Jeremy G. "Televisuality and the Resurrection of the Sitcom in the 2000s," in Television Style (NY: Routledge, 2010), 173-222.

External links