I’m heading to MLA in Austin, TX this weekend to chair and present on a panel entitled, “Long-Form: Varieties of Cinematic Time” with Mark Goble and Jessica Hurley. I’ll be talking about Cecil B. DeMille, Bruce Barton, D.W. Griffith, Lois Weber, W.E.B. Du Bois, and dissolves that transition thousands of years. Here are the details, if you’re in the market:

Long-Form: Varieties of Cinematic Time

5:15 – 6:30 PM / 205, JW Marriott

1. “Cycles and Squares: Early Cinema’s Historical Frames,” Me

2. “Cinema in 1968 until the End of Time,”Mark Goble, Univ. of California, Berkeley

3. “Slow Motion and the End of Time: Melancholia,” Jessica Hurley, Univ. of Chicago



A while ago, Lili Loofbourow and I curated a collection of essays for PMLA on academia, criticism, and the internet age called “The Semipublic Intellectual.” It features work from a murderer’s row of scholars I admire, including Hua Hsu, Natalia Cecire, Evan Kindley, Michael Berube, Sharon Marcus, and Salamishah Tillet. In honor of Open Access Week, PMLA has graciously posted the whole conversation on MLA Commons. Here’s some of what Lili and I had to say, by way of introduction:

“This is not an unmixed blessing. Scholarly culture is not particularly suited to intense, rapid debate, and this shows in the pace and tone of our professional disagreements. Wary of informal public modes of intellectual engagement, we as academic critics gravitate toward more intimate models, where disagreements either stay politely off the record or are published so long after the text to which they respond that only the determined can follow the conversation. The snail’s pace of this process makes prolonged engagements difficult to conduct and even harder to track. We have been failing to witness our own arguments.”

“The Semipublic Intellectual: Academia, Criticism, and the Internet Age”


Last week, I wrote a short piece about cringeworthy TV and the dazzling return of HBO’s The Leftovers for The New Republic.

“The first episodes of this new season are narratively jarring (the season opener begins in what seems to be pre-historic times, and we don’t see a recognizable face until almost halfway through the episode), they’re shot through with disturbing and surreal images of violence, but, more than that, they play with our anticipation of cringeworthy shocks. A suspicious pie gets passed around multiple kitchen counters like Chekhov’s gun, a man spends an almost unbearable amount of time with his hand down a garbage disposal, our protagonist spends an even longer time with his face pressed up to a malfunctioning gas burner waiting for his cigarette to light or his face to burn off—so far, none of these moments deliver the bloody coup de grace, but we dwell in expectation of it. Traumatized by the first season, we shudder at every perceived threat, real or imaginary.”

“Post-Cringe: The Leftovers and the Rise of Endurance TV”


Book-ending our vacation, I wrote for Dear Television at The LA Review of Books about the other show of the summer: USA’s Mr. Robot. Specifically, I wrote about the concept of the “cinematic” on TV and about why everyone wants to list this show’s influences.

“But, where this [SPOILER REDACTED] could be a huge, devastating problem, I think there’s a way to imagine that this particular debt and Esmail’s management of it are what make Mr. Robot genuinely great. There’s no anxiety to this influence; just preternatural chill. Thrill, even. The show luxuriates in its stolen goods, pays for hot dogs with marked bills, leaves a trail of cryptic clues for the rookie detective. Like the best serial killers, Mr. Robot wants to get caught.”

“Original Programming: On Mr. Robot


I’m thrilled to be a part of this Antenna forum on Lifetime’s UnReal, organized by Jason Mittell, and featuring Kathleen Battles, Christine Becker, Melissa Lenos, Myles McNutt, Dana Och, and Kristen Warner.  We talk about genre, romance, legitimation, and why TV doesn’t need to be “The New Novel” to be worth our time.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.