Figures of Time

Affect and the Television of Preemption

Book Pages: 224 Illustrations: 52 illustrations Published: May 2019

Author: Toni Pape

Cultural Studies > Affect Theory, Media Studies > TV, Theory and Philosophy > Affect Theory

Many contemporary television series from Modern Family to How to Get Away with Murder open an episode or season with a conflict and then go back in time to show how that conflict came to be. In Figures of Time Toni Pape examines these narratives, showing how these leaps in time create aesthetic experiences of time that attune their audiences to the political doctrine of preemption—a logic that justifies preemptive action to nullify a perceived future threat. Examining questions of temporality in Life on Mars, the political ramifications of living under the auspices of a catastrophic future in FlashForward, and how Damages disrupts the logic of preemption, Pape shows how television helps shift political culture away from a model of rational deliberation and representation toward a politics of preemption and conformity. Exposing the mechanisms through which television supports a fear-based politics, Pape contends, will allow for the rechanneling of television's affective force into building a more productive and positive politics.


"Graduate students, scholars, and professions interested in media, time, and politics might find this book useful to help better understand the use of time in storytelling and its effects on politics and relatability." — Morgan Danker, Communication Booknotes Quarterly

“Providing a highly original contribution and a compelling televisual study, Toni Pape positions contemporary television as simultaneously aesthetical and political. He gives us an entirely new approach to thinking what media might be as an assemblage in motion while demonstrating how affect and representation, narrativity and movement, and immediation and mediation function relationally. An invigorating book.” — Anna Munster, author of An Aesthesia of Networks: Conjunctive Experience in Art and Technology

Figures of Time is an exciting book—what a rare feat to bring together a committed reading of television with a deep curiosity for all that makes the televisual what it is becoming! What makes this book unusual—and exciting—is that it risks thinking across, bringing into resonance the quality of a close reading with the political urgency of what else lurks in the interstices of a medium that moves across culture, aesthetics, and politics. With careful attention to the politics of preemption, to questions of futurity and how these, together, shape narratives to come, Toni Pape weaves a book that produces a theory of televisual experience that asks how aesthetics orients the very question of living.” — Erin Manning, author of The Minor Gesture


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Price: $25.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Toni Pape is Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam and coauthor of Nocturnal Fabulations: Ecology, Vitality, and Opacity in the Cinema of Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction. Preemptive Narratives and Televisual Futures  1
1. The Serial Machine: Toward Figures of Time  38
2. Three Representations and a Figural: Bergsonian Variations on Metric Time, the Virtual, and Creative Becoming  73
3. Loop into Line: The Moral Command of Preemption  109
4. Damages as Procedural Television  142
Afterword. Anarchival Television  176
Acknowledgments  183
Notes  185
Works Cited  203
Index  215
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0403-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0373-1
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