I have recently finished an article for a journal on the possible re-introduction of a more structuralist approach in narrative analysis in TV; I am working on a panel-paper looking at structural/formal elements in Revenge (ABC) and I am not apologetic at the least.
I have read Jason Mittell’s blog on rhythm in TV series and a In Media Res contribution dealing with questions of YouTube comments and their narrative content and importance. What I see not only in these examples is that more and more of us, while stating that they are not calling for structuralism per se, are doing just that.
We as academics are driven by a need to interrogate, and it looks like we begin asking questions again, that were pushed to the margins. Clearly there seems to be a longing in many academics, especially those concerned with narrative, to bring back a sense of poetics and a more clearly defined academic tool. Narrative Complexity and Quality TV and questions of beats and arcs and major discussions of episode/series unity all are looking for something to take root in, it seems. I, personally, believe that I NEED to call for Propp and Todorov, which I do in my paper on Justified (FX), and join their analysis with QTV and narrative complexity, BECAUSE, as simple as it may sound, the root of story-telling, has not drastically changed, as much as it has evolved for our more complex times. Therefore marrying the structuralist approach that I find still holds true at the base with what our current techonologically advanced society demands of us as listeners, viewers, and spectators not only makes sense, but will reveal, again, how change is actually processed in the most human way. No the tricky part will actually lie in creating a meaningful union of the structuralist and contemporary approaches, but it would not be satisfying, if it were easy. I have decided to stop saying that I am “not really calling for structuralism”. I do say: “I call for a contemporary structuralist approach to media analysis.”
Narrative complexity and Propp, Quality TV and Todorov make good partners here and for Jason Mittell’s Scenic Rhythm; and I believe that equal partners exist for the above mentioned YouTube analysis, or any sort of internet based research, such as social websites and locative apps, as well as gaming.
I hope less and less of us will shy away from using as an additional tool what has been dismissed (maybe) to quickly in how we look at, and analyze the narrative constructs which surround us.