Jason Mittell

Professor of Film and Media Culture

 work(802) 443-3435
 On leave for Spring 2022 - available via email
 Axinn Center 208

Complex TVOffice Hours - by appointment at https://mittell.appointlet.com

Jason Mittell is Professor of Film & Media Culture and American Studies at Middlebury College. He arrived at Middlebury in 2002 after two years teaching at Georgia State University. He received a B.A. from Oberlin College and a Ph.D. from University of Wisconsin - Madison.

He is the author of Genre and Television: From Cop Shows to Cartoons in American Culture, (Routledge, 2004), Television and American Culture (Oxford University Press, 2010), Complex Television: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling (NYU Press, 2015), and Narrative Theory and ADAPTATION. (Bloomsbury, 2017), co-author with Christian Keathley and Catherine Grant of The Videographic Essay, and the co-editor of How to Watch Television (NYU Press, 2013; second edition, 2020). He maintains the blog Just TV.

His research interests include television history and criticism, media and cultural history, narrative theory, genre theory, videographic criticism, animation and children’s media, videogames, digital humanities, and new media studies & technological convergence. He is Project Manager for [in]Transition, a journal of videographic criticism, and co-leader of the NEH-sponsored digital humanities workshop "Scholarship in Sound & Image" a two-week intensive workshop focused on producing video-based scholarly criticism since 2015. See his CV for more details, his scholarly writings for downloadable content, and his Vimeo page for videographic work.

Television & American Culture

In Fall 2014, Professor Mittell was the founding Faculty Director of Middlebury's Digital Liberal Arts Initiative, a program funded by the Mellon Foundation to expand the use of digital tools and methods across the curriculum and help faculty innovate in their research and creative work.

In the 2011-12 academic year, he was a visiting fellow at the Lichtenberg-Kolleg at the University of Göttingen, Germany, collaborating with colleagues on the Popular Seriality research initiative.



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

AMST 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
Select project advisor prior to registration.

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

More Information »

AMST 0710 - Honors Thesis      

Honors Thesis
For students who have completed AMST 0705, and qualify to write two-credit interdisciplinary honors thesis. on some aspect of American culture. The thesis may be completed on a fall/winter schedule or a fall/spring schedule. (Select a thesis advisor prior to registration)

Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Winter 2020, Winter 2021, Winter 2022, Winter 2023

More Information »

FMMC 0104 / AMST 0104 - Television & American Culture      

Television and American Culture
This course explores American life in the last seven decades through an analysis of our central medium: television. Spanning a history of television from its origins in radio to today’s digital convergence via YouTube and Netflix, we will consider television's role in both representing and constituting American society through a variety of approaches, including: the economics of the television industry, television's role within American democracy, the formal attributes of various television genres, television as a site of gender and racial identity formation, television's role in everyday life, the medium's technological transformations, and television as a site of global cultural exchange. Note to students: this course involves substantial streaming of television for assigned viewing. 3 hrs. lect./disc. / 3 hrs. screen AMR NOR SOC

Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

More Information »

FMMC 0334 - Videographic Film Studies      

Videographic Film and Media Studies
Digital video technologies—such as DVDs, digital editing software, and online streaming—now enable film and media scholars to “write” with the same materials that constitute their object of study: moving images and sounds. But such a change means rethinking the rhetorical modes traditionally used in scholarly writing, and incorporating more aesthetic and poetic elements alongside explanation and analysis. In this hands-on course, we will both study and produce new videographic forms of criticism often known as “video essays,” exploring how such work can both produce knowledge and create an aesthetic impact. (FMMC 0101 or FMMC 0104 or by approval) 3 hrs. sem

Spring 2021, Fall 2022

More Information »

FMMC 0355 / AMST 0355 - Theories of Popular Culture      

Theories of Popular Culture
This writing-intensive course introduces a range of theoretical approaches to study American popular culture, exploring the intersection between everyday life, mass media, and identity and social power. We will consider key theoretical readings and approaches to studying culture, including ideology and hegemony theory, audience studies, subcultural analysis, the politics of taste, and cultural representations of identity. Using these theoretical tools, we will examine a range of popular media and sites of cultural expression, from television to toys, films to music, to understand popular culture as a site of ongoing political and social struggle. (FMMC 0102 or FMMC 0104 or AMST 0101 or instructor approval) 3 hrs. sem/3 hrs. screen. CW SOC

Fall 2019

More Information »

FMMC 0360 - Film & Media Criticism      

Key Concepts in Film & Media Criticism
This writing-intensive seminar takes a close look at four key theoretical concepts for film & media criticism: textuality, authorship, genre, and narrative. How do we understand the boundaries between any film “text” and its broader intertextual contexts? How does authorship frame our understanding of the style and ethics of any given film? How do genre categories help us make sense of films and media, as well as their cultural contexts? How do films and media tell stories in distinctive and innovative ways? Through theoretical readings and exemplary screenings, we will learn to become sharper critics of films and media. (FMMC 0101 or FMMC 0102 or FMMC 0104 or instructor's approval) 3 hrs. sem./3 hrs. screen CW

Spring 2020, Fall 2021

More Information »

FMMC 0507 - Independent Project      

Advanced Independent work in Film and Media Culture
Consult with a Film and Media Culture faculty member for guidelines.

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

More Information »

FMMC 0700 - Senior Tutorial      

Senior Tutorial
All FMMC majors must complete this course in their senior year, during which they undertake the process of devising, researching, and developing the early drafts and materials for an independent project in Film and Media in their choice of medium and format. Students will be poised to produce and complete these projects during Winter Term, via an optional but recommended independent study. Prerequisites for projects in specific formats are outlined on the departmental website.

Fall 2020

More Information »

FMMC 0701 - Senior Project      

Senior Projects
Students may enroll in this project-based independent credit to complete the thesis work started in the fall. Requires faculty approval based on satisfactory progress in the Senior Tutorial. Projects will include a public presentation at the end of Winter or beginning of Spring term. WTR

Winter 2021, Spring 2021

More Information »

FMMC 0707 - Senior Independent Work      

Senior Independent Work
After completing FMMC 0700, seniors may be approved to complete the project they developed during the previous Fall semester by registering for this independent course during the Winter Term, typically supervised by their faculty member from FMMC 0700. Students will complete an independent project in a choice of medium and format, as outlined on the departmental website. This course does not count toward the required number of credits for majors, but is required to be considered for departmental honors. In exceptional cases, students may petition to complete their projects during Spring semester.

Winter 2019, Winter 2020, Winter 2021, Winter 2022, Winter 2023

More Information »

FYSE 1015 - Watching the Wire      

Watching the Wire: Urban America and Serial Television
Frequently hailed as one of television’s great masterpieces, The Wire shines a light on urban decay in 21st-century America, creating a dramatic portrait of Baltimore’s police, drug trade, and other institutions over five serialized seasons. In this course we will watch and discuss this remarkable—and remarkably entertaining—series twenty years after its debut, placing it within the dual contexts of urban American society and television storytelling. This is a time-intensive course (60 hours of TV!), focused on close viewing, critical analysis of race and policing, and research into The Wire’s social contexts, aesthetic practices, and politics of representation. AMR CW

Fall 2022

More Information »

Selected Recent Publications

The Videographic Essay (2019).

Narrative Theory and ADAPTATION. (Bloomsbury, 2017).

Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling (New York University Press, 2015).

Adaptation.’s Anomalies,” [in]Transition 3.1 (March 2016) – videographic essay.

Department of Film and Media Culture

Axinn Center at Starr Library
15 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753
Fax: 802.443.2805