We are happy to announce that our Assistant Professor Toni Pape has received the Prize for the Best Thesis in the Humanities 2013-2014 awarded by the School of Graduate Studies of the Université de Montréal.
Toni’s doctoral thesis Figures of Time: Preemptive Narratives in Contemporary Television Series investigates how TV shows relate to the future. More specifically, the thesis looks at series that show us events from the very ending of the season at the very beginning of the season: series that preempt their endings and then take us back in time to show us how the ending will have come about. Hence the term preemptive narratives. The central question of the thesis concerns aesthetic experience: What is like to perceive the present through the prism of a foretold, oftentimes catastrophic future? In order to answer this question, the thesis relates this narrative loop through the future to the politics of preemption. The doctrine of preemption consists precisely in evoking threatening future scenarios to modulate the present. In other words, preemption is part and parcel of a politics of fear. In this way, the thesis shows that television series are immediately political: their politicality resides not only in the content they represent (or mediate) but also in the way in which their aesthetic movements can attune viewers to a political culture that harnesses the future to extract a particular present.
Toni is currently working on a book manuscript for this project.