Comparative Media Studies represents a new paradigm in media scholarship, one which merges together the best conceptual models from a range of different disciplines to address issues of media content, context, and change. It is comparative in multiple senses -- comparative across media, across historical periods, across national borders, and across disciplinary perspectives.

Much of my early work dealt with points of intersection between different media, though I did not yet have a fully developed understanding of what comparative media studies might look like. For example, my book, What Made Pistachio Nuts?: Early Sound Comedy and the Vaudeville Aesthetic dealt with the development of a new aesthetics of popular performance in vaudeville which had an enormous impact on film comedy as Broadway performers were recruited by Hollywood in order help make the transition from silent to sound cinema. In this book, I explore what aspects of the vaudeville style could work in the context of classical Hollywood narrative and which were rejected and reworked as cinema restabilized its own norms after the end of that transitional period.

In a later essay, "The Fellow Keaton Seems to Be the Whole Show': The Interrupted Performance in Buster Keaton's Films", which appeared in Andrew Horton's Buster Keaton's Sherlock Junior, I go back to an earlier period of interaction between popular theater and cinema, exploring the different performance strategies that emerge at different moments in Buster Keaton's career to negotiate between competing aesthetic norms.

This research was informed by an approach, known as historical poetics, which seeks to map the aesthetic norms and implicit assumptions that shaped the production of media texts at particular historical junctures. This approach was developed by David Bordwell and Kristen Thompson as they applied and adapted the ideas of the Russian formalists to study cinema. My essay, "Historical Poetics and the Popular Cinema," published in Mark Jancovich's Approaches to the Popular Cinema, I outline and expand upon their framing of historical poetics, suggesting its relevance to a larger understanding of popular aesthetics and the politics of taste cultures.

Several of my Technology Review columns have dealt with the ways that digital media are altering more traditional forms of communication, dealing with emerging concepts of interactive television in "TV Tomorrow" or shifting conceptions of journalism in "..." "Art Form for the Digital Age" uses Gilbert Seldes's concept of the "lively arts," developed in response to early 20th century media forms such as the comic strip, the Hollywood film, and the Broadway musical, to propose ways of thinking about the aesthetic status of computer games. Another column, "Culture Goes Global" uses the production and circulation of global fusion music to make some predictions about new kinds of culture which are likely to emerge as the net expands points of contact between different national cultures.

"Nintendo and New World Narrative," which first appeared in Steve Jones' Communications in Cyberspace, represents a dialogue with Renaissance scholar Mary Fuller which compares new world travel writing and computer games as two different forms of spatial stories. Here, we argue that spatial stories represent an understudied aesthetic tradition that displaces issues of narrative causality and character development in favor of spatial exploration.

A different strand of my research dealt with the intersection between media systems from an audience studies perspective. My book, Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture, dealt with the ways television fans utilized media content as a resource for alternative forms of cultural production, including the writing of fan fiction, the performance of filk or fan music, and the editing of fan videos.

I have subsequently traced the ways this same community makes use of digital media. "Do You Enjoy Making the Rest of Us Feel Stupid?:, The Trickster Author, and Viewer Mastery," which appeared in David Lavery's Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks, explored the ways that fans of Twin Peaks employed the internet to expand the resources available to them for deciphering the mystery of Who Killed Laura Palmer.

I returned to this same issue of on-line communities and fan reception almost a decade later with "Interactive Audiences?" Here, I draw on Pierre Levy's concept of collective intelligence to examine the ways fans use computers in relation to other media to expand opportunities for critical dialogue, audience activism, and cultural production and distribution and in the process, redefine the relations between audience, producers, and texts.

Another recent essay, "Quentin Tarantino's Star Wars? Parody and Appropriation in an Age of Cultural Convergence", which will appear in Bart Cheever and Nick Constant's d-Film anthology, deals with the ways that Star Wars fans have made use of the emerging resources of digital cinema to talk back to the Hollywood blockbuster. Once again, I am dealing with the flow of content -- stories, characters, ideas -- from one media system to another.

"Her Suffering Aristocratic Majesty': The Sentimental Value of Lassie," which appeared in Marsha Kinder's Kids Media Culture, offers another approach to comparative media studies -- tracing the migration of a popular fictional character across books, television, and film and across different historical periods. I focus on moments when the ownership of the remarkable collie shifts since these moments are often occasions for articulating the value of dogs and the kinds of investments which they owners make in them.

Similarly, "The All-American Handful: Dennis the Menace, Permissive Childrearing and the Bad Boy Tradition," which first appeared in Lynn Spigel and Mike Curtin's The Revolution Wasn't Televised: Sixties Television and Social Conflict, traced the evolution of a "bad boy" character as he migrates from the comics to television.

In "Before the Holodeck: Tracing Star Trek Through Digital Media," co-authored with Janet Murray and first appearing in Greg Smith's On A Silver Platter: CD-Roms and the Promises of a New Technology, I examine what gets embraced and what gets left behind when television content is transformed into the basis for interactive entertainment. Murray approaches this question from an aesthetic perspective, expressing pleasure in the more immersive opportunities for play with Star Trek introduced by games, where-as I tackle the question from the point of view of meaning and interpretation, noting the ways that Star Trek games excludes aspects of the series metatext which sustained the interests and participation of its female fans.

In recent years, I have been called upon to develop overview essays that synthesize significant new theoretical and methodological developments.

For example, the Hop on Pop project was intended to focus attention on new methodological and conceptual models for studying the politics and pleasures of popular culture. In a manifesto , "The Culture That Sticks to the Skin: Towards a New Paradigm in Cultural Studies," co-authored with Jane Shattuc and Tara McPherson, we make a case for the emergence of a new perspective, one born of a closer affective relationship to popular culture, a greater emphasis on the particularity of specific case studies which are nevertheless understood within a larger context, a commitment to language which makes these ideas more accessible to a broader public, and an awareness of the interplay between global and local factors. An earlier version of this manifesto, "Cultural Studies: The Next Generation," appeared as the forward to a special issue of Continuum. In both Continuum and in Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture, we brought together more than 40 essays by young and established cultural scholars which demonstrate these new approaches at work.

In "The Work of Theory in the Age of Digital Transformation," published in Toby Miller and Robert Stam's A Companion to Film Theory, I offer an overview and critique of developments in digital theory suggesting the ways that it resembles or differs from earlier forms of media theory. Specifically, I describe four important dimensions of the emerging digital theory -- the shifting relationship between academic and vernacular theories of digital change, the concept of critical utopianism as a way of using future prediction to critique present conditions, and the use of digital media to revitalize the study of previous media and to examine points of intersection between media.

"Media in Transition: An Introduction," co-authored with David Thorburn for our book, Media in Transition, attempts to demonstrate how a comparative and historically informed approach might help us to better understand the process of media change. The essay specifically addresses both political changes and aesthetic changes brought about through the introduction of new communication and information technologies into pre-existing social and cultural contexts.

"Reception Theory and Audience Research: The Mystery of the Vampire's Kiss," which appeared in Christine Gledhill and Linda William's Reinventing Film Theory, re-visits core issues in theorizing the cinematic audience and ends with the suggestion that such accounts are limited if they do not fully address a new media environment where film may be consumed through many different communication channels and where film content intersects with other media content in many different ways.

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