FlowTV is a critical forum on television and media culture published biweekly by the Department of Radio, Television, and Film at the University of Texas at Austin.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Taste and Television (Panel #21)

Panel Columnist: Jason Mittell (Middlebury College)
Participants: Roberta Pearson (University of Nottingham), Ronald Becker (Miami University), Greg Smith (Georgia State University), Matt Sienkiewicz (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Louisa Stein (San Diego State University)
Moderator: Julia Baron (University of Texas at Austin)

Question: What is the place of taste within television studies? Is taste something that exists only as a removed object of study (i.e. other people's taste), or can the scholar's taste inform our academic and pedagogic practices? How do technologies impact the practice of taste, like collaborative filtering/recommendation systems, or the collective intelligence of sites like Television without Pity or TV.com? How might scholarly taste feedback into the television industry? And how does the study of television differ from other media and forms concerning the role of scholarly taste?


Blogger JP Baron said...

I wanted to take this “public” space to thank all of the official Taste and Television participants—Jason Mittell, Ronald Becker, Roberta Pearson, Matt Sienkiewicz, Greg Smith, and Louisa Ellen Stein, as well as the immensely and wonderfully engaged unofficial participants alike. I can safely say we had over fifty bodies in the room—a great deal of whom spoke, sharing the relatively small amount of time (and space) we were allotted. The conversation was stimulating, took quite a few evocative directions, and as it seems with any important scholarly discourse, remains largely open-ended.

In a similar way to how scholars concerned with issues of identity politics (gender/race/class/sexuality/etc) have increasingly made apparent to the academy the relevance of establishing our own identities, the question of taste within a field we have placed such great stakes seems as imperative an issue as any. That is to say, I would argue we must render taste visible, or at the very least, consider our tastes—whether we can definitively know or understand them, or not. This likely will not and should not be as simple as “love” or “hate,” “good” or “bad.” As we become more accustomed to the ways in which television is a product, we are also growing more concerned—notably within reception studies—with the ways in which people formulate complex tastes, creations, and interactions with this medium. Approaching television studies with honest conviction, as scholars, it would be disadvantageous for us NOT to reflect upon something as byzantine yet fundamental as our own tastes—our own stakes.

It was wonderful to experience how the interest in this panel helped literalize the metaphor of Flow and what it means for us to be actively immersed in this ever-growing field, seeking conversation, challenges with their twists and turns, and new ways of thinking. That so many people have been invested in this conference, and this panel in particular, seems to verify the importance of such a field of study.

2:53 AM


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