Supplementary Questions

  • How has the reproducibility of art works affected the values we place upon them?
  • From the early novelistic works to the contemporary television series, how has the episodic structure shaped the artistic process and its reception?
  • Why have so many great thinkers, as diverse as Kierkegaard and Freud, tasked themselves with addressing man’s repetition compulsion as both a source of his desire and anxiety?
  • How have notions of tension and expectation changed throughout the history of Western and other civilizations? Have these changes coincided with changes in conventions about length or the number of divisions in a work?
  • Do audiences and critics still believe, as they once did, that finis coronat opus (the end crowns the work)? If not, what belief has replaced it?
  • The desire–occasionally erotic–to repeat the past has been a common trope in visual art, literature, film, and television. How have various artists construed this desire and why?
  • In his response to Hegel, Marx famously said that when a world-historical event repeats, “the first time it’s a tragedy, the second time it’s a farce.” What is the role of the parody in the modern world? How has it changed throughout history? What meaning do we derive from the parody that supersedes the original?
  • What is gained and lost when an artist chooses to adapt a well-known work into a different medium or genre? Consider spinoffs, sequels, remakes, etc.
  • How have cyclical or non-linear theories of history and art affected our notions of seriality? What is this significance of the rise of sequels, remakes, adaptations and other forms of seriality alongside or within the numerous representations of apocalyptic narratives?
  • What is the role of juxtaposition within the larger category of seriality?
  • With the advent of the Internet generally and streaming and services such as Netflix more specifically, experiencing various iterations of works of visual art, films, and television shows in rapid succession has never been easier for such a vast number of people. With the advent of the internet and streaming media, rapid, prolonged (and insatiable) consumption of movies, images, and television shows has never been easier. How has this affected audience’s perceptions of these works? Consider as well previous expansions or contractions in the size, and makeup of audiences.
  • What happens to a series when it is collected and labeled, as in an anthology? How do questions of periodization–whether literary, artistic, and/or historical–relate to seriality?
  • Consider the logical extremes of seriality: an event that supposedly only happens once and an infinite series. How do considerations of one or both of these categories affect our notions of seriality?
  • How are our notions of the human being affected when a person is considered a series of parts?
  • Fragmentation has been said to characterize many artistic and literary movements in the modern world. What is the relationship between fragments and series?
  • Architects, city planners, visual artists, and filmmakers know well the complications that arise from alluding to famous spaces, places, and objects from the past: labyrinths, temples, the Parthenon, the Pantheon, Russian matryoshka dolls, etc. Consider how this self-consciousness about repetition and adaptation has affected their work and their audiences’ reception of it.
  • Is serial thinking relevant to specific genres, such as the dialogue or epistolary novel, that necessitate or imply a response and/or a plurality of voices?. How have these genres affected our notions of seriality?
  • Serial killers and criminals have been both the scourge and scintillating scandal of the modern world, provoking various kinds of artists to choose them for their subject matter. How have these artists construed them, why, and what does tell us about the societies in which they exist?
  • Some genres, such as the entire industry that has cropped around vampire fiction, have generated many more iterations than others. What about these genres has held the popular imagination and why?
  • From Aristophanes to De Man and Derrida, irony, what some might define as a meaning that is always behind or after the present one, has been one of the consistent features of Western civilization. What is the relationship between the various manifestations of irony and seriality?
  • Consider how the problem of the object versus the image of it which we experience, arguably the province of philosophers and psychologists most directly, is related to questions of seriality.
  • Various groups throughout history, such as those that have suffered or chosen diaspora(s), have attempted to repeat past moments. How have these groups and their narratives contributed to our notions of seriality?
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