Freeman, M (2012) Between the gaps and across the crevices: classical Hollywood, Superman, and the historical origins of transmedia storytelling. In: Alphaville Inaugural Conference: Cinema in the Interstices, 7-9 September 2012, University College Cork, Ireland.

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If this conference seeks to provoke dialogues on transition and difference by examining the gaps and junctures that exist between the borders of film history, then this paper traces mostly unexplored histories of transmedia storytelling by exploring industrial contexts of production in the era of Classical Hollywood – positioning the historical origins of transmediality as a practice that was formed in the cracks and crevices of U.S. media industries. Most explicitly theorised by Henry Jenkins, transmedia storytelling involves the telling of ‘stories that unfold across multiple platforms, with each medium making distinctive contributions to our understanding of the storyworld (2006, 334). While the concept of transmediality is often discussed in a twenty-first century context of the media conglomerate, this paper serves to examine an historical occurrence of transmedia storytelling, drawing on the intellectual property of Superman as it appeared across a multitude of media industries throughout the 1940s – that is, on radio, in comics, novels, and theatrical cartoons. This paper examines historical transmediality as an industrial practice formed by licensing agreements, using the Superman intellectual property during this period of Classical Hollywood to demonstrate the ways in which the era’s more peripheral interindustry relationships informed the dominant convergent practices now exploited by contemporary conglomerates. Indeed, while exploring the period’s Superman texts as productions that occurred in the gutter of the very media industries that were paradoxically being used to secure the largest possible distribution for these texts, this paper ultimately highlights how the successful transmediality of the Superman intellectual property during the era of Classical Hollywood – be it on radio, in cinema, in comics, or in novels – rested entirely on its marginalised inter industry position between the independents and the majors.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2015 12:34
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2016 13:28
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