If there is one common thread joining my various research activities together, it’s an interest in moments of transition and the dynamics that accompany them. These dynamics range from attempts to contain the new (often in the measure of the old) to embraces of its perceived potentials, and they play out in terms of textual conventions, discursive positioning, and audience expectations and response. I’ve tended to approach this nexus of issues through several specific lines of inquiry, outlined below. Individual articles or projects tend to overlap with one another, and bits of arguments and data sometimes reappear, integrated into subsequent arguments. Through it all, there is a recurrent interest in history, as set of past events and as a perspective on that past, that I am eager to interrogate. I’m particularly interested in how we know about the past, the terms and evidence we use to come to terms with it, and the ways that our questions offer insights into the present and shape the future. While ‘media archaeology’ brings with it some implications that I tend to shy away from, much of my work fits easily within that rubric.
The television section follows, and there are more sections to come — early film…; cultural dynamics…; identity…; and media historiography among them.
Television’s past, present and future: No small part of my work has been concerned with the deep history television and the ‘televisual’. Although my interests are pretty broad, they tend to converge on four areas:
The early history of television and its intermedial relations: Here, I argue that television’s genealogy owes more to the telephone and telegraph than visual storage systems such as photography and film. I argue, in fact, that television preceded film both as a concept and technology (albeit an inadequate one). Its conceptual imprint can be found in many aspects of the film medium’s first decade, and there is a profound linkage between some of those earliest notions and the futures of television that still can be found within our imaginary. One of television’s most fascinating aspects is its shape-shifting ability and its complicated relations to other media forms. Its intermedial character serves as a useful heuristic tool with which to interrogate the medium’s own definitional limits and its impact on sister media.
William Uricchio, “Télévision: l’institutionnalisation de l’intermédialité” in Mireille Berton et Anne-Katrin Weber (eds.) La télévision du Téléphonoscope à YouTube. Pour une archéologie de l’audiovision (Lausanne: Éditions Antipodes, 2009)
William Uricchio, “Phantasia and Techné at the Fin-de-Siècle,” Intermédialités: histoire et théorie des arts, des lettres et des techniques (fall 2006)
William Uricchio, Media, Simultaneity, Convergence: Culture and Technology in an Age of Intermediality. Monograph (Utrecht: Universiteit Utrecht, 1997) [portions also appear as William Uricchio, “Zaznam, simultaneita a medialni technologie modernity,” in Petr Szczepanik, ed., Nova Filmova Historie: Antyologie soucasneho mysleni o dejinach kinematografie a ausiovizualni kultury (Praha: Nakladatelstvi Herrmann & synove, 2004): 452-471; and as William Uricchio, “Medien, Simultaneität, Konvergenz. Kultur und Technologie im Zeitalter von Intermedialität,” in R. Adelmann, J.-O. Hesse, J. Keilbach, M. Stauff, M. Thiele, eds., Grundlagentexte zur Fernsehwissenschaft (Cologne: UVK Verlagsgesellschaft, 2002): 281-310]
William Uricchio, ”La place de la télévision dans l’horizon d’attente du XIXe siècle,“ Dossiers de l’audiovisuel Nr 112 (2003): 19-22.
William Uricchio, La reve de la simultanéité, Dossiers de l’audiovisuel Nr 112 (2003): 35-37.
William Uricchio, “There’s More to the Camera’s Obscura Than Meets the Eye,” in Francois Albera, Marta Braun, and Andre Gaudreault, eds., Arrêt sur image et fragmentation du temps / Stop Motion, Fragmentation of Time (Lausanne: Cinema Editions Payot, 2002): 103-120
William Uricchio, “Old Media as New Media: Television,” in Dan Harries, The New Media Book (London: British Film Institute, 2002): 219-230
William Uricchio, “Intermedial Challenges to Television’s Definition,” in Ib Bondebjerg and Helle Haastrup, eds., Intertextuality &Visual Media [Sekvens 99: Arborg for Film- & Medievidenskab 1999] (Copenhagen: IFM, 1999): 171-183
William Uricchio, “Storage, simultaneity, and the media technologies of modernity” in Jan Olsson and John Fullerton, eds., Allegories of Communication: Intermedial Concerns from Cinema to the Digital, (Eastleigh: John Libbey, 2004): 123- 138; reprinted in A. Herzog, L. Nijenhof, N. Noorman, N. Vink, What’s New? Essays over het belang van de nieuwe media voor de beeldende kunst (Groningen: Academie Minerva, 1999): 33-51.
William Uricchio, “The Trouble With Television,” Screening the Past: An International Electronic Journal of Visual Media and History 4 (1998) http://www.latrobe.edu.au/screeningthepast/firstrelease/fir998/WUfr4b.htm.
William Uricchio, “Television, Film, and the Struggle for Media Identity,” Film History, An International Journal 10:2 (1998): 118-127.
William Uricchio, “Cinema as Detour? Towards a reconsideration of moving image technology in the late 19th century,” in K. Hickethier, E. Muller, R. Rother, (Hg.), Der Film in der Geschichte (Berlin: Edition Sigma, 1997): 19-25.
William Uricchio, “Cinema als Omweg: Een nieuwe kijk op de geschiedenis van het bewegende beeld,” Skrien 199: 54-57 (1994).
Television in Germany during the Nazi era is a site of deep interest. First, the medium was deployed on a daily basis and institutionalized for distinctly different (and competing) purposes – as extension of the telephone, as radio-like (domestic, ambient), as film-like (collective public viewing, event driven), and as telepresence (military deployments). Second, extensive records are available so that the interaction of the corporate, governmental, and military partners in the medium’s development can be examined (unlike the US or UK). Third, for a number of reasons, television’s history was deeply contested on both sides of divided Germany, providing self-serving evidence to ideologues East and West and reflecting the divided national archives. As an example for the construction of media history, it doesn’t get any better than this!
William Uricchio, “Formierung und Transformation des frühen deutschen Fernsehens,” montage/av Zeitschrift für Theorie & Geschichte audiovisueller Kommunikation 1/2005: 97-115.
William Uricchio, “Reflections on a Forgotten Past: Early German Television as a History of Absences” in TeleVisionen. Historiografien des Fernsehens,” Oesterreichische Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaften 12: 4 (2001): 42 -59.
William Uricchio, “Envisioning the Audience: perceptions of early German television’s public, 1935-1944” in E-VIEW: een elektronisch magazine over theater, film, televisie & digitale media (1999) 1:1 http://comcom.kub.nl/e-view/99-1/uric.htm
William Uricchio, “Television as History: Representations of German Television Broadcasting, 1935-1944,” in Framing the Past: The Historiography of German Cinema and Television, edited by Bruce Murray and Christopher Wickham (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992): 167-196.
William Uricchio, “Einleitung,” “Fernsehen als Geschichte: Die Darstellung des deutschen Fernsehens zwischen 1935 und 1944,” and “BIOS Endbericht # 867: Fernsehentwicklung und Anwendung in Deutschland,” in W. Uricchio, ed., Die Anfange des deutschen Fernsehens: Kritische Annaherungen an die Entwicklung bis 1945 (Tubingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1991).
William Uricchio, “High-definition Television, Big Screen Television and Television-guided Missiles: British Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee Report # 867,” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 10:3 (1990): 339-343.
William Uricchio, “Introduction to the History of German Television, 1935-1944,” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 10:2 (1990): 115-122.
William Uricchio, “Rituals of Reception, Patterns of Neglect: Nazi Television and its Historical Representation,” Wide Angle, 11:1 (1989): 48-66.
William Uricchio and Winston, B., “The Anniversary Stakes,” co-authored with Brian Winston, Sight and Sound, 55:4 (1986)
William Uricchio, Die Anfänge des deutschen Fernsehens: Kritische Annäherungen an die Entwicklung bis 1945. Editor. (Tubingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1991)
Television’s periodization and its futures Its past offers extremely salient insights. Today’s anxieties over DVR technologies such as TiVo can usefully be explored by reflecting on the parallel fears that accompanied the introduction of the remote control (‘the ad silencer’) and the VCR. YouTube offers a good way to consider likely trends in IPTV programming and use. And generally speaking, the long durée of the medium’s development offers a useful stance from which to read recurrent interests and drives in its development. I’m interested as much in the medium’s continuities as in its differences. Clustered in generations or periods, these differences range from technology to interface to industries to use, and yet through it all, even in the midst of a radical reconfiguration, television as a vague concept persists.
William Uricchio, “The Future of Television?” in Pelle Snikkars and Patrick Vonderau, ed., The You Tube Reader (London: Wallflower Press, 2009): 24-39
William Uricchio, “Television’s First Seventy-Five Years: The Interpretive Flexibility of a Medium in Transition,” The Oxford Handbook of Film and Media Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008): 286–305
William Uricchio, “Television’s next generation: technology / interface culture / flow,” in Lynn Spigel and Jan Olsson, eds., Television After TV: Essays on a Medium in Transition, (Durham: Duke, 2004): 232-261
William Uricchio, “Contextualizing the broadcast era: nation, commerce and constraint” in Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 2009
William Uricchio, “En sammensatt identitet: Fjernsynets skiftende innretning” in Roel Puijk, ed., Fjernsyn I Digitale Omgivelser (Kristiansand NW: Forlaget, 2008): 51–66
Television as time machine…. I’m fascinated by television’s ability to display multiple temporalities, shifting between the recorded and live, overlapping them with increasing regularity, and constantly reframing program segments into new contexts. The implications for meaning and cultural memory are central concerns, and the idea of heterochronia together with filmic notions of montage have offered useful entry points. This is an area of new work, much of it forthcoming.
William Uricchio, “TV as Time Machine: television’s changing heterochronic regimes and the production of history” in Jostein Gripsrud, ed., Relocating Television (NY: Routledge, forthcoming)
William Uricchio, “Television studies shifting disciplinary status: Anglo-American developments,” in H. Schanze and P. Ludes (Hrsg)., Qualitative Perspektiven des Medienwandels: Positionen der Medienwissenschaft im Kontext ‘Neuer Medien’ (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1997): 80-94.