The Paratext's the Thing

Excerpt from "The Paratext's the Thing" The Chronicle of Higher Education, January , 2014

"Jennifer Gillan, a professor of English and media studies at Bentley University and the author of Television and New Media: Must Click TV (Routledge, 2011), has also traded the exegesis of name-brand shows for an interest in network branding. Gillan's forthcoming book on the Disney Channel—tentatively titled Television Brandcasting—looks at the cable platform of the Mouse House as a continuous flow of Disneyfied content, a pubescent vortex where every nanosecond of air time is orchestrated to suck in the target demo, where the shows (which celebrate all things Disney) glide seamlessly into paratexts (ditto) and back, 24/7.

To the sorcerers behind the Magic Kingdom, the interchangeable doe-eyed cherubs starring in sitcoms like Austin & Ally and Liv and Maddie matter not: The Disney channel holds out an e-ticket to an Uncle Walt world that is bigger, longer-running, and more all-­encompassing than any single program. "The shows are really dumb," Gillan told me, half-jokingly, after a year of getting in touch with her inner tween, "but the paratexts are fascinating." The Society for Cinema and Media Studies shares the fascination: Gillan, Grainge, and Gray are scheduled to be part of a panel entitled "Producing Paratexts for Contemporary Film, Television, and Media" at its annual conference, in Seattle in March 2014."