Saturday, June 30, 2012


Well, as promised, I finished up my immediate work on Haunted Nerves today, the end of a three-week stretch. I wanted to get as much done as I could before July came, which brings two more projects with imminent deadlines: a book review, and finishing the Paul Thomas Anderson manuscript for UT. The window in time that just passed to beef up my digital cinema project was small.

Even though I have no intention of trying to shop Haunted Nerves around until next summer at the earliest, I wanted to get deeper into it than I was before going back on the job market in the fall. I wanted to feel more comfortable talking about it with prospective search committees, and I wanted them to know that--for tenure-track purposes--the project will be close to conclusion in the relative near future.

The bad news is that I didn't quite finish the chapter I wanted to originally, "Lost Track of Time." The good news is that in the process of writing that chapter I discovered that I was working on two separate chapters on the digital cinema and nostalgia: the "new nostalgia" 20s  films (Hugo, Artist, Midnight in Paris, etc.) and the transmedia blockbuster--TRON being my primary focus. Basically, they are all part of this larger "nostalgia film" trend in the digital age, but I realized that--aside from the logistical problems of sheer length--it was easier to take the pastiche of the 1920s films, and the 1980s nostalgia of the modern event film blockbuster, separately.

Basically the revelation I had yesterday was that there's so much I want to say about the history of the TRON franchise that it will literally be enough for its own chapter. Plus, I suspect they'll make good bookends to the larger project when the time comes.

So, at this point, I have one whole new 20+ page first draft of a chapter more or less finished on the former ("1920s-ness")--though I want to do a lot more with The Artist later, and do more research on the industrial histories of all three films. I also have a sinking feeling that its missing a proper conclusion. In all, there's probably at least another 10-15 pages or so there still to be written.

I also have a chapter--about as long, but less polished and generally disorganized at the moment, on TRON and what I'm calling "nostalgia in the age of transmedia storytelling." I have about as much material here in this one as in the other chapter, but I don't have anywhere near the amount of research done on TRON's paratextual universe that I will get to later. Plus, this will give me the chance eventually to revisit Fan Studies, which I wanted to do somewhere in Haunted Nerves. So its just 20 pages of thoughts about the topic more so than a first draft of a chapter, like the other one is. And I'd guess there's another 15 pages to go on this one too.

So, a lot of quality work done, even though my goals shifted during the process--Haunted Nerves is really coming into clear focus, in ways I didn't even anticipate as recently as the start of the summer. In all, I pumped out about 13K words the last couple of weeks on Haunted Nerves--mostly those two chapters but also a lot of material for a possible introductory chapter.

Bring on July--back to Paul Thomas Anderson and one last mad dash through that manuscript, or at least the last time I will be able to make any significant revisions, such as the new intro, which is the main thing. So, expect a lot about PTA here on the blog in the next month as I work in particular on bringing that project's larger goals beyond authorship into focus.


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