UDE ALUS Symposium 2019 Abstracts

Maria Sulimma (UDE) Simultaneity versus Seriality: The Conflicting Temporality and Locality of Television’s Urban Chase

Even though simultaneity is a shared circumstance of not only urban life but also digital media environments, serial storytelling struggles to accommodate the affordances of simultaneity in its connected temporal and local particularities. Serialized television especially searches for narrative techniques to adequately explore the ‘meanwhile’ or ‘elsewhere’ alongside the ‘next’ and ‘previously on.’ The paper turns to scenes and plots of chasing through urban spaces as a compelling illustration of the challenges and possibilities that urban simultaneity poses for fictional serial storytelling, particularly in audiovisual media. Serving various narrative purposes, shows like Killing Eve (BBC 3, 2018) or Broad City (Comedy Central, 2014-) depict characters hunting through the cityscape after a person, object, or experience. A gendered take on the quest for clues of detective fiction – turned ad absurdum by postmodern writers such as Thomas Pynchon or Paul Auster, these chase scenes not only demonstrate the multiplicity of city life in a simultaneous fashion but also the selective motors of serial storytelling: as some narrative threads are followed, others are left dangling discarded in the hustle of the city.

Maria Sulimma is an American Studies scholar working in the intersecting areas of cultural studies, urban studies, feminist media studies, and gender studies. Based at the University Duisburg-Essen, she is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Kolleg “Scripts for Postindustrial Urban Futures: American Models, Transatlantic Interventions.” Prior to this, she was a member of the Popular Seriality Research Unit at the John F. Kennedy-Institute for North American Studies (Freie Universität Berlin) where she concluded her dissertation "Serial Gender, Gendered Serialities: Practices of US-American Television Narratives in the 21st Century” in 2018. Her current research traces decidedly urban pastimes of the 19th and 21st century with an eye for the ‘politics of prioritization’ they continue to further.