1.- Interactions between cognitive value and aesthetic properties in contemporary serials
This project involves the investigation of one of the most important aspects of contemporary audiovisual series in terms of their social and cultural impact: their cognitive value. As is well known, television series constitute an extraordinarily popular narrative phenomenon in our times, and they have considerable influence on the ideas and values of viewers, as numerous studies of media psychology have suggested. In fact, there is evidence that an audiovisual fiction narrative can change or shape the ideas and even the habits of its spectators, from their attitudes towards drug use or romantic relationships to their moral values. Yet although the significant cognitive impact of fiction has been clearly established, we do not know much about how that cognitive impact occurs. The aim of our project is to contribute to the clarification of this issue from the perspective of a group of researchers specializing in different aspects of audiovisual narrative. We intend to analyze all aesthetic aspects to which we can attribute a capacity to affect the cognitive value of a series. In this way, the project adopts the innovative perspective of aesthetic interactionism, aimed at highlighting the ways in which the aesthetic properties of the work interact with the cognitive value attributed to it.
The project is therefore based conceptually on one of the most important debates in contemporary aesthetics and aims to contribute to that debate with a perspective drawing from applied aesthetics. Our theoretical basis is the aesthetics of contemporary narrative, with an approach especially open to the contributions that have been made in any field that helps us to understand the phenomenon of the serial narrative in all its richness and specificity, including aesthetics, television studies, narratology, and the cognitive sciences. With this in mind, together with the participation of a select team of researchers specializing in complementary aspects of narrative, our work plan includes contributions by international experts from all disciplinary fields of interest in both the humanities and the sciences.
The project thus has the following general objectives:
- To investigate the interactions between specific aesthetic properties of seriality (e.g. multi-plot architecture and long-term character engagement strategies) and cognitive value.
- To investigate the interactions between non-specific aesthetic properties of seriality (e.g. production design, art direction, casting, locations, filming techniques, sound and postproduction) and cognitive value.
- To make a critical map of cognitive value in contemporary seriality.
In order to focus our research on a relevant corpus that includes contemporary series of cultural impact (produced since the year 2000), and to promote collaboration among project members, our objectives are distributed into four categories: political thrillers and dystopia series (which present cognitive content of a social nature), and drama and initiation narratives (with cognitive content of an individual and existential nature).