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Jan-Noël Thon

Assistant Professor in Media Studies and Digital Media Culture, Faculty of Arts

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Expertise Summary

I am primarily interested in the theory and analysis of narrative across media (in films, television series, comics, and video games), the forms and functions of transmedia franchises in digital media culture (mostly with regard to authorship, world-building, and fan practices), and the interdisciplinary study of video games (combining close analyses of their aesthetic, ludic, and narrative aspects with methods from production and audience studies). My current research explores narrative complexity in independent video games, different dimensions of multimodality across media, and transmedial characters in digital media culture.

My recent book Transmedial Narratology and Contemporary Media Culture (University of Nebraska Press, 2016) develops a theoretical frame and a method for the comparative analysis of narratively complex films, comics, and video games, examining strategies for the intersubjective construction of storyworlds as well as prototypical forms of narratorial and subjective representation in a variety of canonical narrative works in these media.

I have also edited a number of books on the ways in which media can convey subjectivity (Subjectivity across Media: Interdisciplinary and Transmedial Perspectives, Routledge, 2017, co-edited with Maike Sarah Reinerth), on game studies as an interdisciplinary field (Game Studies: Aktuelle Ansätze der Computerspielforschung , Herbert von Halem, 2015, co-edited with Klaus Sachs-Hombach), on the theory and analysis of narrative across media (Storyworlds across Media: Toward a Media-Conscious Narratology, University of Nebraska Press, 2014, co-edited with Marie-Laure Ryan), and on the theory and history of graphic narratives (From Comic Strips to Graphic Novels: Contributions to the Theory and History of Graphic Narrative, De Gruyter, 2013/2015, co-edited with Daniel Stein).

PhD supervision: I am interested in supervising research students working on video games, transmedial franchises, fan culture, or any aspect of narrative across media (particularly in film, television series, comics, and games).

Teaching Summary

My teaching interests are in media studies and digital media culture with a focus on game studies, narrative across media, and processes of media convergence in the context of transmedia franchises.… read more

Research Summary

My research generally focuses on the theory and analysis of narrative across media (in films, television series, comics, and video games), the forms and functions of transmedia franchises in digital… read more

Selected Publications

My teaching interests are in media studies and digital media culture with a focus on game studies, narrative across media, and processes of media convergence in the context of transmedia franchises. Independently of specific topics, I pursue a form of research-based teaching that is designed to facilitate active student learning.

At the Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies, I currently teach in the following modules (2018-2019):

  • V91TEC/V91TC1 Communication and Technology
  • V92REC Researching Culture, Film and Media
  • V94064 Technology and the Transformations of Communication
  • W530UD Video Games

I am interested in supervising research students working on video games, transmedia franchises, fan culture, or any aspect of narrative across media (particularly in film, television series, comics, and games).

Current Research

My research generally focuses on the theory and analysis of narrative across media (in films, television series, comics, and video games), the forms and functions of transmedia franchises in digital media culture (mostly with regard to authorship, world-building, and fan practices), and the interdisciplinary study of video games (combining close analyses of their aesthetic, ludic, and narrative aspects with methods from production and audience studies). I am interested in supervising research students working on video games, transmedia franchises, fan culture, or any aspect of narrative across media (particularly in film, television series, comics, and games).

I am a member of the Centre for Critical Theory, the Centre for Contemporary East Asian Cultural Studies, and the Institute for Screen Industries Research. Moreover, I am currently involved in the following research projects:

Indie Games and Narrative Complexity This ongoing book project examined different forms of narrative complexity in a range of independent video games such as Bastion, Gone Home, Night in the Woods, That Dragon, Cancer, The Stanley Parable, or What Remains of Edith Finch. Having grown of a more general interest in transmedial narratology and game studies as an interdisciplinary field, the project aims to combine close analyses of the narrative strategies that these games employ, interviews with game designers, and questionnaire-based inquiries into player responses.

Transmedia Characters Co-authored with Roberta Pearson, this ongoing book project develops a theoretical frame as well as a comprehensive method for the analysis of transmedia characters as well as the production and reception discourses that surround them. The book focuses on the franchises of Sherlock Holmes, Batman, Star Trek, and Tomb Raider, while also comparing and contrasting these with other franchises were appropriate.

Game Studies as an Interdisciplinary Field Building on a conceptualization of game studies as an interdisciplinary field that employs methods from cultural studies as well as from the social sciences and is concerned with technological as well as design problems, this ongoing network project aims to provide theoretical foundations and methodological reflections for interdisciplinary research on video games that brings together scholars from game design, social sciences, and cultural studies.

Medial Reflections: Threat Communication and the US-American Order after the Attacks of 9/11 (07/2015-06/2019, German Research Foundation/Collaborative Research Center 923, 603,800.- €) This interdisciplinary research project, which is funded by the German Research Foundation as part of the Collaborative Research Center 923 "Threatened Order-Societies under Stress" at the University of Tübingen, Germany, looks at the threat communication spawned by the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Drawing on methods from media studies and historiography, the project explores the roles different media play(ed) in diagnosing real or imagined threat scenarios in the context of the "war on terror."

Multimodality in Convergent Media Culture (01/2016-12/2017, German Research Foundation/Excellence Initiative, 80,000.- €) This exploratory project, which is funded by the German Research Foundation via the "Excellence Initiative" at the University of Tübingen, Germany, examines the changing forms and functions of multimodality in convergent media culture. While the concept of multimodality is commonly used to refer to the address of different senses (mostly visual and auditive) and/or the combination of different "semiotic resources" (such as pictures, gestures, written language, spoken language, music, sound, etc.) the project has moved toward a more expansive conceptualization of multimodality that includes more than just perceptual and semiotic aspects. Core areas of inquiry are multimodality and mediality, narrative modes, modes of referentiality, and modes of participation.

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