by Jason Mittell

About Jason Mittell

Jason Mittell is Professor of Film and Media Culture and American Studies at Middlebury College. His books include Genre and Television: From Cop Shows to Cartoons in American Culture, Television and American Culture, and Complex Television: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling.


“Genre” is a keyword used broadly outside academia, a concept that seems so widespread and self-evident as to not require detailed analysis. We all know what we mean when we talk about sitcoms or musicals, Westerns or cartoons, right? But what most people probably imagine when they think about genre—the particular programs, films, books, or more generically “texts” referenced by a genre label—is not actually what makes up a genre. Instead, genres are produced by the very process of categorization itself, making the topic more interesting and sophisticated than it might seem.