On Veronica Mars

Story Structure and Veronica Mars

By Geoff Klock

Every time we read a book or watch a movie we bring our experiences to bear on what we are reading or watching. Someone with an aversion to violent imagery, for instance, is likely to declare Kill Bill a bad movie without a thought to any aspect of the film beyond the dismemberment. For those of us with an education in the humanities, assumptions may be more explicit, and come with philosophical backing: gender theory, Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism, formalism, reader response theory, structuralism, deconstruction, post-colonialism, new historicism. For many years my own hobby-horse has been harold Bloom’s poetics of influence, and it still serves me well. These theories, and ones like them, claim to tell us more about our experience of books and movies and music. you thought you knew what Wuthering Heights was about, they say, but let me tell you what it’s really about (class, gender, language, and so on).


Academic ways of looking at literature often add to the sum total of our knowledge, but only rarely (and even then, often accidentally) give us a deeper appreciation of the book we are reading, or the film we are watching. Even worse, many academic approaches lead us to overvalue terribly written but theoretically interesting work. cultural studies may explain how Allen Ginsburg’s Howl can tell us a lot about the climate of the 1960s, but it is nevertheless a very bad poem. One approach to film and television that can affect our appreciation for the better–that can actually offer  …

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