Many contemporary television series from Modern Family to How to
Get Away with Murder open an episode or season with a conflict and
then go back in time to show how that conflict came to be. In
Figures of Time Toni Pape examines these narratives, showing how
these leaps in time create aesthetic experiences of time that
attune their audiences to the political doctrine of preemption-a
logic that justifies preemptive action to nullify a perceived
future threat. Examining questions of temporality in Life on Mars,
the political ramifications of living under the auspices of a
catastrophic future in FlashForward, and how Damages disrupts the
logic of preemption, Pape shows how television helps shift
political culture away from a model of rational deliberation and
representation toward a politics of preemption and conformity.
Exposing the mechanisms through which television supports a
fear-based politics, Pape contends, will allow for the rechanneling
of television's affective force into building a more productive and
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