Jan Svelch

Jan Svelch

  • honza@svelch.com
  • Charles University in Prague
  • Institute of Communication Studies and Journalism
Participant in 2014
Work history Journalist (games, music, editing) - Rock&Pop magazine 2006-2008; Forum, Charles University magazine 2007-2013; Komora magazine 2007-2008; Play.cz 2008-2014; Spark magazine since 2009; Filmstage magazine 2012; Level magazine since 2013
Study history Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague – media studies (Master’s degree, 2013) Thesis: Glitch and its social aspects in video game culture
Faculty of Humanities, University of Jyväskylä, communication and media, exchange program (January 2012-May 2012)
Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague – journalism (Bachelor’s degree, 2010) Thesis: The Onion - vanishing differences betweem quasi-journalism and journalism in online media

Phd Projects


Paratexts to nonlinear media texts

The discipline of media studies has over time established three main focuses of its study, so-called three pillars of media studies: texts, audiences and media industries. But this approach has left a vast amount of media ecosystem out of scholarly interest – paratexts. Using the groundwork built by Gérard Genette, I want to explore how audiences use paratexts to nonlinear media texts, particularly video games.
Recently, paratexts received more attention but mostly from the field of screen studies. Even among this small group of scholars, there seems to be no consensus as to what paratexts are and whether they should even be called this way. Some openly reject Genette‘s framework, while others promote it. Most notably, Jonathan Gray calls for off-screen studies, a discipline which should center on various promotional texts, hype and extras.
Despite the increasing interest in paratexts, not much space has been given to methodology and theory. Majority of works on paratexts are built upon close readings of selected paratexts, potential effects on audiences are predicted from various qualities of a given paratext. There seems to be little to no research on actual audiences and their reception and use of paratexts. In my own research, I study audience reactions to paratexts using qualitative content analysis of online comments from various sources. I also plan to complement this method with focus groups.
Considering theory of paratexts, there have been few advancements since Gérard Genette’s influential book. Werner Wolf criticizes the broadness of the term paratext, especially the notion of factual paratexts which allow any background information to pose as a paratext. He proposes a distinction between the textual and the contextual and establishes a new term “framings”. But his aim for terminological clarity has been undermined by ongoing popularity of paratexts in academic texts. Alexander R. Galloway sees the paratextual (or the non-diegetic) as an effect and locates it both inside and outside of the main body of text. His approach therefore allows for diegetic paratexts which play a major part in so-called transmedia storytelling.
My goal is to appropriate current theories on paratexts to paratexts to non-linear media texts, such as video games, and to study how audiences use such paratexts. Based on Espen Aarseth’s influential work on cybertexts, we can assume there will be major differences between paratexts to linear texts and paratexts to non-linear texts, including the way audiences use them and react to them.

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