The Serial podcast has taken over my attention in the last several weeks.
I’ve been fascinated by the personal, rhetorical, and digital components of this story: the difference between Sarah Koenig’s and Rabia Chaudry’s motivations, their personal attachments (and professional attempts at detachment) to the case, the engagement of online communities around the story (specifically on Twitter, Reddit, and the Serial web portal), and the story’s intersection with my own professional and personal identity. I am a professor of English in the Digital Writing and New Media department at Southern Polytechnic State University, teaching classes and researching how digital environments affect how we teach, write, and learn. Also because my closest friend since 1992 is named Adnan; his family is also from Pakistan. So, yeah, I’m hooked on Serial.
As students and citizens of the web, we have to remember that any media endeavor or knowledge-producing activity has its own narrative, its own argument. What I feel like I have to offer the unfolding Serial narrative, of which the podcast is just the nucleus, is an attention to metanarrative — the story of the construction of Serial and how engagement of a active audience impacts the story (already Slate and Rolling Stone are working similar angles). For me, unpacking the metanarrative starts with Rabia, whose weekly blog posts respond to the show.
I’ve reached out to Rabia on Twitter and over video chat about her involvement with Sarah’s team, her commitment to the case, and her activist work in Muslim communities. I am interested in exploring how new media engagement affects narrative and knowledge, and Serial presented an fertile ground in which to ask those questions. Rabia has agreed to talk to weekly about her experience of being listening to and responding to the show. Our conversations will be broadcast Mondays on Google Hangout at 1pmEST. To learn more and receive links to the live conversations, you can follow me on Twitter or participate in the #serialnarrative hashtag.
Read Rabia Chaudry’s description of the project on her post “Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About.”
Read and watch “Conversations on the Serial Podcast: One.”
Read and watch “Conversations on the Serial Podcast: Two.”