Bio

Photo by Dallas Curow

Photo by Dallas Curow

Andrew deWaard is a graduate of the Cinema and Media Studies PhD program at the Theater, Film and Television department at the University of California, Los Angeles. His co-authored book entitled The Cinema of Steven Soderbergh: indie sex, corporate lies and digital videotape was published by Columbia University Press/Wallflower in 2013. His articles have appeared in Cinephile and IASPM@Journal, and he has chapters in multiple anthologies, including Habitus of the ’Hood, The Philosophy of Steven Soderbergh, Fight the Power!: The Spike Lee Reader, and The Business of Entertainment: Popular Music. He has presented at multiple conferences across North America and Europe, including the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, the Canadian Communications Association, and the Film Studies Association of Canada.

His research interests exhibit an interdisciplinary combination of media studies, political economy, and critical theory applied to the film, television, and popular music industries. With a graduate certificate in the Digital Humanities from UCLA, he employs a computational and cultural data-centered approach to his humanistic inquiries. His specific research focuses include: the cultural industries, financial capital, media concentration, cultural capital, authorship, and intertextuality.

Photo by Dallas Curow

Photo by Dallas Curow

Andrew’s dissertation is entitled “Derivative Media: The Financialization of Film, Television, and Popular Music, 2004-2016,” and traces the entrance of the financial industries – particularly private equity firms, corporate venture capital, and institutional investors – along with their corresponding financial logic and labor, into the film, television, and music industries from 2004-2016. Financialization – the growing influence of financial markets and instruments – is premised on highly-leveraged debt, labor efficiencies, and short-term profits; this project argues that it is transforming cultural production into a highly consolidated industry with rising inequality, further decreasing the diversity and heterogeneity it could provide the public sphere. In addition to charting this historical and industrial shift, this project analyzes the corresponding textual transformation, in which cultural products behave according to financial logic, becoming sites of capital formation where references, homages, and product placements form internal economies. The concept of ‘derivative media’ I employ to capture this phenomenon contains a double meaning: increasingly, the production process of popular culture ‘derives’ new content from old (sequels, adaptations, franchises, remakes, references, homages, sampling, etc), just as the economic logic behind contemporary textuality behaves like a ‘derivative,’ a financial instrument to hedge risk. As we witnessed during the financial crash in 2007-2008, the derivative dismantles or unbundles any asset into individual attributes and trades them without trading the asset itself, in contracts such as futures, forwards, options, and swaps. This project demonstrates how cultural texts employ a similar ‘derivative’ logic, using intertextuality as a financial strategy, not just to sell products through brand integrations, but to maintain domination over the cultural sector through an interconnected referential economy. Through textual analysis and case studies, I explore the formal and interpretative implications that this financial shift has on cultural texts, arguing that popular digital media texts function as unbundled, risk-hedging derivatives through which capital accumulates in diversified cultural hedge funds operated by a handful of transnational media corporations. Utilizing a methodology combining political economy, data mining and visualization, ethnographic fieldwork, and textual analysis, this dissertation argues that financialization is a little-understood, yet profoundly transformative – and often destructive – force within the cultural industries.

Andrew is also the co-investigator of the UCIRA-funded collaborative research project called “The Cultural Capital Project: Radical Monetization of the Music Industry” that explores the historical antecedents, theoretical trajectories, legal ramifications, and technical components involved in the creation of a non-profit patronage system and social network uniting musical artists and fans. The system will harvest user-generated data of listening and sharing habits and then use an algorithm to allocate equitable compensation via distributed micropayment. Incorporating the multitude of individuals who propel the cultural industries with their creative labour, including fans, photographers, artists, labels, and others, the Cultural Capital project aims to establish a ‘radical monetization’ of the music industry based on equity, connectivity, and sharing.

He is the recipient of a Chancellor’s Fellowship from UCLA and a Doctoral Fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. His most recent awards include the Otis Ferguson Memorial Award in Critical Writing from UCLA, a Student Writing Award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, and the Jack K. Sauter Award from UCLA. He earned his M.A. in Film Studies from the University of British Columbia and his B.A. in Media, Information and Technoculture and Film Studies from the University of Western Ontario.