Skip to main content
Book cover

Podcasting pp 107–122Cite as

Palgrave Macmillan

Invisible Evidence: Serial and the New Unknowability of Documentary

  • 3614 Accesses


Ora uses the first season of Sarah Koenig’s Serial to launch comparisons between 1990s documentary film theory and contemporary claims of ‘post-truth‘ in new media. The politics of testimony and memory, visual proof and its credulity, and, ultimately, the role of narrative voice within online culture contribute to decoding the text and reception of this wildly successful podcast. Ora demonstrates that, just as theorists including Linda Williams heralded the end of the ironclad image with Errol Morris’s The Thin Blue Line, scholars may similarly position Serial as a case study for seismic shifts in non-fiction media and its reception.


These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD   29.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD   37.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Learn about institutional subscriptions


  1. 1.

    When Saturday Night Live parodied Serial, it chose not to take on the case of Adnan Syed and the subject matter of the series, but rather Koenig’s style and tone, as its comedic fodder. Even as interest in the case at hand was certainly at the forefront of audience interest and reception of the series, Koenig’s persona, her profound introductions and interactions with ‘facts’ and opinions, were the emblems of this podcast that would read most clearly to an audience . The resulting sketch, a giggle-worthy Christmas mystery (‘I interviewed Chris, a thousand-year-old toymaker who lives up north…’), mimics Koenig’s approach without any mention of Adnan’s case. Whether we were aware or not, Koenig was the main character in this series.


  • Barthes, R. (1989). The effect of reality. The Rustle of Language (trans: Howard, R.). Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jameson, F. (1992). Postmodernism, or, the cultural logic of late capitalism. Durham: Duke University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Juhasz, A. (2016). Four hard truths about fake news., [Internet]. Accessed 2017.

  • Keenan, T., & Weizman, E. (2012). Mengele’s skull: The advent of a forensic aesthetics. Berlin: Sternberg Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Koenig, S. (2014). Serial. [Podcast]. Episode 1: ‘The Alibi’, Accessed 20 May 2017. Episode 5: ‘Route Talk’, Accessed 20 May 2017. Episode 6: ‘The Case Against Adnan Syed’, Accessed 20 May 2017. Episode 8: ‘The Deal With Jay’, Accessed 20 May 2017. Episode 11: ‘Rumors’, Accessed 20 May 2017. Episode 12: ‘What We Know’, Accessed 20 May 2017.

  • Koenig, S. (2016). Serial. [Podcast]. ‘Adnan Syed’s Hearing: Day 1’. Accessed 20 May 2017.

  • Lyotard, J. F. (1984). The postmodern condition: A report on knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Morris, E. (1988). The Thin Blue Line [Film]. American Playhouse.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nichols, B. (2001). Introduction to documentary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nichols, B. (2008). Documentary reenactment and the Fantasmatic subject. Critical Inquiry, 35, 72–89.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Williams, L. (1993). Mirrors without memories: Truth, history, and the new documentary. Film Quarterly, 46, 9–21.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2018 The Author(s)

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Ora, R. (2018). Invisible Evidence: Serial and the New Unknowability of Documentary. In: Llinares, D., Fox, N., Berry, R. (eds) Podcasting. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics