Linda Williams in her book on the "Wire" makes a concerted argument that the Wire--she concurs in praising it--should not be considered as a tragedy (which she thinks rarely applies to modern conditions) but as a melodrama. For Williams, melodrama is the modern genre par excellence. Her book is an attempt to ennoble it as it were. The key ingredient might be called Utopian imagination that something else is possible (a la Jameson), or hope. The brilliance of the Wire is to keep hope alive as it were but not to instantiate it.
You can listen to Professor Rabinow talk on Robert Pogue Harrison's Entitled Opinion's Podcast, here: http://www.stanford.edu/dept/fren-ital/opinions/rabinow.html
Our Own impersonal demons: moving through the anthropology of the contemporary
Other voices, other rooms
Todd Meyers 
In his book The Scientific Life, Steven Shapin notes that while mid-century sociologists of science worried about the impact of teamwork on the essential virtues of the scientist, laboratory managers and scientists themselves saw the scientific team as a practical problem rather than a moral crisis of truth and individuality. Part of the reason for the discrepancy, Shapin suggests, is that the academic critics assimilated the scientific team to military command and control models, while industrial research manners were far less certain about what kind of social form it was.
In yesterday's class, Professor Steven Feld presented his works, from the bird songs of New Guinea to the bells of Europe to the jazz of Ghana. After a long and fruitful conversation, Feld described an important principle/technique of his work which he described as “amplification”. He suggested that on many registers (anthropological, epistemological, political, aesthetic) we can think about intervening in sites by trying to amplify the sounds, discourses, practices, disputes occuring in those sites.