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Nostalgia and post-2005 British time travel dramas: A semiotic analysis of a television genre cycle

Garner, Ross 2013. Nostalgia and post-2005 British time travel dramas: A semiotic analysis of a television genre cycle. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis contributes to existing debates concerning television, nostalgia and genre. Drawing upon social constructionist approaches, the thesis theorises nostalgia as a discourse that is constructed through specific social, historical, cultural and, relating to television, institutional contexts. The thesis extends Paul Grainge’s (2000a, 2002) work on nostalgic modes and combines it with Catherine Johnson’s (2005) analysis of television series’ textual strategies to propose an analytical framework examining individual case studies that locate constructions of nostalgia within specific production context(s). This involves considering how such factors as individual channel remits (e.g. public service or commercial), imagined target audiences and scheduling concerns impact upon nostalgic discourses articulated through a programme’s narrative and generic strategies. These ideas are examined through employing textual analysis and extending Richard Nowell’s (2011) industrially-focused conceptualisation of genre cycles’ historical development to television, focusing upon post-2005 British time travel dramas and providing in-depth case studies of Doctor Who, Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, Lost in Austen. Through adopting a textualist focus, this thesis re-engages debates concerning structured polysemy (Morley 1992, 1996) and, by demonstrating the multiple preferred reading positions that post-2005 British time travel dramas construct, proposes the concept of layered polysemy. Layered polysemy suggests that constructions of nostalgia are readable through multiple imagined audience discourses as a result of their articulation in ‘coalition’ programmes designed to simultaneously attract multiple distinct and divergent audience niches arising from their position on mainstream broadcast channels in UK (BBC1 and ITV1). Layered polysemy constitutes a midpoint between textual determinism and arguments demonstrating myriad audience readings, sitting alongside arguments concerning television series’ ‘aesthetics of multiplicity’ (Ross 2008, Johnson 2012) but rejects the latter’s focus upon material and/or cultural sites external to the programmes themselves. Layered polysemy therefore complements wider arguments arising from this thesis regarding the retention of broadcast culture discourses within contemporary Television Studies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Funders: Departmental Scholarship in Cultural Studies
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 04:58

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