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Type: Theses
Title: The subject of television: a methodology of subject-oriented textual analysis
Author: Edwards, Jessica Louise
Issue Date: 2017
School/Discipline: School of Social Sciences
Abstract: This thesis approaches televisual texts and the scholarly practice of textual analysis via the politics of subjectivity. Because subjects are formed in symbolic and representational systems that pre-exist them, subjectivity is an inherently political phenomenon, bound up in questions of power relations and meaning. Televisual texts, it is argued, form part of these representational systems; however, texts can also be understood as being created in the viewing encounter, as subjects imbue objects in their field of vision with meaning. This mutual indebtedness of subject and text indicates that textual analysis can also be seen as an inherently politicised form of scholarship. Drawing on the theoretical frameworks of Lacanian psychoanalysis and Foucauldian poststructuralism, this thesis begins by arguing that images, gazes, and visual experience are both beholden to and constitutive of subjectivity. The key themes from this discussion of subjectivity – visual history, spectatorship, intersubjectivity – are then proposed as key questions for an approach to televisual textual analysis called subject-oriented textual analysis. This approach provides opportunities for textual analysis distinct from psychoanalytic film theory, which cannot be imported wholesale to television, reception studies, or modes of cultural studies that use texts to diagnose social phenomena, having texts “stand in” for audiences. Situated within media studies' recent “return to the text,” this approach therefore treats texts as ends in themselves while maintaining the political commitments of subjectivity and cultural studies. Subject-oriented textual analysis understands both texts and subjects as produced via processes of meaning-making, as subjects draw on already existing scopic regimes to make visual phenomena meaningful. Textual analysis that understands textual meaning as indebted to processes of subjectivity therefore must engage with questions of power relations, gazes and spectatorship, the history of visual culture, materiality, and intersubjectivity. Such meanings, moreover, are form and content-specific, so a subject-oriented textual analysis requires textual analysis with sensitivity to form and the ways in which televisual meanings are specifically televisual. The approach developed in this thesis is therefore one that examines televisual texts but takes as its primary focus processes of subjectivity. In order to demonstrate the usefulness of such an approach the bulk of the thesis is devoted to four case studies, covering makeover television, Australian tabloid current affairs television, and the dramatic narrative television series The Wire and Treme. In addition to psychoanalysis, Foucauldian theory, and television studies, these case studies critically engage with a wide range of cultural and political theory including postcolonial theories of the other, neoliberalism, the public sphere, emotions and empathy research, trauma and tourism studies, and the Levinasian ethics of the face. Drawing on these domains of enquiry, the subject-oriented textual analysis developed in this thesis contributes original analyses of television texts to the field of television studies and provides fresh insights to the study of mediated and political subjectivities.
Advisor: Johnson, Carol Ann
Beasley, Christine
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Social Sciences, 2017.
Keywords: media
textual analysis
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
DOI: 10.4225/55/591cec9178279
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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