Media contexts of narrative design: dimensions of specificity within storytelling industries

Smith, Anthony N. (2013) Media contexts of narrative design: dimensions of specificity within storytelling industries. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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While many comparative studies reveal how a given medium determines narrative in ways distinct from others, I uniquely consider within this thesis the highly variable structure of a single given medium and the resultant implications for storyworlds and their presentations. Focusing upon the production of serial narrative within multiple media, I map the intricate processes by which cultural industries inform narrative diversity. Through the introduction of my dimensions of specificity model, I account for diachronically- and synchronically-variable conditions of narrative design within a given medium, revealing the complex interactions between media and narrative that are frequently overlooked. Via the model, I identify the ways in which narrative design processes are, within a medium, specific to the historically changeable configurations of a particular market. I examine in tum how, within a given market, these narrative design processes are further specific to the particular requirements of an intended audience, the particular technologies of production, distribution and consumption, and the particular economic strategy and production culture of a commissioning media institution.

Chapter one historicises the project by exploring the relevance of this model to nineteenth-century British literary-serial fiction; it takes into account the ramifications to narrative of contrasting specificities within markets, audiences, institutions and technologies of the Victorian era. The remaining three chapters each consider in depth a single dimension of specificity in relation to a particular contemporary US media industry. Chapter two analyses the dimension of institutional specificity within the context of US television; it distinguishes between the economic models of network, basic cable and premium cable institutions, gauging the unique implications of each system to the narrative design processes of primetime drama series. Chapter three investigates the contingency of narrative upon the dimension of audience specificity within the US comic-book industry; it examines how publishers' endeavours to court audiences beyond their dedicated niche-readership have impacted upon writing and illustrating practices. Chapter four charts the significance of the dimension of technological specificity to narratives within the videogame home-console market; it explores the connections between an industrially enforced technological-upgrade culture and the ongoing development of story-driven videogame series. Through this tracing of the variable ways by which cultural industries can influence storyworlds and their presentations, I provide with this thesis a necessarily nuanced understanding of the relationship between narrative and media.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Evans, E.J.
Pearson, R.
Keywords: creative nonfiction, storytelling, mass media
Subjects: P Language and literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Item ID: 28824
Depositing User: Hatton, Mrs Kirsty
Date Deposited: 12 May 2015 10:48
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 22:57

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