Contested genre: locating US fantasy television in genre discourses

O'Dette, Katarina (2023) Contested genre: locating US fantasy television in genre discourses. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Over the past two decades, fantasy has gone from an intermittent presence on United States television screens to one of its most popular genres. Despite this prevalence, there remains a persistent gap in the literature surrounding research on the televisual fantasy genre, with researchers claiming that the notoriously nebulous boundaries of fantasy complicate or even invalidate its study. This thesis argues that this contestation is in fact a core component, not just of fantasy, but of genre itself. Rather than considering genre a textual construct, I follow on from Jason Mittell’s work to view genre primarily as a cultural construct that is expressed discursively. The thesis conceives of different groups within the US television industry as genre stakeholders, each with their own investment in the idea of genre more generally and fantasy specifically. Through their discourses, these stakeholders express differing definitions and impressions based on their unique investments in a particular genre, creating, responding to, and perpetuating the impact of contestation.

Drawing on media industry studies and discourse analysis, this thesis analyzes the genre discourses of channel brands, Over-the-Top streaming services, and television writers. Because of their differing stakeholder roles, their discourses are expressed in different media: primarily promotional materials, user interfaces, and interviews, respectively. Paratextual analysis of these stakeholder discourses traces the way contestation is created between and within stakeholder groups, and the motivations for those sites of contestation. By centering contestation rather than invalidating it, this thesis interrogates how and why a culturally- devalued genre like fantasy is contested, and what professional, business, and cultural roles stakeholders perceive themselves as fulfilling. Far from a methodological hurdle or a source of invalidating genre, contestation is part of the central appeal of genre, enabling it to operate as a tool that stakeholders can reshape however best suits them. Analyzing that tool reveals not just genre, but the stakeholders who wield it.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Evans, Elizabeth
Pearson, Roberta
Keywords: Fantasy, television, media industry studies, genre discourses, discourse analysis
Subjects: P Language and literature > PN Literature (General)
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies
Item ID: 74594
Depositing User: O'Dette, Katarina
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2024 16:21
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2024 16:21

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