Imitating and Innovating a Critical Television Studies Model for Communication

by Garret Castleberry

Institution: University of Oklahoma
Year: 2015
Keywords: Mass Communication; Media Studies; Television; Genre Theory
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2066896
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/11244/14602


This project imitates a television studies model of criticism by innovating a critical mixed-methods approach for communication scholars. Jonathan Gray and Amanda Lotz posit a television studies model that comprises examination and analysis across four key tenets in the TV encoding/deocoding process: programs, audiences, institutions, and contexts. In order to meet the criteria of these four tenets, I employ genre theory and autoethnography as a way to intertwine these intersecting communication factions. I limit my scope to the post-Sopranos or post-Network era of cable television dominance and triangulate focus between three dominate producers of dramatic television output in HBO, FX, and AMC. These three cable networks provide a healthy sample from which I close read or close watch and rhetorically recap select dramatic series—including Sons of Anarchy, Game of Thrones, and Hell on Wheels among others—in an effort to examine their social, cultural, political, and ideological meaning making. Ultimately I contend that not unlike the television studies model itself, contemporary television programming and cable drama series in particular utilize a unique brand of genre-mixing iconicity. In addition, cable series collectively indicate an emerging genre convention I identify in the rotten aesthetic. Through a diverse series of critical analyses, I argue cable televisual programs, audiences, institutions, and contexts constitute and communicate multiple conflicting values. Thus these texts and paratexts can be said to contain rhetorically rich polyvalence that individually and collectively warrant a critical television studies model to be imitated and innovated within communication studies. Advisors/Committee Members: Kramer, Eric (advisor), Fields, Alison (committee member), Beliveau, Ralph (committee member), Meirick, Patrick (committee member), Hsieh, Elaine (committee member).