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Media Audiences

Television, Meaning and Emotion

Kristyn Gorton

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An engaging and original study of current research on television audiences and the concept of emotion, this book offers a unique approach to key issues within television studies. Topics discussed include: television branding; emotional qualities in television texts; audience reception models; fan cultures; 'quality' television; television aesthetics; reality television; individualism and its links to television consumption.

The book is divided into two sections: the first covers theoretical work on the audience, fan cultures, global television, theorising emotion and affect in feminist theory and film and television studies. The second half offers a series of case studies on television programmes such as Wife Swap, The Sopranos and Six Feet Under in order to explore how emotion is fashioned, constructed and valued in televisual texts. The final chapter features original material from interviews with industry professionals in the UK and Irish soap industries along with advice for students on how to conduct their own small-scale ethnographic projects.

Key Features:

  • An accessible guide to theoretical work on emotion and affect, this book is key reading for advanced undergraduates and postgraduates doing media studies, communication and cultural studies and television studies.
  • Case studies on emotion and television in British and US media contexts demonstrate new research and provide a starting point for readers undertaking their own research.
  • Each chapter includes exercises, points for discussion and lists for further reading


Introduction: why study television?
Part One: Theoretical Background
1, 'Desperately Seeking the Audience': Models of Audience Reception
2, Personal Meanings, Fandom & Sitting Too Close to the Television
3, Global Meanings and Trans-cultural Understandings of 'Dallas'
4, Theorising Emotion and Affect: Feminist Engagements
5, Theorising Emotion: Television & Film Theory
Part Two: Case Studies
6, A Sentimental Journey: Writing, Emotion & Television
7, 'There's No Place Like Home': Emotional Exposure, Excess and Empathy on TV
8, Emotional Rescue: 'Sopranos', 'ER' and 'State of Play'
9, Feminising Television: The Mother Role in 'Six Feet Under' and 'Brothers & Sisters'
10, Journey and Jeopardy: A Small-Scale Case Study of Emotion in the UK/Irish Television Soap Industry

About the Author

Dr Kristyn Gorton is a Lecturer in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television at the University of York. She is the author of Critical Scenes of Desire in Twentieth-Century Fiction (2006) and Theorising Desire: From Freud to Feminism to Film (2007). She has published articles in the Journal of British Cinema and Television, Dalhousie French Studies, Studies in European Cinema and Diegesis.

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