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August 2003, Week 1


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Susan Holmes <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 1 Aug 2003 15:19:36 +0100
text/plain (94 lines)

Please could I place the following call for papers to be distributed on the
Screen-L list.

Many thanks,

Su Holmes

                             Call for Papers:
                  British Soap Opera: Present and Future
                            edited by Su Holmes
                        (Southampton Institute, UK)

Proposals are sought for an edited collection examining the aesthetics,
forms, representations and pleasures of contemporary British television
soap opera. Scholarly work on soap opera has occupied a significant place
in the development of television/ cultural studies, whether in terms of
approaches to ?popular? television as an object of study, feminist
television criticism, or the sheer volume of research produced. Yet we have
never found ourselves inundated with work on British soap opera, and the
majority of the most significant interventions were developed from the
early 1980s to the early 1990s - begging the question as to shifts and
developments since this time. Equally, it seems time to return to soap
operas in the contemporary moment - in the context of shifts in narrative
focus and address, the accelerated prevalence of celebrity culture, and the
rise of soap-influenced forms such as Reality TV.

In 1991, Christine Geraghty?s Women and Soap Opera (Cambridge, Polity),
observed of prime-time British and American soaps that although they ?still
offer[ed] traditional soap pleasures to women, the emphasis ha[d]
significantly altered (p.167). In examining what might be conceived as a
broader ?mainstreaming? of the genre, Geraghty discussed how soaps were
aiming to widen their appeal, and identified shifts in storylines/
material, characterisation and narrative point of view (which in the
British context was related to the use of the ?male? generic referents of
the crime series and move away from the traditional terrain of ?women?s
issues?, and a greater emphasis on both male and young characters). She
concluded by suggesting that this ?defeminisation? of the genre may have
been at been at ?considerable cost? to the representation of women, and the
pleasures offered to the female viewer. Since this time, very little work
has attempted to pursue and explore these shifts, nor make comparative
analyses with other national contexts. While soap opera may give the
impression of being an exceptionally ?stable? generic form (surviving as it
has considerable shifts in the television landscape), as we develop a
longer history of approaches to television, it becomes important not just
to generate new areas of research, but to continually re-evaluate the
politics of existing arguments and paradigms. The collection thus aims to
consider the dynamics of contemporary British soap opera from a range of
different perspectives. These include (but are not limited to) the broad
categories of:

History of academic approaches to the genre
Comparisons between the past and present of soap opera
The political economy of soap opera
Marketing/ promotion
Soap opera and cultural value/ cultural status/ critical discourse
The global circulation of British soap opera/ reception in other
national contexts
Representations of community/ gender/ ethnicity/ sexuality/ ?class?/
Soap opera and audience/ audience address/ reception
Narrative form in soap opera
Shifts in narrative material/ character focus
The relationship between soap opera narrative and popular TV drama
The relationship between soap opera and television crime
Soap opera and celebrity culture
The relationship between soap opera and ?new? communication
technologies (e.g. the Internet)
The (narrative, formal, aesthetic) relationship between soap opera
and popular factual programming - docusoap, Reality TV.
The intertextual construction of the genre - press, magazines,

Please send proposals (maximum 500 words) with a brief CV attached by 1
November, 2003 to [log in to unmask] (queries welcome) or to Faculty
of Media Arts and Society, Southampton Institute, East Park Terrace,
Southampton, SO14 OYN, UK.

Dr. Su Holmes is Senior Lecturer in Media with Cultural Studies at
Southampton Institute (UK). She has published on the history of British
cinema and television in journals such as Screen, Historical Journal of
Film, Radio and Television, Journal of Popular British Cinema, and
Quarterly Review of Film and Video. She is currently researching the topic
of contemporary quiz shows and working on the book Coming to a TV Near
You!: British Television and Film Culture in the 1950s, and is co-editor of
the forthcoming Understanding Reality TV (Routledge, 2003).

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