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September 2003, Week 4


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Susan Holmes <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 25 Sep 2003 14:55:29 +0100
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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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
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).

Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite