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Title:Kind world, cruel world, friends and heroes: A generic analysis of television police drama and situation comedy, 1982-1992
Author(s):Glennon, Ivy Laura
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Swanson, David L.
Department / Program:Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Speech Communication
Mass Communications
Abstract:Significant elements of narrative clearly recur in television programs. They do so within a number of recognizable generic patterns which not only create narrative coherence but also advocate particular principles of social organization and practice within the context of the program--i.e., views of how social institutions do and should work and of how persons do and should act to promote a desirable society. These social principles entail value laden beliefs (e.g., individual accomplishment is important), support general social policies (e.g., the legal system should protect individual rights to privacy), and advocate specific individual behavior (e.g., an individual should not use other persons' property without permission).
Thus any generic narrative television program makes an argument that starts with what is wrong or right with society and ends by advocating principles which uphold the workable and address the unworkable elements of society. Furthermore, for a narrative television program to be meaningful, viewers must understand the social principles--i.e., the argument--demonstrated in the program.
This dissertation analyzes the arguments made by two of the most prevalent forms of television narrative: situation comedies and police dramas. It begins by reviewing literature on the meaning of television in Chapter 1, then by analyzing literature on the theory of genre in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 delineates narrative genre for the purposes of assessing television programs' arguments and social principles. Chapter 4 defines the situation comedy genre using examples from 14 of the most popular situation comedies in the decade 1982-1992. Chapter 4 concludes with a detailed generic analysis with a representative text--an episode of the wildly popular program Cheers. Chapter 5 defines the police drama genre using examples from the five most popular police dramas of 1982-1992, concluding with a detailed analysis of an episode of Cagney and Lacey. Chapter 6 assesses the utility of basing television textual analysis on this notion of genre and suggests uses for this approach in such areas as social scientific effects research, critical ideological textual analyses, and feminist television critique. The dissertation concludes that ultimately this approach has potential for determining an important over-looked level of audiences' understanding of television messages.
Issue Date:1994
Rights Information:Copyright 1994 Glennon, Ivy Laura
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9416361
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9416361

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