Date of Award

7-24-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Thomas J. Slater, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

John Branscum, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Christopher Orchard, D.Phil.

Abstract

This dissertation explores how the BBC science-fiction shows, Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, Red Dwarf, and Torchwood, through their creative and corporate encoding, either connect with or alienate their audiences during the decoding process, which is seen in their fan-generated reviews and creative productions. More specifically, both the decoders and encoders are searching for definitions of heroic identity via the lens of gender and sexuality. When this encoding process is successful, the shows flourish, and fan cultures find a voice for their own identities. Conversely, when the gendered heroic encoding achieves a negative effect, the shows are subject to fan criticism, which can lead to them being reworked or cancelled. With the introduction, a phenomenological reading of inanimate objects (i.e., spaceships and headquarters) in these shows allows for a commentary on how gender and sexuality is reflected and refracted in the encoding and decoding of their respective heroic quests. Chapter one then provides an analysis of the 1982-89 era of Doctor Who, discussing how fan resistance to the somewhat queered encoding inherent in this iteration of the show under the stewardship of its gay producer, John Nathan-Turner, contributed to its cancellation. Next, chapter two’s discussion of Blake’s 7 traces how gender and identity essential to the characterizations of the rebels and the Federation forces challenge or reflect heteronormative gender roles and fan reactions to the show.

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