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Title: Discourse across cultures : a study of the representation of China in British television documentaries, 1980-2000.
Author: Cao, Qing.
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2001
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The principal objective of this thesis is to explore the representation of China in British television documentaries broadcast between 1980 and 2000, focusing on historical documentaries. The thesis addresses, as its primary research questions and on the basis of substantial database, what is represented, how that representation is realised, and the social, historical influences which contextualise and underpin the representation of China. These questions relating to textual representation are framed within the wider context of Sino-Western relations, Western self-perceptions and conceptions of China. The study aims to reveal mechanisms of textual representation by concentrating on two main dimensions: the internal narrative structures and key discursive formations of the documentary text (including visuals), and structures of power relations operating to shape the representation in both the textual domain of meaning mediation and institutional domain of documentary production. Two aspects of the representation are foregrounded: China as a civilisation and China as a Communist `other'. The thesis focuses primarily on the narrative as a methodology in approaching representation, as documentary achieves meaning mainly through the stories it tells. Two dimensions of narrative are explored: a structuralist dimension drawing on theories developed by Propp and Silverstone, and a discursive dimension which is framed within Foucault's concept of power and knowledge. Extensive primary research established the database for the study, which is made up of 170 documentaries broadcast during the sample period between 1980 and 2000, and 18 field interviews with key personnel in broadcasting and production companies. The thesis argues that the British television documentary representation presents a largely Western understanding of China filtered through, among other things, selfperceptions and conceptions of the `other', and mediated by various sources of power. The process of representing `what is China' is enmeshed with the process of constructing how China should be viewed. The result of this social construction of truth and knowledge is that certain values, convictions, and ideologies are reinforced and reproduced in the vital domain of documentary representation
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Mass media; Discourse analysis; Narrative