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Title: Superfink : the native American enforcer figure on US network television, 1949-2009
Author: Fitzgerald, Michael Ray
ISNI:       0000 0004 2741 1563
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2012
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This study examines television programmes aired by US networks using methodologies proposed by Cedric C. Clark in a 1969 Television Quarterly article. It tests Clark's four-stage framework using depictions of Native Americans to ascertain whether his framework has utility as guide to understanding minority representations in general. This study adds to the body of research on Native American representations by specifically addressing television depictions. The research shows that US network television has primarily utilized two ways of dealing with Native Americans: they are either shown as enforcers of the dominant group's norms or relegated to the distant past, sometimes both. This case is made by investigating the 'western' programmes The Lone Ranger (1949-1957), Broken Arrow (1956-1958), and Law of the Plainsman (1959-1960) and their functioning in the still-developing myth of the American West during the post-World War II period. These programmes in effect served to promote US government agendas in relation to minorities and served as simulacra that obscured what was happening to Native Americans during the Cold War years. This argument is pursued by using methodologies that place each in the historical context of its production. In addition, there are Native American representations in other genres, notably the crime drama, which are also analyzed: Hawk (1966), Nakia (1974) and Walker: Texas Ranger (1993-2001). The thesis as a whole develops arguments around the nationalist function of minority depictions on the basis of historiographic and aesthetic arguments. Detailed analyses of mise-en-scene and visual strategies are employed to demonstrate how techniques such as framing and iconography position Native American characters in comparison to white characters. In addition, analyses of gender representation demonstrate the ambivalent role of Native American characters, who are often simultaneously hypermasculinized and feminized, as well as issues of Euro-American masculinity that have always underpinned the western genre.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available