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Title: 'Don't stop' : re-thinking the function of endings in narrative television
Author: Bell, Stuart
ISNI:       0000 0004 5916 6822
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis argues that the study of narrative television has been limited by an adherence to accepted and commonplace conceptions of endings as derived from literary theory, particularly a preoccupation with the terminus of the text as the ultimate site of cohesion, structure, and meaning. Such common conceptions of endings, this thesis argues, are largely incompatible with the realities of television’s production and reception, and as a result the study of endings in television needs to be re-thought to pay attention to the specificities of the medium. In this regard, this thesis proposes a model of intra-narrative endings, islands of cohesion, structure, and meaning located within television texts, as a possible solution to the problem of endings in television. These intra-narrative endings maintain the functionality of traditional endings, whilst also allowing for the specificities of television as a narrative medium. The first two chapters set out the theoretical groundwork, first by exploring the essential characteristics of narrative television (serialisation, fragmentation, duration, repetition, and accumulation), then by exploring the unique relationship between narrative television and the forces of contingency. These chapters also introduce the concept of intra-narrative endings as a possible solution to the problems of television’s narrative structure, and the medium’s relationship to contingency. Following on from this my three case studies examine forms of television which have either been traditionally defined as particularly resistant to closure (soap opera and the US sitcom) or which have received little analysis in terms of their narrative structure (sports coverage). Each of these case studies provides contextual material on these televisual forms, situating them in terms of their narrative structure, before moving on to analyse them in terms of my concept of intra-narrative endings. In the case of soap opera, the chapter focusses on the death of the long running character Pat Butcher in the British soap EastEnders (BBC, 1985-), while my chapter on the US sitcom focusses on the varying levels of closure that can be located within the US sitcom, using Friends (NBC, 1993-2004) as a particular example. Finally, my chapter on sports coverage analyses the BBC’s coverage of the 2012 London Olympics, and focusses on the narratives surrounding cyclists Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton. Each of these case studies identifies their chosen events as intra-narrative endings within larger, ongoing texts, and analyses the various ways in which they operate within those wider texts. This thesis is intended to make a contribution to the emerging field of endings studies within television by shifting the understanding of endings away from a dominant literary model which overwhelmingly focusses on the terminus of the text, to a more televisually specific model which pays attention to the particular contexts of the medium’s production and reception.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN1990 Broadcasting ; PR English literature