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A theory of the transmedia franchise character

Parody, Clare (2011) A theory of the transmedia franchise character. Doctoral thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Abstract

In contemporary media landscapes characterised by technological, industrial, and cultural convergence, transmedia fictional practice, that is, the generation of multiple texts, products and experiences across multiple media outlets cohered by a common narrative reality, cast of characters, or entertainment brand, is in the ascendancy. This thesis begins from the observation that although transmedia practice is coterminously beginning to receive more and more critical attention, there remains much work to be done theorising the “total entertainment” experiences (Grainge, 2008: 11) it produces in fictional terms. It identifies a particular need for further critical investigation of how transmedia fictional practice interacts with the design, development, and representation of character. It takes as its fundamental starting principle the assumption that transmediality can be defined and operationalised as a particular modality of fiction, producing particular orientations and operations of meaning and representation, and that the trans-textual, trans-medial extension of a fiction can be identified and delineated as a fictional practice. In dialogue with existing critical work organised by the concept of transmedia storytelling, and industrial discourses and practices of cross-platform production, I conceptualise and define the object of study of this thesis as the practice of transmedia franchising, of which transmedia storytelling is positioned as a sub-genre. The thesis comprises an original theory of the transmedia franchise character as a fictional object, situated in a poetics of transmedia franchising as a fictional practice. It proposes conceptual tools, theoretical frameworks, and critical positions for understanding and analysing the processes of meaning and representation that build up a picture of a character as it is franchised across texts and media, and how they are shaped and influenced by key contextual factors. The six chapters map six core features of the transmedia franchise character as a fictional object, each then providing a granular elaboration of some of the formal, operational, functional, and critical implications of these features. Chapter One engages the problem of the instability of “the text” as critical concept and material artefact relative to transmedia franchise fiction; Chapter Two theorises the franchise character as extensible, designed to anticipate, sustain and generate serial development and representation across multiple texts; Chapter Three presents transmedia franchising as an art of multiplicity, and explores how it builds up a picture of character through setting in play dialogues between rewrites, reimaginings, and alternate versions; Chapter Four focuses on the multimediality of the franchise character specifically; Chapter Five discusses how paratextual material interpolates into and contributes to the actualisation of the franchise character; and Chapter Six explores the franchise character as site and technology of participation, interactivity, and immersion in the franchise world.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords:transmedia; critical theory; paratexts; entertainment franchising; harry potter; doctor who; star wars; final fantasy VII; adaptation; intertextuality; medium specificity; popular heroes; character; cult fiction; participatory culture
Departments, Research Centres and Related Units:Academic Faculties, Institutes and Research Centres > Faculty of Arts > School of English
Status:Unpublished
ID Code:6013
Deposited On:07 Aug 2012 09:00
Last Modified:01 Aug 2014 01:01

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