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Beholding Beauty: Aesthetics, Style and Sensation in US Quality Television Political Thrillers

Young, M. (2021) Beholding Beauty: Aesthetics, Style and Sensation in US Quality Television Political Thrillers. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00106867


This is a study about stylistic configurations in quality American television from the perspective of aesthetic engagement and focuses on the political thrillers Homeland (Showtime, 2011-2020), Scandal (ABC, 2012-2018) and House of Cards (Netflix, 2013- 2019). Using subjective aesthetic sensitivity as a starting point, this thesis entails considering debates from philosophy and television studies, specifically drawing on Kantian analytic aesthetics to focus on affect and televisual style. It further demonstrates how this focus can contribute to a unique evaluative methodology in the field of television aesthetics and a more nuanced reflection on thrillers’ potential for exemplary aesthetic enunciation using three case studies. Arguing that television works have the potential to be art, this thesis uses close textual analysis to explore how the programme’s stylistic and aesthetic choices work to induce thrilling sensations by their material manipulation of artistic elements and appreciates their achievements in terms of technical execution and sensuality. The thesis makes new contributions to knowledge by i) closely engaging with the conceptual and practical aesthetics of television lighting by reference to industry terminology, production methods and information gleaned from conferences, industry publicity, festivals and trade journals about technical equipment; ii) its thorough exploration of recent US political thrillers in recognition of its gap in the literature and iii) its critical appreciation and wide-ranging reflection upon the philosophical foundations of television aesthetics, along with the epistemic perspectives and affective potentialities such explorations entail.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Cardwell, S. and Bignell, J.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Film, Theatre & Television
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:106867


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