The audiovisual text: analysis from a mediological perspective
The purpose of this research is to analyse intertextuality in televisual narratives, specifically in drama series, aiming to identify thematic recurrences from an interdisciplinary perspective, which includes narratology, literature theory, mythology, semiotics, cultural studies and anthropology. This process could be named mediological intertextuality, as it is constantly related to previous texts. This doctoral work starts with an empirical analysis of five drama series: The West Wing (NBC: 1999–2006), CSI Las Vegas (CBS: 2000–), Lost (ABC: 2004–), Desperate Housewives (ABC: 2004–), and House (Fox: 2004–). At the base of this work is the determination of features such as generic hybridisation, postmodernism and meta-television features in the shows mentioned, not only with a descriptive purpose, but also in order to demonstrate the main hypothesis. That is: thematic recurrence characterises quality television series, together with features inherent to the industrial television production (that determine the programs’ output, as stated by Walter Benjamin, in relation to the mechanical reproduction of the work of art). Based on this argument we can state that thematic recurrence is an inherent feature not only of audiovisual narrative, but also of any kind of cultural or artistic production. The method includes an analysis of the audiovisual text, based on Ginzburg’s and Dumézil’s methodology, using both diachronic and generic perspectives, and synchronic and mythological perspectives. In order to demonstrate that thematic recurrence extends to televisual texts (and that it is not just inherent to an ethnographic tale), this research analyses: 1/ The features of each show, from the point of view of the production context, and the context of its reception (which is based on audience data); 2/ The invariable ingredients used in televisual texts (Calabrese, 1989; Villanueva, 1991) analysing them from a multidisciplinary perspective, by using mythological comparison (Lévi-Strauss, 1958; Ginzburg, 1989; Dumézil, 1970), Rastier’s textual analysis and themathology (Brunel and Dabézies, 1992; Guillén, 1985, 1998), and myth in TV (Silverstone, 1981); 3/ The homological structural features by using semiotics, formalism (Eco, 1979; 1983, 1984; Calabrese, 1987; Greimas, 1979; Todorov and Propp, 1928) and narratology (Genette, 1982), in order to distinguish features that are inherent to audiovisual narratives from the thematic recurrence in cultural and artistic production; 4/ The distinct features inherent to audiovisual narratives such as autoreferentiality, generic hybridisation and multigenericity, by using academic televisual research (Creeber, 2001, 2004, 2006; Buonano, 1999, 2005; Berciano, 1999; Lacalle, 1999, 2001; Imbert, 2003; Cascajosa, 2005).