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Internet-Distributed Television and the Pedagogy of Queer Crossovers


Internet-Distributed Television and the Pedagogy of Queer Crossovers

Symes, Katerina (2022) Internet-Distributed Television and the Pedagogy of Queer Crossovers. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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We are arguably living in a “Golden Age” of Queer TV ushered in by internet-distributed television. Although the nonlinear affordances of internet protocol have transformed TV’s industrial practices and economic structures, which are said to affect content and creative programming decisions, this dissertation reconsiders the technologically determinist assumption that internet-distributed television platforms unquestioningly afford “freedom” in terms of viewer and content autonomy, particularly in increasing diverse queer and trans* representation. By offering a comparative analysis of three American “queer crossover” series—Orange Is the New Black (Netflix, 2013-2019), Transparent (Amazon Prime Video, 2014-2017, 2019), and Her Story (YouTube, 2016)—this project brings together a Television and a Platform Studies approach to Queer TV Studies. This methodological contribution is key to understanding how TV’s changing structures of production, distribution, and consumption are impacting the broader socio-cultural role of TV alongside the recent proliferation of queer and trans* content.

My central argument is that queer crossovers, insofar as they reach a broad audience, are inherently pedagogical in how they construct and disseminate knowledge about queerness. Because these TV series target mainstream audiences, first and foremost, they rely on a “Trojan Horse” structure as part of their pedagogy—they use predominately white, educated, upper- middle class, and nominally straight and/or cisgender protagonists to draw viewers into their series. However, as queer crossovers circulate, they must respond to cultural contestations over their use of this device, which centers mainstream viewers as a site for education, pleasure, and viewership. This feedback is incorporated into the production and development of each series over time as the shows themselves (i.e., producers, writers) “learn to learn” from queer and trans* communities. This act of “teaching back”—that is, how each show’s learning becomes its own form of “scaffolding” for audiences—results in changes to queer crossovers in terms of their material conditions of production, their content choices, and their storytelling and aesthetic strategies. Thus, this supplanting of the Trojan Horse structure with another pedagogical strategy not only reflects a shift in who is being taught what and when, but also implies a dynamic relationship between TV, audiences, and pedagogy.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Communication Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Symes, Katerina
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:28 August 2022
Thesis Supervisor(s):Lynes, Krista
ID Code:991330
Deposited On:21 Jun 2023 14:30
Last Modified:01 Dec 2023 01:00
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