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Call for submissions to Northern Lights, Volume 16 - Themed Issue on: Television Drama in the Age of Media Convergence
TV drama seems to be in a state of permanent transformation. However, the present transformation hits the core of TV drama as we knew it, challenging the very concept of what TV drama used to be. Even if we choose to maintain the concept of TV, questions abound: Does digital TV increase choice and diversity, or does it just offer more recycled TV drama programmes? Does it change the role and obligations of public service broadcasting? To what extent are global TV drama formats favoured and enjoyed by audiences? The recent transition to digital TV and the impact of media convergence raise crucial aesthetic, cultural, social and political questions.
 
Technologically, TV has experienced a digital revolution, paving the way for seamless viewing via online distribution and streaming. Besides streaming, companies such as HBO and Netflix have launched themselves as commissioners and producers of original programming with yet-unknown consequences for traditional TV channels and production companies. Consequently, new models of production, distribution and consumption are developing. The tendency towards convergence between cinema and TV drama has accelerated. Directors usually associated with cinema such as Martin Scorsese, Jane Campion and Steven Soederbergh have made joint ventures with TV production companies, launching exclusive TV series with film actors. Furthermore, the intersections between television and social media, from debates on various websites to hashtags, live-tweeting and second screen phenomena, constitute an area of clear importance.
 
During the same period, TV drama has been an object to globalisation on a compelling scale, which manifests itself in different ways. This is felt in increasing coproduction and co-financing, in international casts and international exchanges of directors and script writers. English/American is the language of advantage, in which all kinds of cross-national productions are primarily performed. Is this state of affairs challenged by Asian, South American, or non-English European productions?
 
Alternative tendencies co-exist with globalisation and binge viewing. Broadcast TV is no longer considered “the private life of a nation state” (John Ellis 1982). Nevertheless, national broadcasters in many nations, such as the Scandinavian countries and the UK, continue producing TV drama, and the often-excellent ratings suggest that there remains an audience for their productions. Although national TV drama may primarily address a domestic audience, it is often made from a cross-cultural perspective, addressing the extended family at home as well as the more remote relatives in other countries. But how is this achieved?
 
In this volume of Northern Lights, we will focus on the transformation of TV drama in the age of media convergence and consider how we can understand this transformation by reconfiguring our theoretical and analytical approaches.

Topics of article proposals may include (but are not restricted to):
  • Production studies: What can researchers’ contact with the cultural industries provide vis-à-vis audience studies or text studies? In which ways do routines, rituals or production rules interfere with the production processes? Which roles can be attributed to the choice of places and spaces of production? Which roles do local, regional or national organisations play in the planning processes, and which part is played by aesthetics/timing/economy in international cooperation? How does television production change according to the new challenges and opportunities presented by TV series in a ‘post-television’ era?
  • Text studies and aesthetics: So-called quality drama characterised by high production values has been key to the recent interest in TV drama taken by TV researchers worldwide. But what exactly is quality drama? Is the concept of ‘production values’ valid in aesthetic analysis? Narrowing the perspective: What are the consequences of digital transformations and the new means of distribution? To what extent have the concepts of genre and narrative design changed alongside platforms and business models?
  • Distribution studies: Analyses of the changing economic and technological conditions of distribution. In the face of digital distribution to smartphones, tablets, and computers, to which degree can we still speak of ‘television’? New business models have emerged or are emerging, such as subscription video-on-demand (SVOD), transaction video-on-demand (TVOD), and ad-supported video-on-remand (AVOD). When it comes to streaming, there are also distinctions to be made, e.g. download-to-rent or download-to-own. What are the consequences of these new modes of distribution?
  • Audience studies: Reconsiderations of the aims and results of audience studies from a national/global perspective. Can dominant audience patterns be discerned vis-à-vis national TV drama productions, adaptations, and international remakes respectively? How are viewing patterns changed by factors such as second screening, streaming on demand, and the option of viewing wherever you are? What roles do fan cultures and online discussions play?
Send extended abstracts of 500-600 words to volume editors Professor Gunhild Agger (gunhild@cgs.aau.dk) and Associate Professor Mette Mortensen (metmort@hum.ku.dk).
 
Deadline for abstract submission: 1 April 2015
Notification of authors: 15 April 2015
Final article submission: 1 September 2015
Publication: Spring 2016
Posted by Jessica Pennock at 11:32 (0) comments
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