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Dene October. Chapter 1. What's He Talking About? Performativity and the First Doctor



Since today is all about travel, I thought I would flash an excerpt from Black Archive Marco Polo – the book celebrates popular culture as a mechanism for imaginative travel, from Marco’s oral recollections, through to the medieval itinerarium, stylised merchant manual, literature and television story.

“The travel story is barely developed when Marco and Rustichello come to write The Travels, certainly not as an adventure genre, and much of its sense of danger and intrigue comes from how it interpolates the reader onto the journey. Indeed, the authors give prominence to documenting and describing the diversity of places, histories and customs. Marco’s sincerity, even when describing outlandish and fantastical marvels, alongside the narrative’s stylised deployment of authorial, linguistic and readerly address, adds considerably to the sense of movement in time and space, and it is these factors that produce in The Travels ambiguities of virtual travel comparable to those of the later forms of itinerarium. The Travels thus fits into a tradition of the imaginative journey in a way that helps to explain the embellished aspects to some of Marco’s descriptions as assertions of first-hand testimony. Marco and Rustichello create an immersive and chameleon text, one Lucarotti unconsciously imitates in creating an unusual Doctor Who story, and which others, including the very next serial along, The Keys of Marinus (1964), sought to emulate (albeit less successfully) in providing the changing locations, people and subplots that are inherent in the travelogue’s movement, pace and seriality (where stages are repeated with variations).”

Excerpt From: Dene October. ‘Marco Polo’ Obverse Books 2018


Marco Polo (Black Archive) Reviews

Currently believed wiped, you would be forgiven for thinking that any analytic study focusing on this sprawling adventure would be a bit short of things to talk about. Yet, this volume leaves the reader far more enlightened than they were before. So, what is going on? Do Obverse Books have a secret copy of ‘Marco Polo’? The answer is simple … Dene October, provides an in-depth discussion of the source material, and heavily references the travelogues of Marco Polo himself. Christian Cawley, Hero Collector

In possibly the greatest coup in Black Archive history, we have sourced something potentially unique – and it’s the author! Obverse Books

Obverse Books has pulled off quite a coup with the latest volume of The Black Archive – author, Dene October is in the possibly unique position of having seen Marco Polo not once, but twice, on broadcast! […] a physical copy will set you back just £4.99, and trust is when we say it’s more than worth it! Doctor Who Companion

Marco Polo (Black Archive) by Dene October.

In the first episode  the Doctor’s spaceship is abducted. ‘How does it move?’ its thief demands to know, mistaking the TARDIS for a caravan. ‘Through the air’, answers Ian. This conversation parallels the serial’s real-life transmission through the media of television, the magic doorway through which the audience steps into the future and past. OBVERSE BOOKS AMAZON UK


Black Archive #18 Marco Polo APRIL 2018

20180325_130223.pngIn the first episode  the Doctor’s spaceship is abducted. ‘How does it move?’ its thief demands to know, mistaking the TARDIS for a caravan. ‘Through the air’, answers Ian. This conversation parallels the serial’s real-life transmission through the media of television, the magic doorway through which the audience steps into the future and past. OBVERSE BOOKS AMAZON UK


Meet our authors #5

A few words on the Doctor Who and History book

Doctor Who & History

Doctor Who and the Never Ending Story

BADeneThe writers of Doctor Who and History focus on a different aspect of history as it expressed thematically in the show. Dene October looks at the programme’s depiction of thirteenth century explorer, Marco Polo.

Marco Polo is in the fourth serial of the show, and not only the first historical proper, it is sadly the first ‘lost’ story. Dene explores the decision to present the story of the Doctor and his companions, whose characters we as viewers are still learning about, through the observation and narrative focus of the renowned Venetian explorer.

“That decision has implications not only for how the camera treats its subjects, but also for the how the travelogue situates the audience as fellow travellers and historians,” he says.

The serial’s quirky narrative style also mirrors the Polo’s journey across Asia.

“The stories have always reflected the odd process of…

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Celebrity Studies: Book Review – Enchanting David Bowie: space/time/body/memory

This is a really thorough review of a book I worked on. As Sophia Deboick, the reviewer, says I question ‘authorship’ in my chapter on ‘Low’ …Bowie’s and his biographers’, putting the fan-listener at the forefront of an intersensory ‘reading’ of the music, augmented by the three figures of Bowie who compose, perform and listen. This is all about my own authorship really, of course, in pushing through the biographical and trying to use these words about Bowie that are already borrowed and reassembled, and then reassemble them again in a new way, listening, performing, composing … the way Bowie uses sound on his album to paint a picture that isn’t necessarily real but is performative, an impression that becomes another real chapter on him. Do I mean his sounds or my words? Oh yes, I know the answer to that – the answer is yes.

Sophia Deboick

Enchanting David Bowie: space/time/body/memory, edited by Toija Cinque, Christopher Moore and Sean Redmond, New York and London, Bloomsbury, 2015, 368 pp., £23.99 (paperback), ISBN: 978-1-6289-2303-2

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London Design Festival – Last chance to see

I should have blogged this earlier as today is the last chance to see my entry in the London Design Festival 2016. I’ve been a bit busy writing a chapter that relates to the themes that my art/design piece discusses. More about that when I deliver the conference presentation on it.

The work is a mirror through which fans can reflect on their mortality. Cheery, huh? In particular, it’s for all those fans who, like me, see something of themselves in the sad death earlier this year of David Bowie, my idol, my hero, my mirror growing up. It’s not actually a mirror – and I apologise to the LDF organising committee for the confusion and them having to ask where’s that mirror got to – but I had indeed been inspired by mirrors, the ones I collected as a boy; backed with vague outlines of Ziggy – or the Duke – and BOWIE printed proudly in black, they came in all sizes, stuck with a safety pin through as a make-do-badge or big enough to paint your face by before a Friday night spent trying to get into pubs, clubs and discos. You found the badges at record fairs, an alternative to the button badges I invariably brought home in the fruitless searches for The Prettiest Star (Mercury, 1970). My exhibition piece is not that kind of mirror, but it is about reflections, fan reflections, and reflections on mortality.

I am very proud to have the opportunity to submit anything to anywhere but I did hesitate wp-image-1764935318jpg.jpegabout submitting this. For two reasons. Firstly, as one of the exhibition team mused, it is an incredibly personal piece compared to the other design pieces being hung. It is what I call the fan-sandwich, a collision of ‘found’ designs with the fan in the middle. At 13, the iconic Aladdin Sane album was the first piece of design that talked to me, while the front page of The Sun reporting Bowie’s death continues to be a conversation I try to avoid. Each design subverts the other even while magnifying the other’s power, and I found myself caught in the middle of this affective collision, forever trying to break the relationship and bring the two back together. I mentioned there was a second reason. Ah yes, it really is a very personal piece you know.

As I say, I’m writing a chapter on these themes, so I don’t want to talk it all out here.  A massive shout out though to photographer Brian Duffy from whose original session both Aladdin Sane and The Sun versions are taken. I also want to genuinely thank those folk who have been kind enough to get in contact with me and share their feelings about the piece. Here’s to the good fan memories!

14 September – 14 October
London Design Festival

Revisiting Mexico ’86

freaksWith International Poetry Day just passed, thought I would dig out one of my own and shine the light of publicity on it. Soon as I started, I got to wondering about the narcissism of that – I’m just too self-conscious to be an impulsive person – so it isn’t surprising really that I ended up choosing this one, both because of and in spite of myself. Still, I dawdled so much I missed tweeting it by a day, and have only got around to hanging out my thoughts to dry here after three days of self-questioning. Here’s the thing, Mexico ’86 is all about guilt, about how the hell life can not only go on but be enjoyable (watching the World Cup) even as the world collapses around others (the earthquake). As the poem suggests, these fragments of images are pretty hard to create a cohesive whole out of.

The piece appeared in Freaks, which was a pamphlet put together to support Live Aid, and also in a really big anthology of poetry published by the American Poetry Association. Even it’s published life highlights how conflicted I feel. But damn, isn’t this all a bit pious and self-deceiving?