Black Archive #18: Marco Polo
Obverse Books 2018
‘This is the Plain of Pamir, known to those who travel to Cathay as the Roof of the World.’
Marco Polo (1964) reflects a cultural change reshaping TV’s role as historian, placing the interpretation of history in the viewers’ hands by recruiting them as travellers in Polo’s caravan.
Examining camera treatments and mobility, adaptive and remedial interventions, public and book history, cultural assumptions and memories, this book celebrates the work of collaborators, copyists, studio personnel and fans in reconstructing this most famous and earliest of missing Doctor Who stories
Adventures in English Time and Space: Sound as Experience in Doctor Who ‘An Unearthly Child’
Mad Dogs & Englishness: Popular Music and English Identities. 2018
‘Focuses on the music and sound effects of the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop for the first episode of Doctor Who, now commonly referred to as An Unearthly Child (first transmitted November, 1963). The programme’s musical effects support its visual landscaping in helping to create a grammar of strange-familiarity that both evokes the timespace of 1963-London as well as subverts it. This timespace is already mediated through the ‘common myths and historical memories’ of England (Smith 1991) and John Reith’s high-minded broadcasting values (Crisell, 1997). Yet the auditory unsettles these ideological frames by submerging the listener into an encounter where the excess and instability of timespace exhorts the listener to think difference and becoming [Deleuze 1987].’
Doctor Who & History: A Cultural Perspective
Edited volume. McFarland. 2017
‘Fifty years after its initial transmission on the BBC, Doctor Who has become part of the cultural history of Britain itself, and its many stories across television, audio plays and books – whether set in the past or populated with the inevitable bug-eyed-monsters – have engaged with important contemporary and historical issues and events. There have been many publications recently celebrating the show’s longevity or reflecting on the programme as a product of the BBC as British institution. Doctor Who and History: A Cultural Perspective is, however, the first volume of essays to focus on the topic of history as it is expressed thematically within the programme, as well as how the programme-makers and audience are situated within it’
“That’s Not Right”: Television, History and Education in Doctor Who During the Hartnell Era
New Worlds, Terrifying Monsters, Impossible Things: Exploring the Contents and Contexts of Doctor Who. PopMatters. 2016
When her school teachers leave Susan alone with a copy of a book on the French Revolution, the Doctor’s granddaughter is clearly surprised by what passes for education at Coal Hill. ‘That’s not right!’ she exclaims mysteriously. The audience has the opportunity to check for themselves when the travellers materialise in the French Revolution, and history teacher Barbara is faced with an ‘experiential chaos’ of squaring narrative history with “structures of feelings” (Williams, 1961: 65) – an existential threat that jolts viewers into a spectating consciousness where history is open, dynamic and performative.
Between Sound and Vision: Low and Sense
Enchanting David Bowie: Space/Time/Body/Memory. Bloomsbury Academic, USA. 2015.
‘Considers how we experience Low and how the sense we make of it is haunted by the historical tripartition of composer / performer / listener, figures which territorialize and marshal music. In the artwork to Low, this hierarchy has collapsed into the virtual figure of Bowie-Newton, a superimposed spectre which threatens both to materialize each discreet monadic position and dissolve them into a nomadic force, one that’s visuality confounds the ‘listening ear’, that legacy of music training and writing. To subvert these figures and uproot the essentialist representational doxa on which they depend, I turn to Deleuze, and concepts amenable to experiencing the album as a sense-flow, one that connects and confuses sense and through which Bowie’s ear becomes a shell from a strange beach: we place it to our ears to be invited inside-out, to become as a sound-body assemblage’
The Becoming (Wo)Man Who Fell to Earth
David Bowie: Critical Perspectives. Routledge Studies in Popular Music. Routledge. 2015.
This speculates on the Thomas Jerome Newton-character in Roeg’s film, The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), as reporting a creative substrate to identity. The historically oppressive figuration of the film’s alien appears to forestall agency and although Deleuze’s notion of ‘becoming’ (1987) is considered, this appears to be constrained by the same androcentric reason. Dissatisfied with a Deleuzean remedy, I turn to the scientific framework of the film, upset the film’s narrative and grammar, and deploy untimely metaphors from Quantum Theory. A post-Newtonian figuration of Newton is proposed, one who inhabits hiatus and benefits from falling without end
Doctor Who? What’s He Talking About? Performativity and the First Doctor
The Language of Doctor Who: From Shakespeare to Alien Tongues. Science Fiction Television. Rowman & Littlefield, Maryland / London, pp. 1-20. 2014.
“When the Daleks create a replicant Doctor in The Chase (1965), they are perhaps aware that the repeat-act brings instability and danger to the conventional order […] A perilous performative? … more, to borrow one of Austin’s terms, an ‘unhappy’ one. This chapter addresses the question of his identity using the concept of ‘performativity’ as initially formulated by Austin (1962) and reworked by Derrida (1988) and Butler (1990). There is no interest here in how the First Doctor becomes the second, third or nth, but rather in how the First Doctor becomes himself […] This method of enquiry will reveal that William Hartnell’s characterization is not uniquely his property, but is simultaneously the Doctor and the mark of the Doctor, a mark that leaves the Doctor open to the perils of appropriation. Such appropriation manifests itself in the programme […] as well as in the many comics, novels, fan fiction and audio books published since. All authors of such work draw from a conventional sign-system of verbal and non-verbal languages that performatively enact the character of the Doctor, some more faithfully than others”
The Day my Doctor Died: a Child’s Experience of the First ‘Regeneration’
Doctor Who @ Fifty. fbi-spy.com 2013
‘Reception theory gives me permission to change the past since it attacks the assumption of the passive spectator, installing his imaginative intervention, the degree of agency that enables the seaming of the viewed into the viewer’s life-experience context. This is an approach that challenges the media ideology tradition by focusing on what viewers do with media consumption, the ‘uses’ and ‘gratifications’ of social and psychological needs[ii]. Television thereby relates to issues of personal identity and values. It can be used to help negotiate social identity, or escape from it.’ This paper uses reception theory and fan studies to discuss the traumatic moment when the original Doctor appeared to die in front of child audiences at the end of the first Cyberman story in 1966 (this was retrospectively described as the first ‘regeneration’) and suggests that our experiences and memories of the event are mixed up with our changing relationship to the ‘natural’ and cyber body.
The Big Shave: Fashions In Modern Male Facial Hair
Hair: Styling, Culture and Fashion. Berg, Oxford and New York, pp. 67-78. 2012
“The everyday repetition of the shaving ritual makes it an important site for the cultural production of masculinity. Examining the rhetoric deployed to promote men’s shaving products makes visible different modes of masculinity, such as traditional and modern, as well as the discourses surrounding face hair, hygiene and imagined perils to the social and material body. Such an approach has implications for ‘performativity’, Butler’s (1990) theory that gender is something we do, rather than something we are […] since it places the emphasis on the negotiation of gendered identity, therefore allowing for more nuanced accounts of power and individual agency. For example, the exploitation of a diverse range of masculinities by advertisers gives male consumers the opportunity to dwell on contradictions in performance. All the same, men’s consumer negotiations occur within a highly regulated social and symbolic framework predisposed to particular manifestations of masculinity. Indeed the cultural regulation of facial hair may be seen as an attempt to rein in the persistent materiality, or ‘nature’, of the socially-significant body”
Back Down the Line: Childhood and the Literature of Stephen King
Availability: Out of Print
“For Stephen King, who believes writers have the look of children, the adult child is a symbol of the positive outcome of the adult’s journey back down the line to re-experience childhood and put it away forever”