Talking Torchwood: fluid sexuality, representation and audiences

Haslop, Craig (2013) Talking Torchwood: fluid sexuality, representation and audiences. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Queer theorists have argued that we should move beyond sexual labelling in the social sense. For this thesis I have conducted audience research to explore the liberatory potential of the representation of fluid sexuality in the BBC television series Torchwood (2006-) through my own and my participants’ interpretations. I evaluate how Torchwood can be seen as potentially liberating in terms of sexual identity and what the implications might be for wider debates around fluid versus stable gendered sexual identities in queer politics. I suggest Torchwood should be seen as liberatory in the sense that it challenges rigid notions of sexual identity in the first two seasons of the series. However through the analysis, I argue that in two important ways we cannot suggest that the series is challenging heteronormativity, as some academics have proposed. Firstly, as part of the process of channel hopping from niche to mainstream television, the liberatory sexual agenda is watered down. Secondly, through readings of the series from the perspective of gender I suggest that the portrayal of masculinity in particular is heteronormative. In terms of my participants, I also note the tension that exists between their aspirations for fluid sexuality, exercised through their readings of Torchwood and the need for stability of identity, also notable when analysing their responses. In this way, I suggest that in terms of the period now often termed the ‘post-gay’, perhaps we need a more fluid approach to identity, where we aspire to a fluid notion of gendered sexual identities, but keep in mind the need for stability as part of that process.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > Media and Film
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2013 05:59
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:50

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