Making Doctor Who Mean

This section looks at how Cultural Studies has been used to explore Doctor Who – and the impact those studies have had on fandom.

The pun is, of course, intentional: there has been a degree of mean spiritedness in much of this work, and it has enabled intellectual bullying of the worst kind. For this reason I’m going to be highly critical of some of these analyses, and try to expose the elitist assumptions as well as rhetorical strategies these critics employ.

Those working in the Cultural Studies industry rarely contradict what has gone before, and tend to build upon the conclusions of their predecessors, even when methodologies have slipped out of fashion; so, for instance, Una McCormack’s essay ”He’s Not the Messiah: Undermining Political and Religious Authority in New Doctor Who” (2011) restates the conclusions of John Fiske’s ”Popularity and Ideology: A Structuralist Reading of Dr Who (1984) without  actually engaging with the assumptions upon which those conclusions are based: structuralist semiotics, Althusseran Marxism, Screen theory, etc., none of which would be stated openly these days but all of which still operate as first order enthymemes.

Since these unstated assumptions are often quite arcane I’ll provide links to essays in my Cultural Studies section where I’ll look more closely at some of the theoretical frameworks employed.

I’m working my way through these chronologically, so bear with me.

Essays so far include:

Popularity and Ideology: A Structuralist Reading of Dr Who

Doctor Who: The Unfolding Text



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