Lines of flight : mediation and the coding of narrative knowledge on the American screen in the seventies
This thesis, a two volume study of aspects of those popular cultural forms which increasingly prevail over the home television and video environment (American narrative film in feature and series formats), attempts to identify there a narrative mode of production. The specific problem traced through such a production is that of the outer/inner (visible/invisible) metaphor as it informs the construction of points of ‘individualism’ in or through the textual surface. This problem is considered in relation both to certain traditional ways of thinking about the American ‘imagination’ and to specific examples of popular film in the seventies. These considerations are progressively focussed on the question of ideological recognition and on an enlargement of the concept of ‘channel’ to include those mimetic impulses which maintain a contact between text and reader. Around the theme of an extending ‘discourse relation’ which establishes certain limits and levels of practice, the thesis considers the relationship of level and metalevel; particularly the idea that an event at one level of description may be ’caused’ by an event at another level by virtue of being a ‘translation’. The crucial instance relates the spatial positioning of the body, on the screen and in front of it, to ‘extrinsic’ conditions. Conditions are formulated in terms of a late capitalist transition to unstable postindustrial, at which point the study of narrative systems of signification becomes an exercise in reading structural mediation between popular culture and surrounding socio-economic and historical realities. This shift between significations and communications brings a critical perspective to bear on the dominant ideology thesis and begins to engage with a grounded method of theorising, suggesting that detailed work on textual features of popular culture is not finally discontinuous with the level of description which takes as its object the hypothesised new communication order.