Beyond realism?
Modes of reading in Marxist-socialist and post-Marxist-socialist Television drama criticism
in Beyond representation
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This chapter summarizes some well-rehearsed debates from the early to mid-twentieth century, concerning realism and naturalism in television drama and the impact on those debates of poststructuralist and postmodern theory. This lays the ground for a more complex discussion of the assumptions about form, subjectivity and identity, production and reception that were produced on the way. Such issues help identify limitations and problems within the postmodern, ‘post-Marxist’ approaches that often dominated television criticism in the 1990s. The relationship between politics and aesthetics was most often defined through reference to the Marxist-socialist tradition and more specifically to the work of theatre practitioner and theorist Bertolt Brecht. Brecht famously developed a critique of what he termed ‘Aristotelian’ or ‘dramatic theatre’, which he defined as offering an illusion of reality that conformed to the ideology of the parasitic bourgeoisie. Usually understood as an attack on naturalism and/or realism, Brecht's analysis of this aesthetic embraced all aspects of production including illusionist staging, linear narratives, psychologically motivated characterisation and naturalistic acting.

Beyond representation

Television drama and the politics and aesthetics of identity

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