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Andrew Monaghan

This chapter frames the book’s argument, introducing the core themes. It first sketches out how Russian activity is understood in Euro-Atlantic capitals, particularly the debate over whether Moscow is acting strategically or opportunistically. It then frames Moscow’s view that international affairs are in structural transition and dominated by intensifying geopolitical and geoeconomic rivalry. Senior Russian officials assert growing competition for the global commons and for access to energy resources, transit routes, and markets. Such competition is considered likely to increase during the 2020s and to be a potential cause of conflict. The Russian leadership sees this transition as offering serious risks and also potential benefits, and this view guides Russian strategic thinking and activity. The Russian military has sought to enhance its positions in the “strategically important global areas”. This has been most notable in the Middle East and in parts of Africa, and increasingly visibly in North Africa. Activity in the Indian and Pacific Oceans suggests that Moscow is engaged in establishing a presence there. Moscow seeks to link economic capacity across regions through major infrastructure projects. If Moscow’s prioritisation of the Northern Sea Route – an “Ice Silk Road” – is the most obvious, a number of other ambitious projects seek to link Europe to China and the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

in Russian Grand Strategy in the era of global power competition
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Substance / style
Lucy Fife Donaldson, Sarah Cardwell, and Jonathan Bignell

This introduction traces how the key terms of the collection have been addressed in television studies, providing a snapshot of the differing ways we might encounter substance and style in relation to television. Moving from the commonplace axiom of ‘substance over style’, which reinforces a hierarchical relationship between substance (as aligned with seriousness, intellectual weight and solidity) and style (associated with frivolous decoration and ephemerality), the introduction highlights varied ways to nuance and complicate the relationship between these terms, which are reflected in the chapters that follow. Substance is considered in its figurative usage, particularly in relation to the work television studies has done to present television as a serious object of study, as well as in terms of its ontological basis, reflecting on the materiality and technology of television production and reception. Style is connected to the work of television aesthetics, as well as to other work which places form centrally, such as that which seeks to connect stylishness to the ‘cinematic’, a contentious move which this volume is keen to challenge in its integration of substance with style. The introduction concludes by situating its chapters, which bring a breadth of approaches, interrogating the binary across programming ranging from the 1960s to today, from network and public service broadcasting to premium cable, serial and episodic drama, as well as comedy, sitcom and animation.

in Substance / style
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Madmen in the attic?
Amy Milne-Smith

This introduction outlines the scope of the book, its methodology and approach, and gives a brief discussion of historiography. The text sketches in broad strokes what examining the experience and representation of madness tells us about Victorian masculinity. This includes a study of sufferers, families, and the culture at large. It argues that the social, medical, and personal explanations of men’s insanity point to increasing anxieties about manhood and civilization in general over the course of the second half of the nineteenth century.

in Out of his mind
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Complexity / simplicity
Sarah Cardwell, Jonathan Bignell, and Lucy Fife Donaldson

The Introduction introduces the terms complexity and simplicity. It advocates that we might expand our critical vocabulary by reconsidering how these terms are employed in television studies.

Overt references to complexity and ‘complex TV’ have burgeoned in recent years. Complexity has played a particularly salient role in television aesthetics, where it supports evaluative appreciations of specific programmes. However, the range of television works considered in terms of ‘complexity’ is rather narrow: twenty-first century, American, ‘quality’ serial dramas predominate. Furthermore, narrative complexity is frequently prioritised over other kinds. We suggest that conceptions of complexity drawn from analytic aesthetics might help direct attention to other sources of complexity and complex pleasures.

In TV studies, the word ‘simplicity’ is often used as a negative counterpoint, associated with unfashionable and critically slighted television, rather than as an alternative criterion for value. We make a case for reappraising simplicity, not merely as a route to clarity, concision or accessibility, but also as a potentially valuable aesthetic feature. We note that the achievement and indeed the appreciation of simplicity, just as in the case of complexity, requires complex skills on part of the creator or viewer.

The Introduction sets out the book’s chapters. Contributors come from diverse areas of TV studies; the range of television works addressed is similarly broad, covering UK and US drama, comedy-drama, sitcom, animation, sci-fi, adaptation and advertisement. But all chapters attend closely to stylistic details of specific moments, and all explore the chosen programmes’ achievements in terms of their balance of complexity and simplicity.

in Complexity / simplicity
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Remembering travel
Emma Gleadhill

The Introduction outlines the primary purpose of the book – that is, to view the souvenir through a gendered lens – and its central research questions. It lays out the book’s three-part structure, which reflects three overlapping arenas for representing travel in the eighteenth century: connoisseurship, science and friendship. After establishing the significance of the souvenir, the Introduction proceeds to address four subjects in turn. Firstly, the woman tourists, the elite women who feature in the book, are introduced. Their involvement in the Grand Tour and domestic tourism within Britain is foregrounded in the history of the origins of the Grand Tour in the late seventeenth century. Secondly, gendering eighteenth-century travel: this study is placed within the scholarship on eighteenth-century women’s travel, travel literature, collecting and connoisseurship. The third and fourth subjects of the Introduction are two interrelated sets of challenges posed by gendering the souvenir. One is theoretical and concerns determining how women related to the objects they brought home, the other is methodological and concerns interpreting both the objects themselves and how they were represented in text. The third subject is gendering the souvenir: the theoretical frameworks of Walter Benjamin, Susan Stewart and Beverley Gordon are introduced and used to theoretically foreground the subject. Finally, reflecting on the souvenir: the scope, benefits and limitations of the methodology are discussed.

in Taking travel home
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Enthusiasm’s strange confusion
Andrew Poe

The chapter introduces the concept of enthusiasm and its place in the history of political theory. It describes how enthusiasm has, over time, become a misunderstood concept in contemporary politics, and the very real consequences that this has for democracy and for how political actors understand themselves and their own political agency. Going beyond the usual debate regarding the dangers of enthusiasm to collective identity and democratic politics, this chapter also describes the way enthusiasm has emancipatory potential for resistance movements. Building on Foucault’s schematic reflections, this chapter also discusses the necessity of reconsidering the concept of enthusiasm beyond its previous historical manifestations. The chapter provides an overview of the subsequent chapters of the book, showing how each help illuminate the meanings of political enthusiasm.

in Political enthusiasm
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Sound / image
Jonathan Bignell, Sarah Cardwell, and Lucy Fife Donaldson

The Introduction makes a case for the advantages of greater appreciative attentiveness to both sound and image, their interactions with each other and their roles in establishing meaning and style. Such attentiveness means focusing on technical and stylistic aspects of the image, including production design, framing and camera movement, mise-en-scène and performance. As regards sound, television soundtracks may comprise diegetic and non-diegetic sound, including music, dialogue, voice-over, bodily sounds, performed and non-performed sounds. Analysis and appreciation of individual programmes means looking for coherence between image and sound but also for discontinuity, discordance and tension. The development of television image technologies is a story of the quest for realistic accuracy, yet the artistry of image production can run with, or counter to, the discourse of ever-increasing clarity. Television camera work can give intimacy to performance, and repeated, intense engagement with performance over a long duration could be argued to be a distinctive property of television drama. The repetition of serial and series forms in television, and the longevity of some programmes, also give music in television a special significance. The chapters in this volume analyse some of the expressive potential that the visual and acoustic material of television can have. They explore and evaluate the plasticity of images, sounds and their interrelationships, through close attention to programmes that invite a reconsideration of how television sound and image can engage and affect their audiences.

in Sound / image
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Detecting innovations in sound and image
Richard Hewett

One of the most popular and successful crime dramas of the 1990s, Inspector Morse (ITV, 1987-–2000) starred John Thaw as the Oxford detective with a passion for classical music and real ale, and encompassed seven series and five special episodes. While existing academic work has lauded the series for its ‘quality’ and ‘heritage’ signifiers, to date little research has been conducted with regard to its innovative approach to sound and image. The series was particularly notable for how it either juxtaposed these elements – as in debut episode ‘The Dead of Jericho’, in which Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’ and Hubert Parry’s ‘My soul there is a country’ contrast with a police raid – or allowed them an unusual degree of dominance, as when Brian Johnston’s cricket commentary, a radio call-in show and the strains of Saint-Saens’s ‘Concerto for Cello’ compete for the viewer’s (and Morse’s) attention in the opening to ‘Deceived by Flight’. Such experimentation set the series apart from contemporary generic conventions, developing a self-conscious style that helped ensure its success, leaving audiences by turns captivated, unsettled and entranced, and reaching viewing figures of 18 million in the process.

This chapter draws upon examples from a range of episodes to examine how the series employed sound and image in often unusual, dissonant or defamiliarising ways. Inspector Morse’s pioneering approach to these elements created a truly distinctive look and feel, particularly when compared to its crime drama contemporaries, and this will be unpacked here in detail for the first time.

in Sound / image
Emma Gleadhill

Chapter 6 is about the curiosity cabinet of the supreme traveller of this book, Lady Elizabeth Holland. Born into immense slave-based wealth as the only child (and universal heiress) of Richard and Mary Vassall, the proprietors of three Jamaican sugar plantations, Elizabeth had the economic clout to establish a name for herself as a scientific patron through travel collecting. All sources indicate that she did this because she had a genuine interest in science, which stemmed from its popularity at the time as an accessible polite pursuit for women and also her imperial connections. The natural resources from the New World provided Elizabeth with the means to build a collection of objects from Europe and across the globe that in turn imbued her with a worldly air and cosmopolitanism appropriate to her status as an heiress and the wife of a major figure in Whig politics. The chapter analyses how Elizabeth used the collection of specimens of natural history to establish a familiarity and ease amongst Europe’s key scientists on her Grand Tour from 1791 to 1796. It uncovers how she developed this network following her return home, arguing that the exchange and display of an ever-increasing array of objects, stemming from her Grand Tour, was a key mechanism by which Elizabeth contributed to the social circulation of science.

in Taking travel home
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Design and embodiment in The Americans
Lucy Fife Donaldson

Set during the 1980s, The Americans (FX, 2013–18) is a US drama series whose narrative combines cold-war spy thriller with family melodrama; a stylish evocation of spycraft in the period embedded within a substantive, emotionally complex serial drama. This chapter illuminates how the style, and stylishness, of the series are made material and dense, through attention to design. Style is often aligned with surface, with artifice, construction, ephemerality. The work of the central characters, Elizabeth and Philip Jennings (played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys), involves inhabiting different styles or disguises, and the design of the programme foregrounds the artifice of their work through surface changes of costume and make-up. Substance, on the other hand, is concerned with complexity, with materiality, thickness, solidity. The layered narrative of The Americans, as well as its historical/political grounding and multifaceted lead performances, delivers such weight and seriousness. Special attention is paid to the intersection of design with Keri Russell’s performance, as her embodiment of Elizabeth Jennings – a key surface in the show’s design – enables a focused opportunity to track the materially meaningful qualities of style. Russell’s performance engages carefully with costume and make-up, to render her character through a meticulous layering of elements: ruthless violence, tender tactility, professional detachment, patriotic dedication, vulnerability and ferociousness.

in Substance / style