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How audiences engage with dark television

The eight-season-long HBO television adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones was an international sensation, generating intense debates and controversies in many spheres. In 2016–17, an international research project gathered more than 10,000 responses to a complex online survey, in which people told of their feelings and judgements towards the series. The project was an ambitious attempt to explore the role that ‘fantasy’ plays in contemporary society. This book presents the project’s major outcomes. It explores people’s choices of favourite characters and survivors. It looks at the way modern works of fantasy relate to people’s sense of their own world, and what is happening to it. It explores the way that particular televisual decisions have generated controversies, most notably in relation to presentations of nudity, sex and sexual violence. The book uses the project’s distinctive methodology to draw out seven ways in which audiences watched the series, and shows how these lead to different responses and judgements. Notably, it leads to a reconsideration of the idea of ‘lurking’ as a problematic way of participating. A pair of complex emotions – relish and anguish – is used to make sense of the different ways that audiences engaged with the ongoing TV show. The book closes with an examination of the debates over the final season, and the ways in which audiences demanded ‘deserved’ endings for all the characters, and for themselves as fans.

The repatriation of the Kandyan regalia to Ceylon
Robert Aldrich

The regalia of a monarchy are its most potent symbols. In the Western tradition, they include a throne, crown, sceptre and sword, objects made of precious metals and gemstones and richly decorated with heraldic and symbolic motifs. 1 Often they are of considerable age and historical significance and invested with a quasi-religious aura. They figure in coronation ceremonies and other state occasions

in Crowns and colonies
Royal tours of ‘Africa Italiana’ under fascism
Mark Seymour

title, Mussolini had from the outset positioned himself as the heir-apparent to ancient Rome’s imperial tradition, and Victor Emmanuel seemed to perch only awkwardly on the throne behind the power. Nevertheless, the king ultimately made more tours of the Italian colonies than did Mussolini. Indeed, all royal tours of Italian foreign possessions took place within the fascist period. The first, to Tripolitania (the northwestern

in Royals on tour
European colonisers and indigenous monarchs
Robert Aldrich

The gallery illustrated the breadth of a French empire extending over large parts of Africa, the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia, but also pointed to a strategy of imperialist rule not reserved to the French: the overthrow and exile of indigenous rulers who resisted foreign takeover, rebelled against the new masters of their countries, or were regarded by colonisers as unfit to remain on their thrones. That

in Banished potentates
Martin Barker, Clarissa Smith, and Feona Attwood

Game of Thrones – a cultural phenomenon of our times. Initially the name of the first book in George R. R. Martin's trilogy in (probably) seven parts – a book series that began quite small but went on to break various records for sales. Then, the adopted title of the eight-season HBO TV series – at its outset the most expensive TV series ever filmed, beginning with modest audiences but soon the triumphal topper of lists and winner of awards (including Emmys, for four years running). A rare case where a book-based TV

in Watching Game of Thrones
Jack Holland

Chaos is a ladder. Lord Petyr Baelish (Littlefinger) Introduction In mid-April 2016, HBO was hyping the new sixth season of Game of Thrones , due to start in one week. Such was the success of the show that commentators were noting how all others trailed far behind HBO’s standard-bearer. 1 Posters and trailers, alongside programmes recapping the ten most shocking moments to date, helped to ignite the passions of avid viewers eagerly awaiting the show’s return and, potentially, several of its key cast members. Viewers were teased and enticed to

in Fictional television and American Politics
Elizabeth I’s death rehearsal
Scott L. Newstok

to reassure a distressed nation. The reaffirmation of an extended line of kings and queens can likewise provide some reassurance that the throne will not turn into a tomb. Camden’s The Remains Concerning Britain (1605–1623) provides a good example of this practice. While he generally seeks to gather and categorise antiquarian material (‘rude rubble and out

in Goddesses and Queens
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Great Britain on the London stages under James VI and I

This book looks at the interrelationship between nationalism and theatre in the Jacobean period. It also looks at the creation of a British identity brought about by the accession of King James VI of Scotland to the English throne in 1603. The most significant political legacy of James's national project was the creation of an emphatically British identity among the settlers from both England and Scotland who planted Ulster. A series of plays in London's theatres was staging the lives of a group of earlier British rulers. The theatre of the Jacobean period does not rest on Shakespeare alone. What emerges in the study of the London stages in this period is that his work fits into a wider framework of dramatic material discoursing on not just the Union, but on issues of war, religion and overseas exploration. Under James VI and I, the discourse on empire changed to meet the new expansion overseas, and also the practicality of a Scottish king whose person fulfilled the criteria of King of 'Great Britain' in a way that Elizabeth never could. For James VI and I, Shakespeare's play was a celebration of the British imperium that seemed secure in the figures of Henry, Prince of Wales, Prince Charles and the Princess Elizabeth. The repertoire of the theatre companies suggests that in terms of public opinion there was a great deal of consensus regarding the direction of foreign policy.

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‘If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention’
Martin Barker, Clarissa Smith, and Feona Attwood

When we launched our questionnaire, season 6 of Game of Thrones was underway, and seasons 7 and 8 had not yet entered production. The responses we gathered captured GoT in mid-flight. Of course, it would be fascinating to have also taken responses to the series finale, but in light of the raging disappointment which occurred in the immediate aftermath of those final six episodes it seems likely that the only information that we might have gleaned would be centred on whether the ending was satisfactory, and the revisioning of earlier seasons

in Watching Game of Thrones
From 9/11 to Donald Trump
Author: Jack Holland

American television was about to be revolutionised by the advent of video on demand in 2007, when Netflix, having delivered over one billion DVDs, introduced streaming. This book explores the role that fictional television has played in the world politics of the US in the twenty-first century. It focuses on the second golden age of television, which has coincided with the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald J. Trump. The book is structured in three parts. Part I considers what is at stake in rethinking the act of watching television as a political and academic enterprise. Part II considers fictional television shows dealing explicitly with the subject matter of formal politics. It explores discourses of realpolitik in House of Cards and Game of Thrones, arguing that the shows reinforce dominant assumptions that power and strategy inevitably trump ethical considerations. It also analyses constructions of counterterrorism in Homeland, The West Wing, and 24, exploring the ways in which dominant narratives have been contested and reinforced since the onset of the War on Terror. Part III considers television shows dealing only implicitly with political themes, exploring three shows that make profound interventions into the political underpinnings of American life: The Wire, The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. Finally, the book explores the legacies of The Sopranos and Mad Men, as well as the theme of resistance in The Handmaid's Tale.