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The Brazilian television mini-series: representing the culture, values and identity of a nation

Brennan, Niall (2012) The Brazilian television mini-series: representing the culture, values and identity of a nation. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the Brazilian television mini-series as a cultural form in the media landscape of Brazil, examining it as a reflection of the political, cultural and social history of Brazil. The research question asks in what ways does the Brazilian television miniseries represent continuity and change in Brazilian national culture, values and identity. In this thesis, I construct a theoretical framework based on two strands of the concept of hybridity: the sociocultural dimensions of hybridity in the postcolonial context, and the textual-generic implications of hybridity for popular texts, their producing institutions,and their readers and viewers. Methodologically, my sample consists of 41 mini-series from a twenty-five year production history. I also engage with press commentary on the mini-series and conduct interviews with mini-series creators. The analysis examines the discourses that these sources produce in tandem with tools from television studies. In this study, I find that Brazilian national culture is represented by geography and gender. Geography serves as a physical and symbolic mode of representation in the mini-series. We witness historical and contemporary negotiations of the temporal and spatial divides that separate the foreign from the Brazilian, and we often follow stories about ‘becoming Brazilian’. Gender appears through a practice-based discourse that informs the difference between the emotional and educational dimensions of the genre. Gender also appears in the mini-series narratives through the archetypes of sufferer and malandro, who in turn reflect the transgressions and the limits of gendered representations in Brazilian popular culture. In relation to national values, I find a continuous dialectical exchange between authority and resistance in the mini-series’ historical and contemporary representations of Brazil. Not only do authority and resistance transcend the value frameworks of class, family, morals and politics in the mini-series narratives, but they also inform the ways in which creators assert their position in the space of Brazilian television production. Critics express resistance to the narratives and the institutions producing the mini-series as well, which enables us to recognize a wariness of the historical tendency of Brazilian television to insert its values into the public sphere. Finally, I find that Brazilian national identity is represented by a mix of foreign and national traditions in the mini-series form, and by strategies that differ from conventional narrative modes. These qualities demonstrate the persistence of tensions between the foreign and the national and imitation and originality that have defined negotiations with modernity in Brazil, but they also show how these tensions have shifted inward to reflect Brazil’s changing awareness of its role on a global stage. In addition to the social, cultural, political and institutional dimensions of Brazilian experience that this study reveals through the mini-series, it adds to knowledge on the ways in which cultural forms enter and shape public discourse about nationhood.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Niall Brennan
Library of Congress subject classification: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Supervisor: Livingstone, Sonia
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/505

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