Law, Society and Popular Culture


Television drama, law and national identity

Law 18 October 2018

Stack of paper

Symposium Announcement and First Call for Papers

Friday 6 September 2019

Television drama plays a seminal role in the cultural life of nations, and the way in which it depicts national identities merits scholarly exploration.  In this regard national identity’s relationship with law as its crystallisation is particularly worthy of academic attention and lends itself to interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives.  Police, crime, justice and dystopian dramas frequently place law and social attitudes to law centre-stage in the delineation of national identity. 

Television drama may be perceived as a communicative event in which history is transformed into myth through a stylised set of codes.  The transmission of coded messages about national identity, and their interpretation (both hegemonic and oppositional) become particularly worthy of analysis as the nation comes under strain through patterns of globalised and regional integration coupled with acts of national resistance.  Multiple genres of television drama provide scope for the expression of national identity, including the use by period dramas of creative nostalgia to represent the contemporary nation or the warnings to the nation posed by science fiction television.  In all contexts the interplay between projections of national identity and television’s treatment of race, class and gender warrants critical scrutiny.  

Proposals for 20-minute papers are therefore invited for a symposium on 6 September 2019, to be held in the University of Westminster’s historic Regent Street building just metres away from BBC headquarters.  Possible subjects for papers might include, but are by no means limited to:

  • is national identity empirical or normative in television drama?
  • internet/social media amplification of debates on TV drama, law and identity
  • national identity on television as ideology
  • depictions of trials and national identity
  • national security dramas: ‘war against terrorism’, identity and law(lessness)
  • political dramas: uniform global elite or national diversity?
  • fan responses to the portrayal of the nation
  • globalisation/globalised law – depicted as threat to national identity?
  • feminist crime drama and national identity
  • science fiction or dystopian fiction, law and national identity
  • ‘heritage’ drama: commodification of (rose-tinted) ideas of national identity for global consumption?

Abstracts should be 250 words in length, accompanied by a 100-word biography of the author, and sent to [email protected] by the deadline of 1 February 2019.

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