Contesting Canon: Authorship, Authority and Audiences in Transmedia Narrative Franchises.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Culture, Film and Media


The thesis will develop a model of transmedia authorship that illustrates how authorial authority and canonicity are constructed by both industry discourse and fan commentary within multiply-authored transmedia narrative franchises. Chosen because issues of authority and canonicity are prominent in fan discourses, four case studies will test this model: Disney's recently acquired 'Star Wars'; G.R.R. Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' and its HBO TV adaptation 'Game of Thrones'; A. Sapkowski's 'The Witcher' saga, its CD Projekt's game adaptation and Netflix's TV adaptation; Games Workshop's 'Warhammer 40,000' franchise, based on the eponymous tabletop miniature wargame. The thesis will analyse fan discourses on platforms such as Twitter and Reddit with regard to perceived problematic aspects of canon and attachment to a specific authorial voice, and the ways in which fan opinions of authors and IP owners contributes to canon contestation. Relevant paratexts (e.g. the trade press) will also be analysed to ascertain how media industries construct canon (particularly with regard to the role that IP owners play) and to determine how the authors of the different elements of the transmedia franchise assert their authorial authority through promotional discourses. Narrative analysis of elements of each franchise will determine the relationship amongst storyworlds on different platforms and the overall level of narrative coherence. Triangulating these evidence sources will lead to a greater understanding of the ways in which the industry invites audiences to engage with transmedia storyworlds and how audiences react to assertations of centralised authorial authority.


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