Keeping the myth of the British Empire alive: combining a multi-semiotic analysis of two BBC travel documentaries with audience research

Conference paper


Castaldi, J. 2022. Keeping the myth of the British Empire alive: combining a multi-semiotic analysis of two BBC travel documentaries with audience research.
AuthorsCastaldi, J.
TypeConference paper
Description

Recently there has been a more critical assessment of the role of the British Empire and of the ways it conducted its business in various parts of the world (e.g. Anderson, 2005; Elkins, 2005; Tharoor, 2016; Wiener, 2008). The compensation received by a group of 33 former members of Eoka from the British Government in an out-of-court settlement last year, for human rights abuses during the Greek Cypriot struggle for independence, reflected this at an institutional level. Media coverage of this and similar disputes have contributed to an increased awareness amongst the public of some of the crimes committed during the years of the empire by the British occupying forces. Despite this, recent national opinion polls (YouGov, 2014, 2016, 2019) suggest that the history of the British Empire is still seen in a favourable way by a significant part of the population.
The paper attempts to address this seeming discrepancy between increased critical attention towards the British Empire and the lenient attitude of public opinion towards its legacy by arguing that popular British media plays a role in keeping the myth of the Empire alive. In order to do so, the paper discusses two case studies from my on-going research, which combines tools from the field of Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis (Kress and van Leeuwen 1996, 2001; van Leeuwen 2005; Machin and Mayr 2012) and elements of Audience Research (e.g. Schrøder et al., 2003) for the exploration of the participants’ interaction with the television programme of their choice.
Although the specificity of the case studies needs to be taken into consideration, the findings point towards a correlation between the way popular media portrays the British Empire and the way audiences come to perceive it.

KeywordsMultimodality; Travel documentaries; Audience research; British Empire
Year2022
Conference4th International Conference on Semiotics and Visual Communication
Official URLhttps://cyprus-semiotics.org/
Publication process dates
Deposited05 Oct 2022
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/92qq8/keeping-the-myth-of-the-british-empire-alive-combining-a-multi-semiotic-analysis-of-two-bbc-travel-documentaries-with-audience-research

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