Polysemic rhetorical flexibility and non-traditional audience reception in Doctor Who

This is a paper I co-authored with Dr. CarrieLynn Reinhard of Dominican University. We presented it at the Midwest Popular Culture Association conference that took place from Oct 11-13 in St. Louis, MO. We are currently working on expanding the paper and revising it for publication. As always, we welcome any and all feedback on how to improve the paper.

“I AM THE DOCTOR”: POLYSEMIC RHETORICAL FLEXIBILITY AND NON-TRADITIONAL AUDIENCE RECEPTION IN DOCTOR WHO

Taking a methodological stance that combines political economic industry analysis, rhetorical text criticism and audience/reception analysis, this paper is an examination of the historical trajectory of the long-running BBC series Doctor Who focusing on the interplay between the rhetoric of the text and the nature of its audiences. The examination posits that this interplay results from the one influencing the other as the series strives to maintain rhetorical cohesion – retaining a core rhetorical, narrative and aesthetic identity — and sociocultural relevance – building and maintain a loyal viewership upon which its livelihood depends. This balancing act means that changes in the one will elicit changes in the other, with no perfect middle ground yet reached.

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