Titel: ‘Evil Heroes’ in Black Sails – A Case Study: How Character Complexity and Nonverbal Actions Invite Positive Viewer Responses
Sonstige Titel: "Evil Heroes" in Black Sails - Fallstudie: Wie Charakterkomplexität und nonverbale Handlungen positive Zuschauerreaktionen hervorrufen können
Sprache: Englisch
Autor*in: Friedrich, Kathrin
Schlagwörter: Black Sails; Case study; Nonverbal actions; Evil Hero; Viewer response; cognitive film studies; Influence; quality television
GND-Schlagwörter: LiteraturGND
Erscheinungsdatum: 2021-06
Tag der mündlichen Prüfung: 2021-11-26
Using the serial Black Sails, this thesis examines how character complexity and nonverbal actions invite positive viewer responses towards its ‘evil heroes’.
I define these characters as ‘morally questionable’, because they harm, hurt, kill, and/or act greedily. I investigate why, audiences tend to respond well to these protagonists despite their questionable behaviour that violates cultural norms, laws, and ethics.
To widen the current focus on character engagement in existing research, I carry out a case study using the protagonists John Silver and James Flint from the serial Black Sails (2014–2017). Employing a close reading method applied to motion pictures, I analyse selected scenes from Black Sails, focusing on two questions. First, can the character James Flint be integrated into literary history as a successor of Milton’s Satan from Paradise Lost (1667) and Byron’s Conrad from The Corsair (1814)? Second, can positive nonverbal cues carried out by the actors while portraying the characters invite positive responses despite the characters’ morally questionable behaviour?
I use an interdisciplinary approach to integrate literature from relevant research fields such as cognitive media theory, literary and film theory, and, where applicable, from neuroscience, communication studies, psychology, and sociology.
I investigate the subtle influences lying beneath the narrative’s plot that can affect the audience’s assessment of these characters arguing that nonverbal cues and character complexity can influence the audience subliminally. Selected examples illustrate how creating complex characters tends to support a positive viewer reaction by making the character relatable and ‘real’.
The two strands of my research thus proposes to make two main contributions to the field of character engagement. Firstly, it shows that current evil heroes are embedded in literary history, as Flint aligns with Byron’s Corsair and even stronger with Milton’s Satan. Secondly, my thesis demonstrates the importance of character complexity, establishes that complexity can be conveyed with various methods, and examines the importance of nonverbal actions in creating complex characters to whom the audience responds well.
URL: https://ediss.sub.uni-hamburg.de/handle/ediss/9355
URN: urn:nbn:de:gbv:18-ediss-97210
Dokumenttyp: Dissertation
Bemerkung: This dissertation was conducted as a Joint PhD, as part of the Joint PhD programme between UHH and Macquarie University, Sydney.
Betreuer*in: Garde, Ulrike
Zumbusch, Cornelia
Enthalten in den Sammlungen:Elektronische Dissertationen und Habilitationen

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