Naylor, Tom (2019) Paratextual Battlegrounds and Critical Power Struggles: Justice League, Black Panther, and Contemporary Film Reception. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This explorative work shall consider two blockbuster case studies in Justice League (Snyder, 2017) and Black Panther (Coogler, 2018), assessing how contemporary film reception aids our understanding of power dynamics in the era of social media. I develop ideas of how paratexts work in a contemporary online world, complicating Jonathan Gray’s description of ‘thresholds’ (2010) and introducing the term ‘paratextual battlegrounds’ to depict paratexts as sites of contestation, where the meaning of a text is struggled over. The power of contemporary participatory culture (Jenkins, 2006) has shown traditional hierarchies of power are becoming increasingly vulnerable to challenge from outsider sources and will lead to a reassessment of Pierre Bourdieu’s field theory (1993) that acknowledges this shift. By considering three case studies in contemporary film criticism, I show that we must revisit and revise field theory to accommodate the multiple positions contemporary critics can assume, while also theorising the role of aggregator sites such as Rotten Tomatoes as para-paratexts (Hills, 2015a) sparking producer and fan anxieties. This will ultimately reveal that a contained or co-opted reconfiguration of power has occurred in contemporary social media which invites us to explore the tensions between traditional industry figures and the new possibilities enabled by online sites to complicate dominant positionings and paratextual framings of blockbuster franchises as well as specific films.

FINAL THESIS - NAYLOR.pdf - Accepted Version
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