The Simpsons, Episode 1 7

UPDATE: If you’ve come to this post looking for information about content analysis, you might be better served looking here, where I’ve written up a more detailed and logical post.

This blog is about to have a new regular topic because I agreed on my thesis focus topic with my supervisor today and I’m keen to document the whole process. There will be two types of posts. The first type will be tagged ‘reflections’ and will discuss the process of preparing, researching and writing the thesis. The second type will be snippets of the research itself, and other notes and ideas that won’t be part of the final work.

Without further ado, the topic will be ‘representations of non-American characters in The Simpsons‘. It will take some refining to narrow this down into a workable topic for an 18,000 word thesis, but I’m really keen for it. The research could go in a number of directions. It could look at visits by the Simpson family to foreign countries, portrayals of the recurring non-American characters (Apu, Willie, Ooter), or changes over time. It could even be a combination of all of these.

Of course, there are a lot of contentious issues in this topic, including the obvious one of how the American and non-American characters are defined. I’m keen to explore the whole issue of the cultural relationships aspect more so than getting involved in strict definitions.

I’ll get to apply a whole heap of research skills, including textual and content analysis, aspects of social studies, and maybe even some focus groups. I’m also really pleased to be working with Dean Chan as my supervisor. I couldn’t ask for a better, or friendlier guy. It also suits his background quite well, which is helpful. Dean even suggested I might be able to give a guest lecture to his 2nd years, which is a really great opportunity.

The project will give me a great chance to examine this influential cultural text from a whole new perspective, demonstrate my ability to really analyse media texts, and hopefully expose some interesting aspects to mediated inter cultural communication. Plus, it gives me a good chance to watch 500 episodes of my favourite TV show.

I’d be grateful of any advice or any useful sources or research anyone can point out.