12 Pages

Introduction: The pleasures of the tube


When Charlotte Brunsdon (1997) first asked ‘What is the “television” of television studies?’ she was attempting to define, specify, and historicise not only what ‘television’ refers to but also the divergent approaches, assumptions, influential discourses, and disciplinary backgrounds and tensions which have sought to theorise this thing we call TV. In a similar vein we want to articulate the same kind of epistemological strategy, although less broadly and with less retrospection, in asking: ‘what might the “queer” of a queer television studies be?’ From this first central question arise a host of others. How can we queerly theorise and understand television? How can we as queers make sense of television? What might it mean to think through (and about) the medium of television and its distinctive characteristics from the perspective of queerness – queerness, that is, as a location of sexual alterity, as desire, and as a praxis of dissidence and political abrasion? And how can the realms of television studies and queer theory – both large bodies of output that have only occasionally made contact with each other – be brought together, in ways that are hopefully beneficial and productive for both? These queries and concerns serve as the driving force of this collection as a whole, and link together the disparate essays contained within its pages.