“Neither the sure prevention of war, nor the continuous rise of world organization will be gained without what I have called the fraternal association of the English-speaking peoples . . . a special relationship between the British Commonwealth and Empire and the United States.”  –Winston Churchill, “Sinews of Peace Address,” 1946




The concept behind A Special Relationship began with my examinations of dialect in representations of the American Revolution (aka the American War of Independence, 1775-1783) in media like radio drama, film, and television.  My definition of dialect is taken from Alan Beck who wrote in Radio Acting (1997) that dialect refers to more than just a regional pronunciation:  it includes details on a character’s geographical region, social class, gender, age, style, and subgroup.

“So dialect faces the actor with the sum total of what language is.   It is about pronunciation, the voice stream, grammar, meaning, and vocabulary, and about class, gender, politics, and geography, the passing of time, and even religion” (Beck 1997: 110).

As I began to explore the nuances of this concept, I realised there was a much broader issue at stake.  The relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom has had many tonal permutations over the centuries before the American Revolution and up to the present day, the “special relationship” rhetoric notwithstanding.  The vast majority of people experience these relationships through media like films and television, from Hugh Grant’s self-effacing British Prime Minister standing up to overbearing, George W. Bush-like US President (played by Billy Bob Thornton) in Love Actually (2003) to the participatory quirk of so-British “Inspector Spacetime” in Community (2009-15).

This blog, then, is meant to be an interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary space to explore these themes in a constructive way.  The blog setting—as opposed to a more formal journal article structure—is introduced to allow for more flexibility.  Blog posts can—and in this context, should—be shorter and more informal than traditional journal articles, a springboard for the development of original, complex ideas that are nevertheless formulated with a more spontaneous, less academic tone.  To that end, embedded links rather than formal citation systems are encouraged, where possible, so that an intelligent and engaged audience can be reached, one that is not necessarily deeply embedded in academic culture.  For more information on the tone and modus operandi, please see the Sounding Out! sound studies blog as an example.

While originally this idea is rooted in sound and voice, the blog expands to cover all things audiovisual.  This blog is not limited to any particular time period or medium, as long as it is reasonably accessible rather than esoteric, including but not limited to

  • Film
  • Television
  • Radio
  • Video games
  • Comics
  • Online media
  • Novels
  • Stage plays
  • Poetry

The focus will for the moment be on fictional(ized) media but may expand beyond this original brief.

I invite contributions (in the form of blog posts) in or across the following broad areas and themes:

  • Dialect and indices of villainy (aka why are the bad guys always British)?
  • Performativity
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Class
  • Challenging/reinforcing stereotypes
  • Media and public service broadcasting contexts
  • Regionalisms
  • All aspects of nationality and nationhood
  • Borderlands and borderlines
  • Education
  • Politics
  • Authorship
  • Intertextuality
  • Music
  • Fandom
  • Linguistics
  • Ethnography
  • Religion
  • Colonialism and imperialism

The blog will focus on writers at the University of Salford with occasional forays beyond this field.

Happy reading!


–Leslie McMurtry (l.g.mcmurtry@salford.ac.uk)