A post-genomic forensic crime drama : CSI: crime scene investigation as cultural forum on science
This thesis examines how the first 10 seasons of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS, 2000-) engage with discourses on science. Investigating CSI's representation of scientific practices and knowledge, it explicitly attempts to look beyond the generic assumption that forensic crime dramas simply 'celebrate' science.
The material is analysed at three different levels, studying CSI's wider cultural discursive context, genre linkages, and audio-visual form. In order to fully account for the series' specificity, the thesis undertakes comparative analyses of earlier forensic crime dramas and other relevant audio-visual material. Close textual readings of certain thematic tropes, narrative devices and visual imagery in CSI are thus supplemented by historical studies of their extended generic backgrounds.
This textual-historical approach generates a general argument that CSI dramatizes and evokes a number of different, and often contradictory, scientific ideas, perspectives and discursive shifts. The thesis concludes that CSI stages a transnational cultural forum, simultaneously engaging with residual, dominant and emergent discourses on science. Throughout, close attention is paid to the multiple perspectives and viewpoints that allow the series to appeal to a wide and heterogeneous global audience.
Furthermore, the thesis asserts that CSI specifically articulates a post-genomic structure of feeling, which begins to express the wider cultural implications of an emergent discursive shift whereby the instrumentalisation of molecular science seemingly offers more possibilities for human intervention into biological processes. Thus, the study demonstrates how CSI's discourse on science treats recent scientific developments as engendering a cultural process of redefinition, questioning foundational concepts such as truth, identity, body, kinship and emotions.