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An examination of superiority theory and power relations within the British sitcom Blackadder.

    This dissertation explores the role of superiority theory and power relations within Blackadder in relation to class and spatial awareness, to see how laughter and joke telling work as expressions of power and audience engagement up to and including the final series, Blackadder Goes Forth. The character of Blackadder is forever in a fight to gain more power over his peers and retain his power from his superiors. Blackadder steps down the social scale throughout the series, but the overall structure within the “trio” of main characters remains the same. Chapter 1 defines superiority theory and explores power relations and the butt of the joke. Chapter 2 explores spatial awareness and the structure of situational comedy, highlighting the importance of each within the overall series of Blackadder. Chapter 3 combines these findings and applies them to Blackadder Goes Forth and the final episode “Goodbyeee”, to interrogate when laughter and power shift. The thesis found that superiority theory applies not just to the characters, but to an audience, and that power relations are critically linked. Spatial awareness was critical to Blackadder after the first series due to the move to studio filming and this went hand-in-hand with the structure of situational comedy, superiority theory and power relations.