This dissertation studies the issue of dubbing for television series from a double perspective that combines, on the one hand, interpretive semiotics, and on the other hand audience studies. The research question – how do audiences in Italy and Mexico interpret dubbed American television series? – is born from the observation that in the most significative research projects on the perception of foreign television programs, linguistic adaptation had been often seen as a quasi-transparent element that neither adds nor removes anything from the reception experience. Instead, the objective of the project is to point out the changes in meaning that are created in the text at the time of the adaptation and the role of dubbing in audiences’ understanding of international audiovisual texts. The dissertation aims offering a complete vision of the phenomenon; hence, it includes an overview of the technical aspects of dubbing, a comparative textual analysis of the dubbed versions of two American series (The Big Bang Theory and The Walking Dead) as well as an empirical study with audiences in Italy and Mexico. The main goal of the textual analysis was observing the adaptation of culture- specific elements, as the basis to identify the tendency of each dubbed version towards exoticization (remaining faithful to the source culture) or naturalization (becoming closer to the target culture) in the creation of new Model Readers for the text. The empirical study consisted on twenty-two qualitative interviews with a total of twenty- five audience members from both Italy and Mexico. The participants proved to be competent viewers who knew the conventions of dubbing and subtitling as adaptation methods, as well as the changes that these can bring to the television programs. They also showed clear awareness of the cultural specificity of American series and were eager to grasp the references they contain. In this research project, dubbing reveals itself as a factor that has a weight in the understanding of foreign television and as a topic worth of deeper academic investigation in the field of international audience studies.
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