The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy 

Alan McKee’s Guide To Textual Analysis

Alan McKee, an Australian Creative Industries university professor at the University of Technology Sydney  has written a handy beginners guide to textual analysis.

Textual analysis is an attempt to predict what the most likely interpretations of that given text would be, through gathering and analysing information from associated academic research.

Although McKee acknowledges that textual analysis often gets distracted by assumptions about ‘correct’, ‘accurate’ or ‘realistic’ interpretations, he does consider it an important tool to discern viewers interpretations and understandings of media texts, when these assumptions can be avoided.

Without further ado here’s Alan McKee’s guide to textual analysis, or rather a much simplified version of Alan McKee’s guide:

1. Choose your topic of interest.

2. Make your question more specific.

3. List texts relevant to this question from your own experience.

4. Find more texts through academic and popular research.

5. Gather these texts.

6. Watch each example, note how particular textual elements work in each (relationships, character development, story arc involvement).

7. Watch other programs in the same genre to see how they work.

8. Understand the wider semiosphere (world of meaning) as you can, to get a sense as to how these texts fit into the wider context.

9. With all this in mind, return to the texts and attempt likely interpretations of them.

Alan McKee’s guide provides a wonderful simplification of the textual analysis process, which will be extremely helpful throughout this degree. McKee manages to avoid assumptions of viewer ability or level of understanding as a mediating factor for viewer capacity to analyse content, which is wonderfully refreshing as it accepts all viewers as potential analysers.

Catch you later, Louise Alice Wilson



McKee, Alan (2001). A beginner’s guide to textual analysis. Metro Maga- zine, pp. 138-149.