In our latest research seminar, Ken Fox and Jane Lovell of CCCU will be exploring the desert in Breaking Bad. 

Canterbury Christ Church University
School of Media Art and Design
Research Seminars 2017-2018
6 December 2017
Powell Building – Pf06
North Holmes Road Campus

“Always the desert …”: a content analysis of the key role of the desert in the narrative seriality and visual storytelling of Breaking Bad (AMC, 2008-2013)

Speakers: Dr Jane Lovell (CCCU) and Dr Ken Fox (CCCU)


The worldwide success of the AMC series Breaking Bad focused much attention on the long form television series as a method of twenty-first century storytelling that captured the zeitgeist but also extended the range of the telling and the tale.

In this paper Jane Lovell and Ken Fox will argue that key to understanding the narrative structure’s seriality in Breaking Bad and the story’s visual power is the role played by the desert in the unfolding drama.


Following Beck’s* (2001) analysis of the desert as trope and terrain we will employ a content analysis of the series to examine when and how the desert is used to develop the narrative, confirm or disrupt seriality, and focus on its use for symbolic and intertextual layering.


  • Beck, J. (2001) “Without Form and Void: the American Desert as Trope and Terrain” Nepantla: Views from South, Volume 2, Issue 1.


Dr Jane Lovell is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Human and Life Sciences. Jane has an MSc Tourism and Environmental Management (Kent University), BA (Hons) American Studies (University of Hull/University of New Mexico, USA) PhD (University of Kent) is a Senior Lecturer in Tourism Management. Her fascination with images of cities, her tourism background and time spent studying at the University of New Mexico, drew her to the representations of Albuquerque and its desert surroundings in Breaking Bad. Jane is co-author of Authentic and Inauthentic Places in Tourism: From Heritage sites to Theme Parks (Routledge, 2017).

Dr Ken Fox is a Principal Lecturer in the School of Media, Art and Design. He has a PhD from Queen Mary, University of London, and his research focuses on notions of the cinematic city and the representation of landscape. Drawn to Breaking Bad initially when a number of friends commented he was beginning to look like Heisenberg. “All you need is the hat”. Immersing himself in the series a fascination with the use of urban and desert spaces emerged. He’s still looking for the right hat.


Powell Building – Pf06
North Holmes Road Campus
Email Dr Andrew Butler – – for further details

— All welcome —