Trisha Dunleavy

Trisha Dunleavy profile picture

Associate Professor School of English, Film, Theatre, Media Studies, and Art History


Teaching in 2020

Research interests

Multiplatform Television, Creative Industries (TV and Film), TV Drama, American, British, New Zealand TV, TV Narrative and Aesthetics, Complexity, Transnational TV


PhD Auckland

MA (Hons) Auckland

BA Auckland

Diploma in Teaching Auckland College of Education

Dr Dunleavy completed her MA and PhD between 1994 and 1999, during the formation of Auckland University's Department of Film, Television and Media Studies and, in 1999, was the first of its graduates to gain a PhD. Prior to her appointment at Victoria University of Wellington, Dr Dunleavy lectured in Television and Film Studies at De Montfort University, Leicester. In 2001, she returned to New Zealand to help establish a new programme in Media Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, acting as its Programme Director until early 2003. Dunleavy’s research object is the ever-changing medium of television; specifically its institutions, industries, creative strategies and cultural influence. Her contributions to scholarship have been distinctive and highly valued for their tracing of the influences of media ecologies, policies, philosophies, institutions, and industries through to the outcomes for TV programme conception, design, and production. Accordingly her research interests divide into two main areas, one of which is 'institutional' (TV networks, economics, policy, and creative industries) and the other, 'textual' (narrative form, aesthetics, and complexity). Dunleavy's research has focussed on three countries; the U.S.A., United Kingdom and New Zealand. As a production form that interlinks all of the above instances and interests, high-end long-format TV drama receives the greatest emphasis in her publications. Dunleavy has authored four books and a number of shorter works (articles, book chapters, public report chapters, conference papers and industry presentations). Two of these books (2009 and 2018) are devoted to American and British television. The other two books (2005 and 2011) have focused on New Zealand screen production industries. With around 260 citations so far, Dunleavy’s published work has been influential in both international and national contexts and is read by industry practitioners and policy makers as well as by scholars.

Current research projects

Dr Dunleavy’s largest current project is ‘Transnational TV Drama in the Multiplatform Era’, to be completed with Dr Elke Weissmann (Edgehill University, UK). The project’s central interest is the new opportunities for cross-national and/or cross-platform collaboration between national TV networks and globally-minded ‘premium’ players such as HBO and Netflix, a development exemplified by current Italian-language drama serial, My Brilliant Friend (HBO/RAI).

Areas of supervision

  • Television in the Multiplatform Era
  • Creative Industries - TV and Film (U.S.A., U.K., New Zealand)
  • High-End TV Drama (American, British, New Zealand, Danish)
  • Narrative and Aesthetic Complexity in Long-Format TV Serials
  • Selected recently completed dissertations include:

  • # Pretty Little Liars: ABC Family in TV's Post-Network Era
  • Small Country, Big Films: An Analysis of the New Zealand Feature Film Industry (2002-12)
  • Homeland and The Killing: Format Adaptation and High-End Drama
  • New Zealand Public Television, Public Service and Everything In-Between: the Success and Struggles of New Zealand in Air and Public Television
  • Layered Flow: Transnational Adaptations of High-End Drama
  • MTV's The Hills: A Leading American Docusoap

Major achievements

  • Contributions to the establishment of Media Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, including the design of the BA major and initial convening of the first subject courses
  • My four book-length publications
  • Victoria University 'Excellence in Teaching' Award
  • Invited Contributions to Reports on Public Media
  • Authoring “The Television Story” on NZ’s online encyclopaedia, Te Ara.
  • My work as an early member of Executive Committee of the National Association of Media Educators (NAME), then called the Association of Film and Television Teachers (AFTT).

Selection of publications


Trisha Dunleavy (2018) Complex Serial Drama and Multiplatform Television, New York: Routledge.

Trisha Dunleavy and Hester Joyce (2011) New Zealand Film and Television: Institution, Industry and Cultural Change, Bristol: Intellect Books and Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Trisha Dunleavy (2009) Television Drama: Form, Agency, Innovation, Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Trisha Dunleavy (2005) Ourselves in Primetime: A History of New Zealand Television Drama, Auckland: Auckland University Press.

Book Chapters

Trisha Dunleavy (2018) “BBC’s Life on Mars: Contemporary Quality Drama, UK Style”, in Douglas L. Howard and David Bianculli (eds.) Finale: the Ends of Television Shows, Syracuse: University of Syracuse Press.

Trisha Dunleavy (2016) “Crossing New Boundaries in Public TV Drama: The Transnational Success of Denmark’s Forbrydelsen”, in Gregory Ferrell Lowe and Nobuto Yamamoto (eds.) Crossing Borders and Boundaries in Public Service Media, Gothenburg: Nordicom, pp. 201-14.

Trisha Dunleavy (2010) “New Zealand on Air, Public Service Television, and TV Drama”, Chapter 23 in Petros Iosifidis (ed.) Reinventing Public Service Communication: European Broadcasters and Beyond, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 298-310.

Trisha Dunleavy (2004) “Made in New Zealand: the Genre of Drama”, Television in New Zealand: Programming the Nation, Roger Horrocks and Nick Perry (eds.) Melbourne: Oxford University Press, pp. 203-21.

Journal Articles

Trisha Dunleavy (2009) “Public Television in a Small Country: the New Zealand ‘Experiment’ 20 Years On”, FlowTV, Issue 9.13, May.

Trisha Dunleavy (2009) “Strategies of Innovation in ‘High-End’ TV Drama: the Contribution of Cable” FlowTV, Issue 9.08, March.

Trisha Dunleavy (2008) “New Zealand Television and the Struggle for ‘Public Service’”, Media, Culture and Society, Sage Publications, Vol.30 No.6, November, pp. 795-811.

Trisha Dunleavy (2005) “Popular ‘Series’ Drama in TV’s Multi-Channel Age” introductory essay for a themed issue of Media International Australia, ‘Popular TV Drama: Nation, Agency, Identity’, Trisha Dunleavy and Pieter Maria Aquilia (eds.), No. 115, May, pp. 5-22.

Trisha Dunleavy (2005) “Coronation Street, Neighbours, Shortland Street: Localness and Universality in the Primetime Soap”, Television and New Media, Vol 6. No. 4, November

Trisha Dunleavy (2003) “A Soap of Our Own: New Zealand’s Shortland Street”, themed issue of Media International Australia entitled ‘Soap Operas and Telenovelas’, No. 106, February, pp. 18-34.

Trisha Dunleavy (1997) “Shortland Street’s Elusive Haven: the Unstable Community as Metaphor in the Prime-Time Soap Opera”, Metro, Journal of the Association of Australasian Teachers of Media Studies (ATOM) No.112, pp. 22-27.

Public Report Chapters and Related Contributions

Trisha Dunleavy (2017) “The New Zealand Experience”, an invited chapter for Contestable Funding for Public Service Content, European Broadcasting Union, Geneva: European Broadcasting Union, pp.10-35.

Trisha Dunleavy (2015) “The Television Story”, Te Ara the Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. I authored the “Television Story” pages of this site at the invitation of Dr. Jock Philips at the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. This multi-faceted entry features detailed coverage of news, drama, documentaries, and the evolution of New Zealand television as a medium.

Trisha Dunleavy (2012) “New Zealand-Produced Programming and the Importance of TV Content Regulation”. Part of a public seminar series on ‘Public Broadcasting in New Zealand’ organised by Dr Richard Norman of Victoria University of Wellington’s Institute of Policy Studies, August.

Trisha Dunleavy (2012) “The Threatened Genres: Drama and Comedy”, Chapter 8 in Paul Norris and Brian Pauling (eds.) NZ On Air: An Evaluative Study from 1989-2011, a Research Report prepared for New Zealand on Air, December, pp. 43-58.

University Conference Papers

Trisha Dunleavy (2018) “Transnational and Trans-Tasman Long-Format Drama in TV’s Multiplatform Era: the Australasian Success of 800 Words” presented at Transnational TV Drama, Aarhus University, Denmark, June.

Trisha Dunleavy (2017) “Complex Serial Drama and Multiplatform Television: An American Case Study”, presented at The Aesthetics of Television Serials, University of Valencia (Gandia Campus), November.

Trisha Dunleavy (2016) “Sea Change in American Television: The Post-Network Era, Non-Broadcast TV Drama, and the Rise of the ‘Complex Drama Serial’”, Keynote paper for Sea Change: Transforming Industries, Screens, Texts, the annual conference of the Screen Studies Association of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, Victoria University of Wellington, November.

Trisha Dunleavy (2016) “Mad Men and Complex Seriality”, presented at Mad Men The Conference, Middle Tennessee State University and University of Salford, Murfreesboro, May.

Trisha Dunleavy (2014) “Transnational Television, High-End Drama, and the Case of Denmark’s Forbrydelsen”, paper published in proceedings of the RIPE (Re-Visionary Interpretations of the Public Enterprise) 2014 conference, ‘Public Service Media Across Boundaries’, held at Keio University, Tokyo, August.

Trisha Dunleavy (2012)“Maximising Public Value in Costly Areas of Production: TV Drama and the ‘New Zealand on Air’ Model”, paper published in proceedings of the RIPE (Re-Visionary Interpretations of the Public Enterprise) 2012 conference, ‘Value for Public Money-Money for Public Value’, held at University of Sydney, September.

Trisha Dunleavy (2010) “Television New Zealand and the Charter: the Uneasy Reconciliation of Public Service and Commercialism”, paper published in proceedings of the RIPE (Re-Visionary Interpretations of the Public Enterprise) 2014 conference, ‘Public Service Media after the Recession’, University of Westminster, London, September.

Trisha Dunleavy (2007) “New Zealand Television and the Struggle for ‘Public Service’” at the MEDIANZ Conference, Victoria University of Wellington, February.

Media Industry Presentations and Seminars

Trisha Dunleavy and Andrew Shaw (2017) “What’s the Key to Drama’s Global Expansion?”, Keynote session at The Magic of Collaboration, the Annual Conference of the Screen Production and Development Association (SPADA), November.

Trisha Dunleavy and Jane Wrightson (2016) “New Zealand Television and the Contribution of New Zealand on Air”. An invited hour-long presentation given via Webex to members of the October 2016 Assembly of the European Broadcasting Union, October.

Trisha Dunleavy (2011) “New Zealand-Domiciled Screen Production: Institution, Industry, and Cultural Identity”, Media and Film Studies Research Seminar, Victoria University of Wellington, April.

Trisha Dunleavy (2011) “Success and Sustainability for New Zealand’s TV Drama” at the Annual Conference of Screen Production and Development Association (SPADA), at Sky City Convention Centre, Auckland, November.

Trisha Dunleavy (2011) “The Free-to-Air Sector in New Zealand Television’s Digital Era”. Paper presented at the Forum on the Future of Public Television in New Zealand, a symposium held at Victoria University of Wellington, June.

Trisha Dunleavy (2006) “Institution, Agency, Identity: TV Drama Production in New Zealand”.  Presentation given as the staff research seminar at three New Zealand universities: Otago (August) Auckland (September) and Victoria (October).

Trisha Dunleavy (2005) “New Zealand Television Drama: Past, Present and Future”, invited keynote address at New Zealand on Air’s one-day industry symposium on New Zealand-Produced Television Drama, Auckland: Sorrento Ballroom, July.

View all publications by Trisha Dunleavy


Teaching in 2020