CFP: Musicals at the Margins

May 6, 2017 by

Deadline for submissions: July 17, 2017

While the musical for much of its existence has had a relatively ‘strong’ generic identity, the genre’s central semantic element, the musical number, is also widespread in films not understood to be musicals. Generic transformations since the late 1970s, as well as technological, cultural, and industrial change, have produced greater instability in our collective understanding of what a musical is. Recent research has focused on the song in film (e.g. Dyer 2011; Spring 2013)or on musical moments (Conrich and Tincknell 2006), while recent scholarship on both the musical and on music and film in the context of the musical has begun to look beyond both the usual canonical texts and the genre’s usual identification with studio-era Hollywood (e.g. Kessler 2010; Creekmur and Mokdad 2012; Garcia 2014). Yet a narrowly-defined canon still dominates discussions of the musical as a genre and remains the basis of its most influential theorisations.

This collection of essays will focus on the genre’s unstable edges and the margins and boundaries of the musical as a genre, seeking to contribute to genre studies by investigating one particular case of the instability of a film genre and how genre can be contested at the levels of industry, text, and/or reception. Why are particular films marginalised in scholarship and public discourse? What is lost through a strong emphasis on the canon? And how do films that challenge established theorisations of the musical become confined to the boundaries of the genre?

We invite proposals for chapters approaching this topic from a range of angles, historical periods, and (inter)national contexts. We are interested in considering why certain films have been marginalised despite their evident commonalities with the genre’s canon, as well as what is at stake for films questioning, bending, or playing with the musical genre.

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Boundary cases in various national cinemas, historical eras, industrial contexts
  • Films whose generic status have shifted over time
  • The core and the periphery of the musical
  • Sub-genres and cycles at the margins
  • Stars within these texts
  • Authors of boundary cases (directors, screenwriters, producers, music publishers, etc.)
  • How gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity impacts on the generic status of these films
  • The body and the edges of the musical
  • Promotion, publicity, and reception of films at the margins
  • Specific film studios or production companies
  • Analysis of cultural factors that impact on these marginal cases
  • Musicals marginalised in scholarship
  • Musicals in media beyond film (television, web series, etc.)
  • Animated films as musicals
  • Music films (jazz films, rock films, hip hop films, etc.)

Submission Guidelines:

Please submit your abstracts of no more than 500 words and a brief 100-word bio via email to both editors by Monday 17th July 2017. We have already had a positive initial response to this project from a highly respected academic publisher.  We anticipate that finished essays will be approximately 6000 words in length, including footnotes. Acceptance of proposals will be sent by email by the end of August 2017.

Please email your abstract and bio to both editors:

Dr Martha Shearer at marthashearer@gmail.com

Dr Julie Lobalzo Wright at j.wright.4@warwick.ac.uk

 

CFP: The Alt-Right in Popular Culture

May 6, 2017 by

Deadline for submissions: September 1, 2017

Over the past few years, a loosely defined group that has since come to be referred to as “the alt-right” began to receive increased attention and scrutiny in the American media. The group presents itself to the public as an alternative to the mainstream conservatism of the contemporary Republican Party, and is an amorphous mass of people, largely associated with Internet social media platforms. The alt-right appears to be motivated by white nationalism, antigovernment conspiracy theory, xenophobia, and an opposition to identity politics. Its existence is linked with news sites like Breitbart News, the white supremacist site American Renaissance, and the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer (among others), and with movements like the Men’s Rights, neo-Nazi and anti-immigrant movements. In 2017, Donald Trump’s presidential election has arguably legitimized and further publicized alt-right figures and ideologies, most clearly demonstrated by the rise of Trump Aid Steve Bannon, former Breitbart chairman, to the White House. In this cultural moment, it is essential that scholars and thinkers of the contemporary begin critical explorations of the formation, influences and attitudes that comprise a cultural understanding of the alt-right and niche internet groups as a political and social phenomenon. Intrinsic to this study is the interrogation of various modes of toxic masculinities associated with these internet platforms and their popularization of both fascist and nihilistic political and social paradigms. This volume calls for full-length essays that will contribute to this interrogation. I plan to approach university presses with this volume, which will pioneer the serious study of the alt-right within the academy. This collection is the first of its kind.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Alt-right leaders and their treatment in the media
  • The relationship between alt-right and nihilism
  • The alt-right and fascist iconography and influences
  • The alt-right and its growing antithesis, an emerging “alt-left”
  • The emergence of the alt-right and its forebears/predecessors
  • Media focus on figures like Milo Yiannapoulos/Richard Spencer
  • Literary/critical/philosophical influences on the alt-right
  • The alt-right and popular genres, specifically science fiction and fantasy
  • The alt-right and configurations of toxic masculinities
  • Artist pushback against alt-right groups/anti-fascist art installations and output
  • Street art (both alt-right & anti-fascist)
  • Commercial/mainstream response to alt-right ideologies

This collection will be interdisciplinary, and is open to scholars in Media Studies, Film Studies, Literary and Historical Studies, Women’s Studies, Queer Studies, Gender Studies, Philosophy, Cultural Studies, and beyond.

Please send an abstract (450-700 words) and a short bio to Katlyn Williams (katlyn-e-williams@uiowa.edu) by September 1st, 2017.

This volume will call for completed essays of 5,000-7,000 words by March 1st, 2018.

CFP: Transmediating the Whedonverse: An Edited Collection

May 6, 2017 by

Deadline for submissions: June 1, 2017

In the last two decades, scholarly attention to transmedia storytelling (TS) has increased dramatically. Approaches to the topic vary widely, ranging from a focus on the effects of TS on narratives and texts (Harvey, Mittell); explorations of paratexts, metatexts, intertexts, and pretexts (Gray, Clarke); and the increase in fan participation and agency with regard to narrative agency since the transmedia turn (Jenkins, Geraghty, Hills). More recently, scholars such as Raúl Rodríguez-Ferrándiz have returned to what might be considered the beginning, looking to Gerard Genette’s discussion of paratexts and building on Genette’s print-bound ideas with transmediated frames. This edited collection aims to open a conversation about the ways in which the extended Whedonverse crosses narrative platforms, combines authorial voices, and blurs the boundaries between and among issues of production, dissemination, and consumption.

Whedon stands as a transmedia icon. His role in advancing transmedial narratives includes media code switching from movies to TV to comic books to web texts as well as his tendency to encourage fan inclusion and agency. While not exhaustive, Whedon scholars have addressed transmedia activism (Cochran), authorial and audience agency (Hadas, Kociemba), semiotics (Beddows), hyperdiegsis (Buckman), and narrative destabilization (McCormick). Whedon scholars have placed their TS scholarship in various, broader edited collections and journals; however, Transmediating the Whedonverse seeks to advance these conversations while showcasing the extent of Whedon’s influence on TS.

The anticipated collection seeks to showcase a range of theoretical lenses and approaches to transmedial world-building, branding and franchising, and research including but not limited to feminism(s), posthumanism, new materialism(s), and speculative realism(s), in order to frame the significant conflicts and contributions of the meta- and paratextual Whedonverse. Successful proposals will explore the constructions of, complications with, and relations between and among narratives across media, possibly including effects on audience-consumers, creator-producer(s), and user-disseminators.

Key ideas this text aims to address include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Narrative conflicts and complications created by or resolved through transmediation
  • Production, dissemination, and consumption of transmediated materials
  • The relationship between creator-text-audience/producer-product-consumer
  • The impact of transmediation on Whedon scholarship and classroom pedagogies
  • Complications with real-world representations of creator, audience, and texts (i.e. social media, Save the Day, public appearances, speeches, etc.)
  • Fan-created content as narrative instantiation (i.e. mash-ups, wikis, fan fiction, etc.)

Editors Juliette Kitchens and Julie Hawk invite query letters and abstracts for proposed chapter-length original work (300-500 words); please send to transmedia.verse@gmail.com (subject line: Whedon Transmedia Collection) no later than June 1, 2017. Selected contributors will be notified by July 1, 2017. 

CFP: Generation BioWare. Story-Driven Games in Contemporary Humanities

May 6, 2017 by

American ​Literature and Culture Secton (Department of English Studies, University of Wrocław) and New Media and Popular Literature Secton (Department of Polish Studies, University of Wrocław) invite paper abstracts for “Generaton BioWare,” a conference focused exclusively on the Canadian developer and their games.

Founded in 1995, BioWare have been responsible for some of the most acclaimed ttles in the history of the industry. The studio’s games are famous for mult-layered narratves and complex characters, both of which originated in ttles set in the well-established worlds: Faerûn from the Dungeon and Dragons pen-and-paper RPG system and the Star Wars universe. Since their release, Baldur’s Gate (1998), Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000), and Knights of the Old Republic (2003) have enjoyed critcal and commercial success and the two franchises have enabled the studio to create its own proprietary worlds in Jade Empire (2005), Mass Effect (2007), and Dragon
Age: Origins (2009) as well as to further refne story-telling structures, character writng, karmic
mechanics, and worldbuilding techniques. 

The positve recepton of BioWare ttles has been accompanied by the development of a dedicated fanbase, whose general video game literacy was centrally shaped by BioWare’s design decisions and techniques. As a result, BioWare games have come to be regarded as templates for many western RPGs: the recent Kickstarter success of Divinity Original Sin (2014), Pillars of Eternity (2015), and Tyranny (2016) can be partly ascribed to the impact the Baldur’s Gate series had on these ttles.

Consequently, BioWare’s impact on the medium as well as the industry can be perceived as nothing short of critcal. To address this influence, we would like to create a platorm for academic exchange and invite submissions from scholars and researchers across disciplines, including game studies, literary studies, linguistcs, fan studies, media studies, sociology, and cultural studies.

Suggested areas of research include but are not limited to:
• narratology and character research,
• literary and ludological dimensions,
• sociology of BioWare games and their fan communites,
• BioWare games and classic RPGs,
• worldbuilding techniques,
• narratve techniques,
• gameplay design,
• poetcs of BioWare games,
• ethical and moral issues in BioWare games,
• localizaton and adaptaton,
• paratextuality and transmediality,
• video game market and the evoluton of BioWare as a studio,
• Interplay, BlackIsle, Troika, and Obsidian as compettors and creators of alternatve worldbuilding
and narratve techniques,
• narratve and character design methods,
• visuality and sound in BioWare games.

Registration form: https://generationbioware.wordpress.com/conference-registration-form/

Abstract submission deadline: 30.09.2017

Notfcaton of acceptance: 10.10.2017

Conference registraton due: 15.11.2017

Conference fee: 100 EUR (fee transfer details will be provided with the notfcaton of acceptance)

Main event: 5-7.12.2017

CFP: Netflix at the Nexus: Content, Practice, and Production in the Age of Streaming Television

May 6, 2017 by

Netflix’s meteoric rise as an online content provider has been well documented and much debated in the popular press and in academic circles. It has been praised as the future of television (Auletta, 2014) and as “the most feared force in Hollywood” (Villarreal & James, 2016), while also decried as the end of “TV’s Golden Age” and blamed for ushering in an era where “TV shows may be briefer, lower-budget and filled with the kind of product-placement ads that audiences hate and advertisers pay for” (Thielman, 2016). Interestingly though, amongst the academic inquiry thus far, much of this research has dealt primarily with the algorithmic culture and nature of Netflix (Hallinan & Striphas, 2016; Gomez-Uribe & Hunt, 2016; Amatriain, 2013), binge watching (Jenner, 2015, 2016; Pittman, & Sheehan, 2015), engagement, (Groshek, & Krongard, 2016; Matrix, 2014); and the future of television, (Auletta, 2014).

The editors seek contributions to this collection that will broaden this discussion greatly, focusing on Netflix in three specific ways:

•      platform – How does the nature of Netflix streaming change our relationship to media? How does Netflix’s interface design impact media consumption? How does Netflix change our media consumption in mobile contexts? What are the cultural implications of Netflix’s business model?

•      content – What kind of content does Netflix privilege? How does the streaming model change serialized programming? What are these effects on narrative? Does Netflix’s streaming model prelude a more diverse offering for consumers interested in “quality TV?” Do representations in Netflix offerings differ from traditional broadcast programming? Is there a “Netflix genre,” shows produced by Netflix can be recognized as such?

•      viewer practices – What kind of viewing practices does Netflix encourage? What is the nature of viewer discourse surrounding binging and other streaming viewing practices? How do fans discuss and build community around Netflix programs? How do fans incorporate social media into their viewing habits? Do users utilize social media as a second screen when discussing their favorite programs?

Submission Process:

Interested authors should submit an initial proposal of 500 words (exc. references) by July 15, 2017. This should be sent as a Word or PDF document to editors Theo Plothe (tplothe@walsh.edu) and Amber M. Buck (ambuck@ua.edu) for consideration.

CFP: Stardom, Celebrity and Fandom Conference

May 6, 2017 by

We invite presentation proposals for the Stardom, Celebrity and Fandom Conference, to be held at Texas Christian University (Fort Worth, Texas) November 10-11, 2017.

The conference organizers are seeking contributions that explore various realities associated with living in the limelight and/or admiring those who do, insightful analyses of individual stars and/or celebrities, and in-depth analyses of intriguing media offerings that examine and represent stardom, celebrity and/or fandom, during any historical era.

Given adequate participant interest and high-quality submissions, we are hoping to publish selected papers (with author’s permission) in a special collection of essays pertaining to the conference theme.

Participants are encouraged to interpret the conference theme quite broadly and innovatively. Possible topics may include (but are certainly not limited to) achieving fame, active vs. passive fan phenomena, addiction and destructive behaviors as coping mechanisms, authenticity, celebrity culture, challenges associated with continual media attention, cult of personality, dynamics of celebrity and stardom, falling from grace, gossip and innuendo, Hollywood’s Golden Age, the illusion of intimacy, instant celebrity status, fandom realities and pleasures, media (over)saturation, micro-celebrity, noteworthy stars and celebrities, scandals, social mobility and the American Dream, stalkers and other obsessive admirers, the studio system, television stardom, and trends in social media.

We encourage submissions from scholars, educators, and students at all levels, and from disciplines including art, communication, cultural studies, film and video studies, history, journalism, LGBTQ studies, media studies, music, political science, popular culture, sociology, television studies, and women’s studies, among others. Individual paper presentations will be limited to 25 minutes in length.

Please e-mail presentation proposals containing (a) a one-page abstract with complete contact information (name, institutional affiliation, e-mail address, and contact telephone number) and (b) a one-paragraph author biography to Professor Kylo-Patrick Hart (k.hart@tcu.edu) on or before Tuesday, August 1, 2017.

Decisions regarding the status of submitted proposals will be made and communicated as quickly as possible following the submission deadline, and certainly no later than August 15, 2017. For specific inquiries prior to submitting a proposal, please contact Dr. Hart at your convenience by e-mail (k.hart@tcu.edu).

CFP: Gender and Horror 

May 6, 2017 by

This edited collection aims to re-examine horror in an era of remakes, reboots and re-imaginings. There have been many developments in the horror genre and whilst much of it has been reliant on previous material, there are also many shifts and changes such as:

  • cross-over of genres (for example, teen romance paired with vampires and werewolves, or horror in space);
  • new formats such as Netflix, and cinema no longer being the only place we see horror;
  • a resurgence of stories of hauntings and ghosts;
  • and the popularity of ‘found footage’.

We wish to focus specifically on horror from 1995 to the present, as after a brief hiatus in the mainstream, the 1990s saw the return of horror to our screens – including our TV screens with, for example, Buffy The Vampire Slayer – and with horror and its characters more knowing than before.

We are happy for you to compare older material with newer versions, such as the recent Netflix version of The Exorcist (2016) with the original film The Exorcist (1973). The main requirement is that you interrogate whether the portrayal of gender has changed in horror – it may look like something different (more positive?) is happening, but is it?

We hope to encourage diverse perspectives and we welcome early career researchers and new voices to offer a different light on classic material, in sole- or multi-authored chapters.

We’d also like to gently remind potential authors that ‘gender’ doesn’t only apply to women, it applies to men and masculinities, and it encompasses non-binary identities and experiences, as well as issues about ‘race’, ethnicities and class.

The schedule is as follows:

  • You send your chapter title, 200 word abstract and brief bio by the end of May 2017.
  • The finalised proposal will be sent to the publisher Emerald in early summer.
  • Your final first draft chapter (approx 7000 words) should be sent to us by January 31st2018 (reminder/s will be sent).
  • We will return any comments/revisions by the end of March 2018, and ask that you send us the final revised chapter by the end of June 2018.
  • The completed manuscript will be submitted in July 2018 for publication in early 2019.

Please send your chapter titles, 200 word abstracts and a brief bio to the book editors by the end of May.

If you have any queries, or would like to contribute but need to tweak the schedule, please email us.

Editors:

Dr Samantha Hollands.holland@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

Dr Steven Gerrard  S.D.Gerrard@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

Prof Robert Shail   R.Shail@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

If you are not familiar with the publisher, Emerald are an independent publisher, established by academics in 1967 and committed to retaining their independence.

And for your future reference: All hardback monograph publishing will be available in paperback after 24 months, and all books are available as ebooks. Emerald commission and cover the cost of indexing if authors don’t want to do it themselves; use professional designers for each individual book jacket; and aim to exceed the royalties of other publishers. They have international offices, but pride themselves on not being a ‘corporate machine’.

CFP: At home with horror? Terror on the small screen, University of Kent, UK, 27-28 Oct 2017

April 19, 2017 by

The Melodrama Research Group presents:

At home with horror? Terror on the small screen

27th-28th October 2017

University of Kent

Keynote speaker: Dr Helen Wheatley (University of Warwick)

CALL FOR PAPERS

The recent horror output on TV and the small screen challenges what Matt Hills found to be the overriding assumption ‘that film is the [horror] genre’s ‘natural’ home’ (Hills 2005, 111). Programmes such as American Horror StoryPenny Dreadful and The Walking Dead are aligned to ‘‘quality TV’, yet use horror imagery and ideas to present a form and style of television that is ‘not ordinary’’ (Johnston 2016, 11). Developments in industrial practices and production technology have resulted in a more spectacular horror in the medium, which Hills argues is the ‘making cinematic’ of television drama (Hills 2010, 23). The generic hybridity of television programmes such as Whitechapel, and Ripper Street allow conventions of the horror genre to be employed within the narrative and aesthetics, creating new possibilities for the animation of horror on the small screen. Series such as Bates Motel and Scream adapt cinematic horror to a serial format, positioning the small screen (including terrestrial, satellite and online formats) as the new home for horror.

The history of television and horror has often displayed a problematic relationship. As a medium that operates within a domestic setting, television has previously been viewed as incompatible with ‘authentic’ horror. Television has been approached as incapable of mobilizing the intense audience reactions associated with the genre and seen as a medium ‘restricted’ in its ability to scare and horrify audiences partly due to censorship constraints (Waller 1987) and scheduling arrangements. Such industrial practices have been seen as tempering the genre’s aesthetic agency resulting in inferior cinematic imitations or, ‘degraded made-for-TV sequels’ (Waller 1987, 146). For Waller, the technology of television compounded the medium’s ability to animate horror and directed its initial move towards a more ‘restrained’ form of the genre such as adapting literary ghost stories and screening RKO productions of the 1940s (Ibid 1987). Inferior quality of colour and resolution provided the opportunity to suggest rather than show. Horror, then, has presented a challenge for television: how can the genre be positioned in such a family orientated and domesticated medium? As Hills explains, ‘In such a context, horror is conceptualised as a genre that calls for non- prime-time scheduling… and [thus] automatically excluded from attracting a mass audience despite the popularity of the genre in other media’ (Hills 2005, 118).

Helen Wheatley’s monograph, Gothic Television (2006), challenges the approach of television as a limiting medium for horror, and instead focuses on how the domestic setting of the television set is key to its effectiveness.  Focusing on the female Gothic as a domestic genre, Wheatley draws a lineage from early literary works, to the 1940s cycle of Gothic women films and Gothic television of the 1950s onwards. Wheatley argues for the significance of the domestic setting in experiencing stories of domestic anxiety for, ‘the aims of the Gothic drama made for television [are] to suggest a congruence between the domestic spaces on the screen and the domestic reception context’ (Wheatley 2006, 191).

Developments in small screen horror are not restricted to contemporary output. In his work on the cultural history of horror, Mark Jancovich argues that it was on television in the 1990s where key developments in the genre were taking place (Jancovich 2002). Taking Jancovich’s work as a cue, Hills develops his own approach to the significance of horror television of the 1990s. Hills citesBuffy the Vampire Slayer and The X Files as examples of programmes striving to mobilise the genre’s more graphic elements while existing as a ‘high-end’ cultural product: ‘authored’ TV that targeted a niche fan audience (Hills 2005, 126).

Taking these recent developments into account, the aim of this conference is to engage with such advances. Can we say that it is on the small screen where critical and creative innovations in horror are now being made? How has the expansion of satellite television and online sites impacted the genre? How has the small screen format developed the possibilities of horror? Is the recent alignment with ‘quality TV’ evidence of horror’s new mainstream status? This conference will also reflect on seminal works on television horror and revisit the history of the genre. In addressing these questions the conference will underline the importance of the small screen for horror, within the study of the genre and of the medium, and ask: is the small screen now the home of horror?

Topics can include but are not limited to:

  • The seasons and horror on the small screen
  • Gothic television
  • Gender and horror
  • Historical figures and events in small screen horror
  • Small screen horror as an ‘event’
  • Adaptation from cinema to small screen ‘re-imaginings’
  • Production contexts
  • Censorship and the small screen
  • Serialisation and horror production
  • National television production of horror
  • The impact of Netflix and Amazon Prime
  • TV history and horror
  • Literary adaptations
  • Children’s TV and horror
  • Genre hybridity
  • Fandom
  • Teen horror
  • Stardom and horror

Please submit proposals of 400 words, along with a short biographical note (250 words) to horrorishome@gmail.com by Friday 30th June. We welcome 20 minute conference papers as well as submissions for creative work or practice-as-research including, but not limited to, short films and video essays.

Conference organisers: Katerina Flint-Nicol and Ann-Marie Fleming

https://tvhomeofhorror.wordpress.com/

https://twitter.com/Homewithhorror

 

CFP: Fan Studies 2017 Midwest Popular Culture Association Conference, Oct 18-22, 2017 St. Louis, MO, USA

April 19, 2017 by

FAN STUDIES

2017 Midwest Popular Culture Association Conference

Wednesday-Sunday, October 18-22, 2017

St. Louis, MO, USA

Hayatt Regenct St. Louis at the Arch

Deadline: April 30, 2017

Submissions.mpcaaca.org

Topics can include, but are not limited to fan fiction, multi-media fanproduction, fan communities, fandom of individual media texts, sports fandom, or the future of fandom.  Case studies are also welcome.

Special call for Fan Fiction writers willing to share their work or portions of their work.

Please upload 250 word abstract proposals on any aspect of Fan Studies to theFan Studies area, http://submissions.mpcaaca.org/.

More information about the conference can be found athttp://www.mpcaaca.org/

Please note the availability of graduate student travel grants:http://mpcaaca.org/conference/travel-grants/.

 

Please include name, affiliation, and e-mail address with the 250 word abstract. Also, please indicate in your submission whether your presentation will require an LCD Projector and/or Audio hookup.

Any questions? Please email Katie Wilson at KateMarieWilson@gmail.com

Audiences 2017: A Bournemouth University/ CSJCC Workshop, 3 May 2017, Bournemouth, UK

April 6, 2017 by

Audiences 2017: A Bournemouth University/ CSJCC Workshop

Wednesday May 3rd 2017, 09:00 – 17:30.

This event is free, but spaces are limited. Interested parties please email Dr. William Proctor to book places (bproctor@bournemouth.ac.uk).

Bournemouth University’s Centre for the Study of Journalism, Culture and Community (CSJCC) cordially invites you to Audiences 2017, a workshop including activities and presentations. I am pleased to announce the following scholars will be speaking at the event and sharing their experience of audience research, addressing key issues such as methodology, ethics and project design.

Professor Martin Barker (Aberystwyth University):

“Not just any old data”: the role of theories and methods in audience research.

 Dr. Ranjana Das (University of Leicester):

The Audiences of “Offensive” TV: Offence, Affect and Publicness in Front of Provocative Screens (drawn from research conducted by Ranjana Das and Ann Graefer, and forthcoming book, Provocative Screens, co-authored with Anne Graefer).

Dr. Jim Pope (Bournemouth University)

Reader response theory and practice, applied to readers of hypertext fiction

Dr. Richard McCulloch (Huddersfield University) & Dr. William Proctor (Bournemouth University):

The Force Re-Awakens: The World Star Wars Project

The morning will be dedicated to presentations, each focusing on individual research projects. Following lunch, we will then proceed to participatory workshop exercises designed to address the ‘whys’ and the ‘hows’ of audience research. The following overview provides a précis of workshop activity (with thanks to Professor Barker and Dr. Das).

Audience research is at least to a small extent the awkward cousin of much else in media and cultural studies: arriving on bad days, asking difficult questions, making life complicated for the ‘family’. Not accepting favoured ‘theories’. Demanding good empirical evidence for ‘obvious’ propositions. But audience research is also now well-established and practised with dedication by an increasing number of people in our field.  It has its dedicated Journals, its academic sections of major organisations, even occasional specialist conferences.  Understanding what we do, why, and how – and of course with what challenges and difficulties – is surely important.

The aim of this Workshop is to give you an opportunity to think through how and why you might design a piece of audience research on something pretty current and surely very important. In the first part of the day, you will have heard four presentations from people who, in different ways, have practised various kinds of audience research.  In the afternoon, we will hope to make this as concrete and exciting as we feel it to be, by taking you through some of the processes that we go through, as we plan and design our research.  The topic we’ve chosen to build this around is the nature and rise of the ‘new populism’.

A lot of important work (both journalistic and academic) has been done on this topic, looking at the rise of specific websites, Fox News and radio jock shows, and social media platforms that have played a part in this. There has also been valuable work on the sociology of the phenomenon: the rust belt in America, the former industrial towns in the UK, and so on.  And – more uncertainly – there has been work on the rise of new forms of racism, which is also part of the same phenomenon.  But a huge amount remains unknown.  So, what might be contributed if we were in a position to explore the media choices and involvements of those attracted to the ‘new populism’?

  • What specifically could ‘audience research’ contribute that other kinds of research could not – however hard we might think it will be to do it in practice?
  • What questions would we be aiming to ask – and how might we in theory go about answering them?
  • What would be the biggest barriers to doing the research – and how might those barriers be circumvented?
  • What might be our own assumptions as we approach the task, and what might we do to stop these blocking us and making us prejudge?