Making Sense of Cinema Anthology

Edited by Christopher Olson (Seems Obvious to Me) and myself, Bloomsbury Academic will release Making Sense of Cinema: Empirical Studies into Film Spectators and Spectatorship on February 25, 2016. Making Sense of Cinema is an anthology collecting empirical studies that display different methods for studying real film spectators engaging with real films. Film studies has had a tradition of theorizing the nature of film and … Continue reading Making Sense of Cinema Anthology


Fandom as Repeatedly Returning to What Matters Most

Being a fan can mean many different things to many different people.

It may mean a person likes to collect memorabilia for a favorite sports team. It may mean a group like to wear costumes and reenact an important event. It may mean individuals compete with one another to test their knowledge in trivia contests.

It may mean talking, acting, making, writing, reading, speaking, wearing, collecting, seeing, hearing, knowing, believing, arguing, communing, buying, selling, traveling, identifying, and so on and so forth.

At the base of all of these activities that people do to demonstrate to others that they are a fan — at the foundation of even this idea of “the fan” as a derivative of “the fanatic” — grounding this idea of being a fan as being about love and passion and sometimes obsession — is a simple act that people do that let’s them know to themselves that they are a fan of something.

This basic foundation of fandom is the idea that a person willingly repeatedly returns to the object of their affection.

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Fractured Fandom

In Defense of Fans via Fractured Fandom

In defense of fans and fandom, I want to make clear that I would not argue that fractured fandom happens all the time or involves a majority of the population of any particular fandom. What I would say about fractured fandom is that it reflects a larger social and cultural issue, in the United States at least. An issue that involves a problem of an … Continue reading In Defense of Fans via Fractured Fandom

Encoding Decoding Recoding

An Encoding-Decoding-Recoding Model of Media Studies

This blog posts continues the dissection of my dissertation that I began by introducing the topic of gendered media engagings earlier this year. This post focuses on a model I used in my dissertation to understand the array of media studies conducted to investigate the ways in which gender is involved in how people engage with media products. As with so many interested in understanding audience reception of the media, I have been highly influenced by the late, great Stuart Hall’s work on what has become known as the “encoding/decoding model” in media studies. Now, I, with much humility, wonder if this classic model could be improved with one more step: recoding.

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The Study of Gendered Media Engagings (Part 3): Why It Matters

This is the third part of my dissertation’s first chapter.  The first part was on defining gendered media engagings.  The second part was on defining gender. Why studying gendered media engagings matters Thanks to the work of scholars such as Dallas Smythe, we are aware of the central role of advertisement in most media industries (Smythe, 1995).  Television, radio, newspapers, internet, magazines, comic books, and even … Continue reading The Study of Gendered Media Engagings (Part 3): Why It Matters

On Transgressing Audiencehood: Web 2.0, Interactivity, and Becoming What We’ve Always Been

I think I have now determined what my main research trajectory will be, and I wanted to take the opportunity to organize these thoughts to provide the beginning of a structure for how to organize my research, past, present and future. For awhile now, I’ve been convinced that how the new media has affected our understanding of “audience” is by highlighting certain behaviors that have … Continue reading On Transgressing Audiencehood: Web 2.0, Interactivity, and Becoming What We’ve Always Been

The Whats versus Hows of Film Spectatorship

[What follows is a 2007 paper I wrote for a graduate level course on film studies.  It was this paper that started me thinking about what I’ve come to term minutia reception studies.  I’ve edited the paper for length, and I’ve included a picture of the reception worksheets my brother filled out as part of this “study”.  The full paper can be found here.  I hope to be able to start doing more research on this topic soon, starting with a paper using part of the Virtual Worlds Entertainment project to do so.]

Since the arrival and construction of the “new” media, it seems that the variety of disciplines that have at some point in their history theorized and researched the relationship between human beings and works of fiction and nonfiction are converging.  However,  from social sciences and the humanities there still fall two different dimensions that dissect the fields on how they approach the study of the person-text relationship.  The first dimension carries the active-passive debate.  While few see the person as always active or always passive, the variation along this dimension still serves to separate research.  The second dimension carries the implied-actual debate; simply stated, this dimension concerns the extent to which research focuses on the reader as implied by the text versus the actual reader who exists external to the text.

The purpose of this essay is not to further differentiate how these dimensions are at work in the variety of disciplines studying the reader-text engagement.  This essay takes such distinctions as the current state of affairs and operates instead from a particular position on both dimensions to further an argument about the reader-text relationship when the focus of the research is the spectator-film engagement.  I shall stake my claim on being further into the always active and actual reader approaches, which places me in a camp surrounded by “uses and gratifications” media scholars, information scientists, cognitive scientists, new media scholars, and cultural studies scholars.  It is from this position that I shall argue for the need to understand the actual reader engaging with the film text in order to expand the ways in which this engagement can impact overall reception of the text.  My thesis will be supported by a preliminary empirical study that is also intended to promote a possible means for studying moment-by-moment spectator-film engagement in order to see the process of reading and its relation to overall reception.

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