The concept of the audience has been a topic of continued debate and discussion in the study of media and communication. In the twentieth century, fears around the propagandistic impact of media technologies on mass audiences led to criticism and censorship of media texts from a number of different theoretical and ideological perspectives. However, alternative approaches to audiences have emphasised the active nature of ‘audiencing’, and researchers highlight audience reception of media messages in their cultural and social contexts. In the twenty-first century, the whole conception of the audience has been further challenged by digital communications technologies which allow users to be producers as much as consumers, and the impact of social networks and the internet more broadly have suggested the emergence of a more participatory culture. This can be linked to a move away from studying the ‘text-audience’ relationship and towards a focus on the place of media reception in the routines of everyday life.
This studio will encourage students to adopt an ethnographic approach to the study of audiences, by selecting a particular audience group and applying qualitative research methods to investigate the meanings and perspectives audiences generate and apply to their media use.
Read this story by The Guardian. What does it suggest about TV? About horror movies? Who are the ‘experts’ here? How is this linked to arguments around the value of popular culture? We will discuss these issues in the studio.
Outline the first seven weeks of study
In the first few weeks of the studio will survey the history and theory of audience studies, in order to set the context for the ethnographic study of contemporary media audiences:
- Magic bullet theories
- Agenda setting
- Uses and gratifications
- Reception theory
- Active audiences
- Audiences and publics
- Audiences and social constructionism
- Fandom and subcultures
- Networked audiences and social media
The latter part of the ‘taught’ studio will consider the different research methods (surveys, interviews, focus groups, participant observation) that have been used to investigate audiences.
- Alasuutari P (ed.) (1999) Rethinking the Media Audience: The New Agenda. London ; Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications UK
- Barker M, Arthurs J and Harindranath R (2001) The Crash Controversy: Censorship Campaigns and Film Reception. Wallflower Press
- Barker M and Petley J (2001) Ill effects: the media/violence debate. 2nd ed. Communication and society. London: Routledge
- Gauntlett D (2011) Making is connecting: the social meaning of creativity, from DIY and knitting to YouTube and Web 2.0. Cambridge: Polity Press
- Hills M (2002) Fan cultures. Sussex studies in culture and communication, London: Routledge
- Jenkins H (2006) Fans, bloggers, and gamers: exploring participatory culture. New York ; London: New York University Press
- Sullivan JL (2012) Media Audiences: Effects, Users, Institutions, and Power. SAGE Publications, Inc.
Studio 1: Another India
Studio 1: Another India will examine, reflect upon and critique the historic use of "exotic" motifs in design.
Studio 2: Contemporary Ecology
In Studio 2 we will explore environmental topics through the lens of art, architecture, spatial practice, media and design disciplines.
Studio 3: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture and the Music Industry
Studio 3: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture and the Music Industry is an exploration of race, gender, class and more in music.
Studio 4: Not allowed
Studio 4: What Not to Wear? will investigate the roles that dress and fashion play in our workplaces.
Studio 5: Imperfect Theories
Studio 5: Imperfect Theories allows you to critically examine any work that can be seen as theory or presents an interesting relationship with theory.
Studio 6: Curating as a Spatial Practice: From the Wunderkammer to Installation art
Nico de Oliveira
Studio 6: This dissertation studio is designed to help students who are interested in curating as a broad subject, as well as those who wish to contextualise their own practice within the scope of displaying art.
Studio 7: Souvenir
Dr Lesley Stevenson
Studio 7: This studio is concerned with those objects that are lent a particular enchantment because of their relationship with the past.
Studio 8: Post – card
Studio 8 will look at one element of that system – the picture postcard – from a number of different perspectives.
Studio 9: ‘The Form of the Text’
Studio 9: Together we will explore the space of criticism; acknowledging our point of encounter with objects, places, sites and processes and the relationship between text, writer and reader.
Studio 10: Constellating
As creative practitioners we digest and produce images every day – as citizens of the digital age we consume between hundreds and thousands of images each day. This dissertation studio will slim down your daily diet to one image.
Studio 11: Science Fiction Futurity
Speculative descriptions of the future reveal a magnified — or distorted — reflection of the fears and desires of the present.
Studio 12: Alternative Fashioned Modernities
Much is happening in the world today that foregrounds questions pertinent to our identities in a globalised world.
Studio 13: Desire, Trauma, History
How does the relationship of memory to fantasy affect history? What are the links between desire, sexuality and trauma? How are these relationships played out or negotiated in visual and written practice? These questions will form the beginning of our enquiries into artworks, films and literature.
Studio 14: Design and Nature: Forms of an Entanglement
We will look at how the idea of nature has been constructed over time and place, and study its impact on design practice in an age marked by the sustainability imperative.
Studio 15: Music, Technology and Ideas
Studio 15: Music, Technology and Ideas encourages you to explore how and why we make music, including its origin, relationship to technology and more.
Studio 16: Narrative and Storytelling
Studio 16: Narrative and Storytelling will see you produce storygraphs, storyboards and various forms of narrative analysis in the seminars.
Studio 17: Knowing Audiences
Studio 17: Knowing Audiences will encourage you to study an audience group using qualitative research methods in your investigations.
Studio 18: Time and the Image
This workshop will address some perennial problems of writing in the field of visual culture.
Studio 19: Material in Motion
Studio 19: This studio will explore a reading of objects focusing on the interplay between materials, the objects they form and their context.
Studio 20: The Liminal
This Dissertation Studio examines instances of the liminal as they occur in critical theory and culture, and is open to any topic and students from all disciplines.
Studio 21: Reading the library (and nothing but the library)
This year, Studio 21 will stage an unusual experiment. It will move, unpack, catalogue, and perform readings from one private library; and make this library, without exception, the single resource for all the research and writing in the studio.
Studio 22: Meaningful work
Studio 22: Meaningful work explores the value of making and the idea of craft as meaningful work.