Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2 (Taught over 2 semesters)

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 3500 WORD ESSAY  A structured account of students observation of two `events within different media/cultural contexts (this will have a group component and an individual evaluation).  50%
Semester Assessment 3500 WORD ESSAY  A structured examination of the experience of being an audience member.  50%

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. carry out close observation of a variety of lived cultural and media events
2. draw upon the specific histories of a variety of cultural and media forms, to explore how modes of audience participation may be formed
3. make connections with personal experience, and memory-work, and relate these to broader conceptual accounts
4. provide critical accounts of the differences occasioned by different media and cultural traditions, and through this, arrive at an understanding of concepts such as `live-ness', `performativity' and `interactivity'.


Indicative sessions might include:

1. Understanding audiences in contexts
2. Participant observation
3. Practice week: recording observations
4. Reviewing observation practices
5. Theorising contexts: theatre, cinema, museums etc
6. Auslander and the concept of `liveness'
7. Bourdieu, tastes and `habitus'
8. Practice week: examining tastes
9. Reviewing practices
10. Identity and performativity
11. Goffman/Butler on performance
12. Gender issues in audience research
13. Self, memory, and memory-work
14. Annette Kuhn on memory-work
15. Practice week: using memory
16. Reviewing practices
17. Ethical problems in audience research
18. Foucault and `confessional society'
19. `Pleasure' and its problems
20. `Passivity', `activity', `interactivity'


To explore the specific differences occasioned by the historical, contextual and performative differences between different cultural and media forms.
To examine differences in traditions of researching audiences within different media and cultural spheres, and consider how they might assist each other.
To develop students' powers of structured observation within public contexts, in ways that can assist the understanding of audience processes and the design of appropriate research.

Brief description

This module will seek to explore, by a mixture of means, the differences in the kinds of encounter and the modes of involvement offered to people attending different kinds of event, presentation, and venue. Key concepts in here which will need critical examination are those of `live' vs `mediated' events, ideas of `performance' and associated debates about subjectivity, self-presentation and authenticity, debates about `active' vs `passive' audiences, and recently emergent debates about 'interactivity', especially in context of digital encounters. The wider notion of distinct `literacies' for different media of communication and sites of participation will also be explored.

The teaching programme will combine encounters with some key concepts and thinkers which have shaped ways in which researchers have addressed the ways in which audiences differentially engage with different modes of practice and communication, with exercises in which students will design, carry out and report back on forms of participant observation in different kinds of event/venue, in order to consider the nature of different kinds of participation.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Brewer, J.D. (2000) Ethnography Buckingham: Open UNiversity Press Primo search Emerson, R, Fretz, R and Shaw, L. (1995) Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes Chicago University Press Primo search NIghtingale, V. (1996) Studying Audiences: The Shock of the Real London: Routledge Primo search Spradley, J. (1980) Participant Observation Belmont, CA: Thompson Learning Primo search Spradley, J. (1979) The Ethnographic Interview Belmont, CA: Thompson Learning Primo search van Maanen, J. (1988) Tales fro the Field: On Writing Ethnography Chicago University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 7