Module Identifier TFM0730  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Ernest Mathijs  
Semester Semester 2 (Taught over 2 semesters)  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   40 Hours  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment 2500 word essay  33%
Semester Assessment 2500 word essay  33%
Semester Assessment 2500 word critical review  33%

Learning outcomes

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

1.   Display a secure knowledge of a number of main traditions for conceiving and understanding audiences and reception of cultural and media texts and events.
2.   Compare and evaluate empirical studies conducted within each of the major framing traditions.
3.   Demonstrate a critical awareness of a range of theoretical and conceptual issues and debates concerning the meanings of `audience?.
4. Evaluate different disciplinary traditions for thinking about audiences and reception, and their capacity to contribute to our knowledge and understanding.


To provide a secure grounding to students in the main traditions for conceiving and understanding the relations of audiences to cultural and media texts and events.
To ensure that students are securely grounded in some main histories and debates in the study of audiences and reception, and enable them to arrive at an informed evaluation of the issues connected with these different traditions
To introduce and explore the different imperatives associated with academic, policy-led, and commercially-driven traditions of research.


Indicative sessions might include the following:

1. What is an `audience??
2. `Effects? traditions
3. Exemplary study from the `effects? tradition
4. Sociological traditions
5. Exemplary study from the `uses and gratifications? tradition
6. Pierre Bourdieu, `cultural taste? systems and the audience
7. Histories of the `audience?
8. Cultural studies traditions
9. Exemplary study: Janice Radway on women romance readers
10. Literary traditions of audience investigation
11. Exemplary study: Stanley Fish and `interpretive communities?
12. Reception studies
13. Exemplary study: Janet Staiger
14. Commercial researches
15. Exemplary study: finding target audiences for a comic book
16. Policy-directed research
17. Exemplary study: Broadcasting Standards Council research
18. Fan researches
19. Exemplary study: Henry Jenkins
20. Return to the question: what is an `audience??

Brief description

Brief Description The module will seek to cover the main traditions and disciplinary sources for conceptualising and researching audience relations to a number of cultural and media practices, most notably: the mass communications tradition; the uses and gratifications tradition; the cultural studies tradition; the American reception studies tradition; literary theories and approaches to the `implied audience?; sociological and historical approaches relating to the formation of taste cultures; and fan studies. Through these, a range of questions about the meanings of `audience? and `reception? will be addressed. The primary focus of the module will be on traditions of work that have informed in various ways audience and reception studies in media and cultural studies (with particular focus on film and television), along with consideration of the weaker but still important traditions of research around theatrical and performance audiences. However some attention will also be given to related works on other media (eg, popular literature and magazines, comic books, and the press), and students will be encouraged to draw on backgrounds in other fields (for instance literary studies) for parallel traditions of enquiry. The module will lead to a consideration of the changes introduced by the arrival of new media, where new kinds of `audiencing?, centred on interaction, are involved. Equally there will be a consideration of the differences generated by the questions and requirements of academic, policy-directed and commercially-driven researches.

Reading Lists

** Recommended Background
Abercrombie, Nicholas & Brian Longhurst (1998) Audiences London: Sage
Barker, Martin & Julian Petley (eds) (2001) Ill Effects: the Media Violence Debate London: Routledge
Bourdieu, Pierre (1984) Distinction Cambridge: Harvard University Press
Fish, Stanley (1980) Is There a Text in this Class?: the authority of interpretive communities Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press
Gauntlett, David (1995) Moving Experiences: Understanding Television?s Influences and Effects Luton: John Libbey
Handel, Leo (1950) Hollywood Looks At Its Audiences Urbana: University of Illinois Press
Harris, Cheryl & Alison Alexander (1998) Theorizing Fandom: Fans, Subculture and Identity, Cresskill NJ: Hampton Press
Iser, Wolfgang (1974) The Implied Reader Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
Johnson, James (1995) Listening in Paris Berkeley: California University Press
Jowett, Garth et al (1996) Children and the Movies: Media Influence and the Payne Fund Controversy Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Lowery, Shearon & Melvin DeFleur (1983) Milestones in Mass Communication Research NY: Longman
Ruddock, Andy (2000) Understanding Audiences: Theory and Method London: Sage
Staiger, Janet (2000) Perverse Spectators: the Practices of Film Reception NY: New York University Press
Wood, Andrew F (2001) Online Communication: Linking Technology, Identity and Culture Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
You may also study the following books in relation to particular subjects:
** Recommended Background
Ang, Ien (1985) Watching Dallas: Soap Operas and the Melodramatic Imagination London: Methuen
Darnton, Robert (1984) The Great Cat Massacre London: Allen Lane
Gillespie, Marie (1985) Television, Ethnicity and Cultural Change London: Routledge
Hermes, Joke (1997) Reading Women?s Magazines Cambridge: Polity Press
Hunt, Darnell (1997) Screening the Los Angeles `Riots? NY: Cambridge University Press
Jenkins, Henry (1992) Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture NY: Routledge, Chapman & Hall
Morley, David (1980) The Nationwide Audience: Structure and Decoding London: BFI

Poe, Thomas (2001) `Historical spectatorship around and about Stanley Kramer?s On The Beach?, in Richard Maltby & Melvyn Stokes (eds), Hollywood Spectatorship: Changing Perceptions of Cinema Audiences London: BFI

Radway, Janice (1991) Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy and Popular Literature Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina


This module is at CQFW Level 7