Posts tagged ‘media studies’

9 March 2011

Torchwood declassified. CfP

If only there were more hours in the day…

CFP: Torchwood Declassified: Investigating Mainstream Cult Television

Proposals are sought for a edited collection on the BBC Wales programme Torchwood (2006-) . Entitled Torchwood Declassified: Investigating Mainstream Cult Television, the collection is to be published by I.B.Tauris in their long-established Investigating Cult TV series.

Building on a recent one-day symposium, held at the University of Glamorgan, the collection seeks to examine the show from a range of perspectives, given the current production of the show’s fourth series. The collection allows examination of both the specifics of the show itself (e.g. through the television show, the audio dramas, audience texts such as fan fiction) and wider debates within Television Studies surrounding representation, identity, genre, institutions and audiences.
Chapters on a range of topics have already been secured but further contributions are sought with chapters on the following issues being of particular interest:

  • Representations of horror and/or science-fiction within Torchwood
  • The production of the BBC radio plays
  • Torchwood’s multi-platforming and ancillary texts (e.g. novelisations, magazines, reviews, DVDs, website etc.)
  • The globalisation/international appeal of the show and its new direction as a co-production between BBC Wales, BBC Worldwide, and the US network Starz
  • Torchwood ‘anti-fandom’ (e.g. fans of Doctor Who that dislike Torchwood, Torchwood fans who dislike John Barrowman)

When submitting proposals please bear in mind that awareness and discussion of Torchwood’s status as a cult and/or mainstream television show will be expected, even if this is not the main topic of your proposed chapter.

Please submit proposals of no more than 250 words, along with a 200 word author biography to Dr. Rebecca Williams by 1 April 2011. It is anticipated that full papers will be submitted at the end of 2011, to allow authors to consider the fourth series of the show.

…via ECREA

1 March 2011


ECREA – European Communications Research and Education Association – is a mine of information on all things mediated. Frequent emails on journals, calls for papers, summer schools, jobs… Nico Carpentier must have massive energy and a broad range of sources to keep the list updated as he does.


16 February 2009

Alternative media and protest

An article in the most recent Communication Quarterly is exactly the sort of linear media effects studies I mentioned yesterday. But this study analyses the positive, democratic, activist effects of alternative media rather than the traditional focus on the effects of violence on mainstream television. The results seem to be cause for optimism.


Much research has explored the role media use plays in political participation. A limitation of this work is that alternative forms of media (e.g., protest Web sites) and participation (e.g., protests) have largely been ignored. Research shows that news media treat protest activity critically, suggesting mainstream media use might discourage alternative participation. This study employs a Random Digit Dialing survey (N = 476) of a large Midwestern community to examine the role mainstream and alternative media play in influencing both traditional political participation and protest forms of participation. The findings suggest that alternative media are positively related to alternative participation and underscore the emerging importance of Web-based media.

Michael P. Boyle and Mike Schmierbach (2009) ‘Media Use and Protest: The Role of Mainstream and Alternative Media Use in Predicting Traditional and Protest Participation’. Communication Quarterly 57 (1): 1 – 17.

15 February 2009

Is Facebook surrogate democracy?

Once more, Facebook and other social networking sites are the focus of academic discourse. The inaugural issue of Global Media Journal (open source) includes one paper which argues strongly that in our contemporary context, “information, communication and participation” are surrogates for “motivation, judgment and action”, i.e., for democratic political engagement.

This implies, in turn, that we may be settling for publicity in the place of the more the demanding democratic goods of politicization and equality. Somewhat more ominously, the popular embrace of these surrogates via emerging media technologies may actually undermine the prospect of a politics aimed at more radical outcomes. (Darin Barney [2008] Politics and Emerging Media: The Revenge of Publicity. Global Media Journal 1[1])

Although this position is far more subtle than the traditional media studies argument between academics who understand media effects as the linear adaption of media messages by passive/receptive audiences and other observers who articulate notions of active audiences/viewsers, an immediate question to these authors still arises. Are the participants in such Web 2.0 sites the same target group who would have otherwise engaged in “more radical” politics? Or are they today’s equivalent of those members of previous generations who may well have engaged actively with media (television, newspapers, etc.) in their private lives, but did not actively work towards active politicization or radical democracy. [One of my favourite examples of radical engagement with media in private spaces is Constance Penley’s (1997) NASA/Trek: Popular Science and Sex in America. Verso]

On optimistic days, I’d point to the activisation of Facebook users who join, e.g., the CAAT (Campaign Against Arms Trade) group. On more pessimistic days, my first reaction to social networking sites is the huge problem arising from the amount of personal information we voluntarily make public. The KGB, the CIA, public relations companies and marketing managers would have paid exorbitant sums for this info in previous eras.