Symposium Information

Researching Media Audiences from the Movie Theatre to the Digital Age: Methods, Challenges, Opportunities

29 April 2024, Lancaster University

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Researching Media Audiences from the Movie Theatre to the Digital Age Methods, Challenges, Opportunities

29 April 2024, Lancaster University

BLN – Bowland Nth SR 10

Welcome & Registration 9:30-10:00

10:00-10:15 Opening Remarks: Dalila Missero, The Audience Network @ Lancaster University

10:15-11:30 Panel 1: Researching Historical Cinema-Going

Chair: Johnathan Ilott

  1. “Looking for the invisible woman in plain sight: female audiences in the 1910s and 1920s” Veronica Johnson, Maynooth University
  2. “Tracing Cinema-Going Habits Through Local Newspapers: A Case Study of Udine” Eleonora Roaro, NABA Milan
  3. “Refreshing minds and connecting people: researching cinemagoing memories among Chilean women” María Paz Peirano, Universidad de Chile/ Antwerp University

11:30-11:45 Coffee Break

11:45- 13:00 Keynote Address

Prof. Annette Kuhn, Queen Mary University of London
“Life history methods in audience research: origins and principles”

Chair: Dalila Missero

13:00- 14:00 Lunch Break

14:00-15:45 Panel 2: Fandom and digital participation

Chair: Zoe Crombie

  1. “Contemplating the Neuroaffirmative Potential of Fandom and Cultural Studies” Georgia Thomas-Parr, University College London
  2. “Fleeting Fandom. Communities in Crisis and Methodological Transformations” Anja Boato, Sapienza Università di Roma
  3. “Rethinking Audience Participation in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (AI)” Eva Cheuk-Yin, Li, Lancaster University
  4. “Extending the cinema: Spaces and cultures of cinema-going in VR film exhibition” Laryssa Whittaker, Royal Holloway, University of London

15:45-16:00 Coffee Break

16:00-17:30 Panel 3: New Methodological Insights and Perspectives on Audiences

Chair: Patricia Prieto-Blanco

  1. “TV audiences as ‘affective superaddressee’: A Production Studies account of imagined audiences in an illiberal democracy” Siao Yuong (Rong) Fong, Lancaster University
  2. “Bridging the Gap Between Audience Research and Cognitive Film Studies: How an Empirical Study of Identification with Fictional Characters Can Help to Solve Interdisciplinary Squabbles” Hanna Kubicka, University of the Arts London
  3. “Festivals in Times of conflict: audience responses of London Palestine Film Festival 2023” Maryam Ghorbankarimi (Lancaster University) and Yael Friedman (University of Portsmouth)

17:30-17:45 Closing Remarks

29 April 2024, Lancaster University

Organizers: The Audience Network at Lancaster University (ANLU)

Confirmed Speaker: Prof. Annette Kuhn (Queen Mary University of London)

  • Deadline for submission of abstracts: 29 March 2024
  • Notification of Acceptance: 12 April 2024

Since its first engagements with television, radio, and popular culture (Williams 1974; Hall 1973; Ang 1985), audience studies have explored everyday media consumption through bottom-up approaches that merge critical and feminist theory with qualitative methods. In tackling the impact of globalization and digital media, the field has expanded and diversified its scope to capture a broader range of audience practices and positionings. In order to address the growing fragmentation of contemporary audiences (Livingstone 2007) the field has shifted its prevailing focus on the Anglo-American context to a polycentric geography that includes a wider spectrum of media cultures across the world. At the same time, research focusing on mainstream forms of media consumption goes hand in hand with the investigation of a diverse set of situated and niche practices. Scholarship on transnational (Athique 2016), migrant and diasporic audiences (Smets 2013; Hedge 2016) has also contributed to a much needed conversation around decolonization of methods and research agendas. Such diversification of topics, practices and objectives has also entailed a complexification of methodologies, which exceed the ‘traditional’ domains of media and cultural studies to include tools and methods from the digital humanities and data science, as well as a wider spectrum of qualitative methods (i.e., oral history, visual methods).  In 2017, the Deutsche Welle Akademie explored the challenges of audience research and media development. In their findings, they highlight that even though mixed methods approaches are often used in audience research, mixed methods designs are often misunderstood; and called universities to do the work of critical reflection on methods, as well as to offer sustained support and monitoring of implementation (Reineck et. al. 2017)

Outside of academia, the study of audiences has become a strategic branch in corporate and commercial research, particularly for marketing and branding (Mytton, Diem and van Dam 2016), with national bodies like Ofcom (2020, 2022) commissioning investigations to private companies instead of educational institutions. This raises broader questions about the incommensurability between theories of audience that inform professional industry practices and theories of audience used in empirical research, and points to the fact that audiences cannot be studied outside of their analytical construction (Ang 2002; Nightingale 1996).

All these considerations are relevant to the many subfields that constitute audience research today, which span from the historical inquiry on cinema-going (Kuhn 2002; Treveri-Gennari et al. 2024; Dass 2015; Li 2023) to the study of fandom, social media and digital audiences (Morrissey 2016; Booth 2010; Procter, Voss  and Lvov 2015; Al-Rawi 2017). Drawing from the liveliness and growing complexity of the field, this symposium aims to generate discussions around audience research with a specific attention to methods, the politics of location, ethics and inclusivity.

Proposals (300 words max) should be sent via this form We are especially interested in 15–20-minute papers – including work in progress – focusing on methodology in relation to specific projects but also in a more speculative fashion. Contributions from PGRs and Early Career Scholars are particularly welcome.

Possible areas include:

  • Feminist and Queer Methods
  • Audience Locations and Geographies
  • Historical Audiences
  • Digital Audiences
  • Decolonization of research methods and agendas
  • Institutional Audiences
  • Marketisation and commercialization of audience research
  • Reflexivity and Positionality
  • Audience Identities

This is a free event supported by the LICA Research Fund. Registration required. Light lunch provided.

ANLU/TAP - Audience Studies Joint Seminar Series

Welcome to the programme of our Audience Studies Joint Seminar series, organised in collaboration with The Audience Project – Oxford Brookes (TAP).

In order to survive, the arts need to reverse the trend that sees audiences diminishing, ageing, and relatively homogenous. In order to thrive, we need first to understand what audiences want – and then to turn spectators into fans. In this talk, Dr Kirsty Sedgman asks why fandom in the arts has often been ignored or dismissed over history by the very people who should welcome it – with everyone from the 19th century Matinee Girls to today’s Phans sneered at for liking the wrong kind of theatre, or for enjoying things in the wrong way, or even for damaging the cultural experience itself. This talk is a call to arms to take fans seriously: by dismantling the ableist, classist, racist structures that exclude marginalised audiences, and welcoming genuine demonstrations of enjoyment, pleasure, and joy.

Speaker’s Bio: An award-winning cultural studies scholar based at the University of Bristol, Dr Kirsty Sedgman has spent her career studying how we construct and maintain our competing value systems, working out how people can live side by side in the same world yet come to understand it in such totally different ways. Her research asks how audiences find value in cultural participation. How are these experiences made meaningful within their lives?

Kirsty is the author of numerous academic publications and is Editor of the Routledge book series in Audience Research. She has also spoken on the BBC’s Front Row and World Service programmes, at BroadwayCon in New York and IETM in Croatia, and on numerous podcasts and local radio shows. Her writing has appeared in The Stage, Exeunt, and the BBC’s Expert Network, and her work has featured in outlets like the Times Literary Supplement, the Guardian, and the New York Times

Link to join the seminar:

In this talk Sam Manning will discuss his transition from an academic researcher specialising in historic cinema audiences to his current role at Morris Hargreaves McIntyre where he works with a range of cultural organisations, such as museums, art galleries and heritage organisations, to help them develop and better understand their audiences. Drawing on a range of international projects, Sam will discuss a range of qualitative and quantitative methods, and share details of Culture Segments, the psychographic profiling system they use to differentiate audiences. Throughout this talk he will also share insights on post-Covid trends, which will hopefully provide a valuable perspective for those engaged in both historical and contemporary audience research. 

Speaker’s Bio: Sam Manning is a researcher at Morris Hargreaves McIntyre, an international strategy and insight consultancy based in Manchester. Prior to joining the company, he completed a PhD at Queen’s University Belfast exploring post-war cinema audiences in the UK, which was then later adapted into a book published by the Royal Historical Society. He then worked on several university projects exploring the history of cinema attendance across Europe.  

Link to join the seminar: Meeting ID: 818 2046 1075 Passcode: 9102608862


 “Shifting Constructions of Latinx/e Audiences in the U.S.” This presentation explores how Latinx/e media audiences in the U.S. are shifting in both the English-language and Spanish-language television markets. In particular, this presentation will identify key demographic shifts in terms of ethnicity, language use, and age that are guiding a more nuanced construction of Latinx/e viewers in a transnational television industry. The findings illustrate that audience studies needs to remain nimble in terms of how media industries engage with changing demographics.

Speaker’s bio: Jillian Báez is an associate professor in the Africana, Puerto Rican, and Latino Studies Department at Hunter College, City University of New York. She is also an affiliated faculty member at the CUNY Mexican Studies Institute and on the doctoral faculty in Women’s and Gender Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research expertise lies in Latina/o/x media and popular culture, transnational feminisms, and issues of belonging and citizenship. She is the author of In Search of Belonging: Latinas, Media and Citizenship (University of Illinois Press, 2018), recipient of the 2019 Bonnie Ritter Award for Outstanding Feminist Book at the National Communication Association. Dr. Báez’s research has also been in published in numerous peer-reviewed journals including Critical Studies in Media Communication; Communication, Culture & Critique; Feminist Media Studies; Women’s Studies Quarterly; Latino Studies; Centro: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, and Chicana/Latina Studies. 

Link to join the seminar: Meeting ID: 899 6702 126