Call for Responses
The 2012 Flow Conference will resemble traditional academic meetings in name only: there will be no panels, no papers, and no plenary sessions. Instead, the event will feature a series of roundtables, each organized around a discussion question on contemporary issues in television/media culture and scholarship. Respondents are asked to submit a brief abstract addressing one of the roundtable questions listed below. We especially encourage responses that address issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, age, and ability, as well as international perspectives.
The deadline for submissions has passed.
Please submit a response to only one roundtable topic. However, we imagine that some individuals will have interest in several roundtable discussions and thus difficulty choosing between them. We want to accommodate as many people and their preferences as possible. Therefore, it would be helpful for us to know about those individuals who are willing to participate in another roundtable if too many responses are submitted for their original question.
If this applies to you, please submit one response to one roundtable question AND let us know two other roundtable questions in which you’re interested. If the original question to which you respond produces too many responses, we will invite you to submit a response to one of the other questions.
We will inform participants of acceptance via e-mail by early August. Upon acceptance, respondents will be asked to expand their abstract to a 600-800 word position paper, due in October 2012.
If your question was accepted you DO NOT need to submit an abstract of your position paper. We will contact you during the summer with further information on your next step.
Note concerning UT RTF students: While we welcome your participation with the conference, we ask that you do not submit a response to a roundtable. If you would like to be a part of the 2012 conference, you can either join the conference committee by sending us an e-mail or look for upcoming volunteer opportunities (such as panel moderating) this fall. This only applies to RTF graduate students; UT students from other departments are welcome to submit an abstract.
2012 Roundtable Questions:
“On the Next Arrested Development”: Netflix as Television Producer
Netflix started with the goal of providing DVDs of films through the mail, subsequently moved to streaming films, and now derives the bulk of its revenue from streaming recent television programming, rather than feature films. What does this portend for the future of theatrical films’ distribution through video rental and streaming services? How does this shift affect Netflix’s new role as a television producer–for such shows as Lilyhammer, House of Cards, and the re-boot of Arrested Development? How does Netflix’s practice of bringing in talent like David Fincher, Kevin Spacey, and Mitchell Hurwitz, to produce its original programming, impact broadcast television? Additionally, how does television streaming via Netflix affect the manner in which audiences consume television shows?
Other Television Histories
This roundtable invites contributions from those who are interested in developing a transnational history of television as a medium that has been both national and globally networked from the beginning. The history of TV in the US and Britain has been fairly well mapped; and research on Western European TV histories is currently thriving. However, there are still only scattered resources on the development of television in more marginal, postcolonial places. I am interested in finding out what we learn when we juxtapose historical research on television in central and marginal locations. What kinds of economic, industrial, cultural and ideological exchanges become visible? How can we usefully employ existing research methods/findings developed in TV and media studies, to generate a truly “global” history of TV? How will such a globalized history influence and perhaps modify the main directions of television research, which privilege commercial and public-service broadcast models in national contexts?
Topic of interest could include analyses of industrial or ideological synergies among television systems generally thought as radically different when it comes to the role of propaganda, the relationship between education and entertainment or efforts to foster nation-building or the formation of regional or transnational identities through television. Other possibilities include but are not limited to television-mediated diasporas, program exchanges, broadcast signal-sharing across borders, the dispersion of global “modes” such as satire or and genres such as soap opera, news or commercials. Contributions that focus on how to teach the history of global television are particularly welcome.
As TV scholars, we continuously discuss the motivations and frameworks for our research, but how do we teach television? Most of us teach television on a regular basis and consequently make decisions about how we represent television—as an industry, as a cultural institution, and as a medium—to our students. This roundtable focuses on the decisions and difficulties involved in teaching television, including course design, institutional environment/support, access to material, etc. We can only include a small slice of television programming in our syllabi; how do we decide what to in- or exclude? How do we teach TV in rooms not set up for screenings, or with schedules that don’t allow for separate screening times? How do we include older or international TV programming when we may not have access to an institutional or personal archive and are consequently limited to what has been made available on DVD? How can digital scholarly publications like Flow, Antenna, or In Media Res become teaching resources? What happens when blogs, due to their faster publication cycles and open access, constitute the only available scholarly source on an aspect of contemporary media culture?
“Representation in the Post-Network Era”
The field of cultural studies has produced especially fertile ground for scholars committed to critiques of television images of race, class, gender, sexuality, and nation. This work has pointed to the ways that mainstream television texts simultaneously provide limited parameters for representation, and are rife with possibilities for openings, alternatives, and interpretations. As the media industries have experienced unprecedented transformation in recent years, however, scholars have increased their emphasis on studying the technology, business models, marketing practices, and economic and regulatory policies of television. Yet, the emergence of new cable channels such as OWN, Magic Johnson and Sean “P Diddy” Combs’ Aspire network, as well as Comcast’s promise to create new channels dedicated to “diversity” offer new opportunities for thinking about representational politics in the post-network era. The Internet and the growth of internet-based television (including new online networks and the expansion of the webisode format) have further expanded the possibilities.
What do cable TV’s ties to cultures of branding tell us about the potential for and significance of representational politics today? How are the representational concerns of these new networks impacted by regulatory patterns and industry business practices?
Finally, how can we understand historical concerns about diversity and representation in relation to the proliferation of new cable and online outlets? It is no coincidence that alternative media forms and more directly, counter-hegemonic perspectives, are being created, fed, circulated, grown by performers of color via the Internet. What makes online environments, both in terms of production and consumption, a distinctly different realm for representational discourses? At the same time, how is the border between margin and center not “crossed” but rather dis/integrated by producer-artists who manage their online status, forging a different – and successful – system of fandom and stardom?
“#IHateThisShow!”: Anti-Fandom in the Digital Age
In the twenty years since publication of Jenkins’ Textual Poachers, fan studies (and the cultural value of fandom) has come a long way. One of fan studies’ enduring strengths is its focus on and valuation of affect, particularly its emphasis on fans’ positive feelings of like and love (however conflicted those feelings may be). Examined less frequently are the equally intense, yet opposite feelings of dislike and hatred. Are anti-fans fans? What do anti-fans reveal about a text’s construction, appeal, and success?
Popular television criticism, in this Internet era, often involves “hate watching” certain shows. Websites like The A.V. Club and Television Without Pity often provide an anti-fan’s perspective on popular shows and their comment sections are often full of anti-fan reactions and criticisms. How can we understand this mode of television criticism? How can we understand the role of social networking in the anti-fan experience? How does the gathering of anti-fans on websites like Twitter affect the anti-fan experience? What can the study of anti-fans contribute to fan studies? How can and should we study dislike and hate? What can the study of negative affect offer to television studies?”
Micro Politics in a Digital World
A major national election is around the corner–just days after the Flow Conference. The Presidential contest and down-ballot Congressional races will garner justifiable attention, but national politics represent only a tiny sliver of contemporary political activity. What are the implications of digital media for local, micro, fringe, and other alternative publics and politics? For this roundtable, we’d like to open up the conversation to discuss the role of digital media in the activities of such disparate political groups as anarchists and Greens, food activists and neighborhood advocates, militia movements and religious fundamentalists. As the notion of “mass media” grows ever more quaint, how do we bridge the gulf between the billion-dollar scale of national party politics and the idiosyncratic, intensely local political practices that may more directly shape our lives? How do these kinds of political organizing shape our understanding of the multiple interlocking public spheres we inhabit?
Toddlers, Teen Moms, and Timeouts: The Role of Class in Reality Parenting Programming
Reality parenting programming delights in humiliating mothers. Makeover reality parenting shows like Supernanny and Wife Swap feature mothers who are scrutinized as they scream and swear at their children, smack them, ignore them and resort to sarcasm at their expense. These parenting shows often focus disproportionately on failures of the mother, suggesting that she bears more responsibility for the failures of both parents. Similarly, popular reality programs like Toddlers and Tiaras and Dance Moms follow families while inviting viewers to judge mother figures and take pleasure in their parenting failures. Finally, Teen Mom chronicles the lives of teenage mothers while paying only peripheral attention to the fathers.Why does a reality show called Teen Dad seem so inconceivable? Most of these shows feature middle or lower class parents, and tabloids regularly track the exploits of their most popular stars. How can we understand the role of class in such representations of motherhood and motherwork? What does the tendency to focus on motherhood instead of fatherhood reveal about the representation of women on reality television?
From Page to Screen to Classroom: Teaching Comic Studies
The discipline of Comics Studies has recently began to emerge in the United States thanks to the translation of French texts (Thierry Groensteen, Jean-Paul Gabilliet) and the formation of major critical journals (Studies in Comics, The Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics). The discipline has been suffering a bit of an identity crisis due in part to the convergence of the American film and comic book industries. In an attempt to move beyond discussions of film adaptation and industrial convergence (which are not unimportant topics, just the dominant ones), what other Media Studies frameworks would prove useful for elaborating upon the theories and methods of Comics Studies? Or, to put it more broadly, what does a Comics Studies curriculum look like and where should it be housed?
For instance, if we were to intersect Comics Studies with Television Studies, how can the concept of the serialized narrative broaden our understanding and analysis of both television and comics as providing homes for ongoing stories? In transmedia terms, comics and television have often worked in tandem to elaborate upon the worlds established in one media form. This phenomenon has even gone as far as the comic book series for Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and Angel, which have “wrapped up” their respective narratives – both of which started as television shows. How effective have these properties been aesthetically, economically, and critically? Which properties can best utilize, for lack of a better term, the Whedon model of transmedia storytelling?
Queer Media Studies’ Futures
The development of location-based services such as Grindr, the debates spawned by the “It Gets Better” project, and the emergence of queer gaming communities raise questions about the future of queer media studies. What is the point of queer media studies? What are the political stakes of this intellectual project? What are the evaluative, deliberative, and/or descriptive dimensions of a queer media studies that embraces textual representations, labor, participation, platform politics, and networked flows? What challenges do new media and communication technologies pose to queer theorizing about media representation, reception, and production? What challenges do they pose to the traditional methodologies used by cinema and media scholars? How can queer media studies scholars speak and write in a language more accessible to diverse queer communities? How might new media and communication technologies facilitate this process?
Media Studies and the Digital Humanities Movement
Debates in the digital humanities are vast, as Matthew Gold’s recent book of that title demonstrates. And the kind of practices that get grouped under the heading Digital Humanities are quite diverse. Some, like Stanley Fish, see the use of computers to analyze large bodies of literature as a way of automating the practice of reading. Others, especially those hoping to build a Digital Commons, understand the term as, among other things, a way of creating new tools for building and maintaining open access archives and experimenting with new forms of publishing. For others still, the value of the term Digital Humanities lies in the potential it signals for new, collaborative methodologies, ones that would not only link scholars in the humanities to scholars in other fields such as information sciences, artificial intelligence, and of course computer science, it would also bring humanists together in new ways.
Media Studies, including but not limited to “New Media” Studies, must surely have a stake in this emergent matrix of discourses and practices. How might media scholars participate in the burgeoning practices and debates around the concept of the Digital Humanities?
Tweens, Teens, and In Betweens: The Legacy of the WB
Close to 20 years ago, the WB network emerged to actively court teen and young adult viewers, primarily targeting the first wave of “Millennials.” Though ultimately the channel disappeared from view when it segued into the current CW, the impact of the WB has been far-reaching, from inspiring industry change to molding viewer tastes. This roundtable seeks to explore the impact of the WB, both during its hey-day and beyond. Would we have Disney, Teen Nick, and ABC Family today without it? Would we have the concept of Millennials as a media market? Has the CW meant more of the same (both pro and con) or is this truly a new network in the field? What does the future hold for TV aimed at teens, if we look to the WB’s history as a guide?
Game Studies as Media Studies
Video game studies and media studies are both interdisciplinary fields. Game scholars often emerge from literature, film, or communication backgrounds, but many scholars have also pursued approaches to studying games informed by the disciplinary perspectives of geography, anthropology, sociology, musicology, psychology, and computer science, among others. At the same time, some game scholars have insisted on the specificity of games and their distinctness, for instance, from narrative forms such as literature, movies, and TV. What benefit might game scholars derive from seeing the field not as a discipline or as a crossroads of many disciplines, but as a part of humanities-oriented media studies, and in particular the kind of interdisciplinary cultural studies of media that make up much of the best contemporary scholarly work on film, television, and popular music? How can game studies benefit from placing texts in the circuit of culture made up of industries, technologies, audiences, and the social world? How can politically-engaged historical and critical approaches of media studies enrich game studies and set an agenda for future research?
Playing with Capital, Capitalizing Play
Video game studies has made substantial strides in recent years by moving beyond text-focused questions concerning rule structures and interactive stories, to considering the significance of para-texts and play in generating meaningful gameplay experiences. One of the more productive, if open, terms in these conversations has been “gaming capital,” or the leveraging of knowledge about a game’s history, control interfaces, rules of play, etc., for various ends. For example, think of how the collective knowledge of amateur modding communities routinely impacts game studios’ design choices and publishers’ marketing campaigns in consequential ways. Or, consider the ability of organizations like Major League Gaming to commodify competitive gaming, transforming what was a recreational pursuit into a profitable spectator sport. Think too of those gamers who earn acclaim as experts by posting their video “walkthroughs” to public venues like YouTube and Vimeo. All of these are examples of gaming capital.
Yet –perhaps owing to its openness and its broad applicability– the concept has been frustratingly difficult to pin down. How, then, might we better conceptualize and operationalize this elusive and highly contextual term for future studies? What insights might it shed on the relationship between developers and players, and the value (financial, social, cultural) of information that is traded inside and outside of game spaces? And, finally, how might gaming capital be connected to narratology, ludology, and other formalist or textual areas of game studies to produce more holistic and comprehensive cultural critiques?
The Deracialization of Global Television Studies
Since the 1960s scholars have researched and theorized global television flows. From cultural imperialism to theories on globalization, hybridity, and multiple proximities, scholars have paid attention to how center-periphery and multi-directional economic, political, cultural, and industrial conditions have influenced the production, selling, and consumption of television globally and regionally. Largely absent from this collective work is the issue of race. How do we account for the deracialization of global television studies? How have disciplinary approaches, cannons, and primary geographic concerns (U.S./ England versus “the rest”) influenced how scholars study (or overlook) race? Should the question of race in global television be left to sociologists and anthropologists? Or, if global television scholars take up this issue, how would putting race at the center alter the field?“ What particular case studies might be especially productive in helping us to foreground race in global television studies?”
Just Satire? Minority Television Culture and Post-Racial Ideologies
How have recent changes in the media industries–including, but not limited to, digital distribution platforms, fragmentation, globalization, connected viewing–reshaped minority television culture, both within and beyond the United States? How do we understand the relationship between contemporary television satire and post-racial ideologies? Are their different forms of satire that carry different cultural-political potentialities? Or are the politics of Chappelle’s Show equivalent to those of Modern Family? Can we (or should we) complicate the conventional scholarly argument that television satire merely smuggles racial stereotypes back into television in a manner that is difficult to challenge because the images are, after all, “just satire”?
From Suits to Talent: “Management” in the Cultural Industries
“Management” is often discussed within media studies in opposition to creative labor, as the bottom-line-focused suits seeking to either commercialize art or constrain innovation. While there has been a renewed interest in exploring production cultures and tactical engagements between the multiple occupational communities that collectively produce culture, management still largely remains the default villain in these stories, the entity against whom creatives, artists, fans and craft persons inevitably must battle in order to see some compromised version of their vision realized. All of this, of course, greatly oversimplifies (or obscures altogether) the functions “management” serves within increasingly horizontally integrated and geographically dispersed cultural production contexts. This roundtable seeks to investigate management as a form of cultural mediation occurring within multiple media industry spaces, taken up by varying populations, from “suits” to “talent.” What if we conceptualized “management” less as a job title accompanied by a set of responsibilities than as an array of intersecting – and often contradictory – discourses, dispositions and tactics taken up by media industry professionals in making sense of their occupational identities (both who they are and who they are not) and in asserting their authority within particular socio-historical and industrial contexts?
Aesthetics and Politics in Television Studies
The relationship between aesthetics and politics has been a subject of much debate and discussion in critical theory and in such fields as art history, photography and film theory, performance studies, and so on; it has not, though, explicitly been the subject of much debate and discussion in Television Studies. There are a number of reasons for this, stemming from the history of discipline and from the cultural associations of TV itself. Thus, while the question of television’s political impact has always been posed as a central one (even if it has not always been sufficiently answered), at earlier points in its history, the question of a “TV aesthetics” has not; indeed, the very notion of a TV aesthetics would have been seen as “out of the question” given the low esteem in which the medium was held.
More recently, however, an explicit interest in televisual aesthetics has emerged—a kind of “aesthetic turn.” Yet how this relates to televisual politics—and/or to the politics of Television Studies—has still not always been posed (or has not always been framed in relation to those traditions in critical theory that address art and politics). What should we make of the interest in televisual aesthetics? Is this a welcome or troubling turn? Does it shift the way in which we study TV, or who studies TV, or what “study” of TV might even mean and what its implications are? Does it open up new arenas for interrogating or conceptualizing a televisual politics, or does it leave those aside—and, if so, how should we deal with that? How can we articulate and theorize a connection between television’s political and aesthetic terms? In sum, how can we best think through the relation between televisual politics and televisual aesthetics—or can’t we? And how can we best think through the very politics of Television Studies at this moment of an “aesthetic turn”?
The Good, The Bad, and the Cult: Television Studies Sensibilities
Should we study individual television shows/why do we study individual television shows? When particular programs particularly fit acafan/television studies sensibilities, they tend to dominate discussion in the field for quite some time. Often these programs fall into the cult/telefantasy slots (Star Trek, The X-Files, Lost, and so forth) or into the quality television slot (Northern Exposure, The West Wing, and so forth). What are the motivations for studying these programs, aside from the fact that television scholars often fall within the target demographics? Are we interested in how these programs exemplify certain broader textual and extratextual trends (e.g, televisuality, narrative complexity, fandom) or in their subsequent impact upon the television industry (e.g the many telefantasy programs that sprang up in the wake of Lost) or in their exemplification of industrial trends (e.g. Social television, transmedia storytelling). Can an argument be made that certain programs deserve study “simply” by virtue of their interesting and perhaps “good” storytelling and aesthetics even if they are not exemplary of broader trends? And how do all these questions relate to debates about quality, value and regimes of evaluation?
Reed-ing Between the Lines: The Future of the Black Sitcom
In April of 2010, BET announced the decision to revive the long-cancelled CW sitcom The Game. The show premiered to 7.7 million viewers and far outperformed its previous CW ratings. The channel later introduced Reed Between the Lines, starring Tracee Ellis Ross (Girlfriends) and Malcolm-Jamal Warner (The Cosby Show). Does the combination of two former broadcast network stars, coupled with the success of Tyler Perry’s sitcoms (House of Payne and Meet the Browns) on TBS, indicate that the future of the black sitcom is on cable? What do “black” sitcoms look like today? How do these new cable-based black sitcoms compare to their broadcast predecessors? How are they similar, and how are they different? How do the industrial constraints of cable affect production and syndication? What are the politics and possible consequences of this shift?
Broke Girls and Men at Work: 2011-2012’s Television Gender Wars
Many commentators noted that the 2011-2012 television lineup featured new shows, such as Last Man Standing, Man Up!, How to Be a Gentleman, Work It, and Men at Work, which thematically focused on a crisis of masculinity. In equal measure, shows such as New Girl, 2 Broke Girls, and Girls, which also premiered during this period, sparked widespread debates over the programs’ representations of femininity and gender relations. What can we make of these sitcoms’ representations of masculinity and femininity in relation to issues of race, class, age and gender? Finally, most of the male-crisis sitcoms were cancelled (only Last Man Standing will continue on to its second season), while all three of the female-crisis programs were renewed. Why did the shows centering on male issues tend to fail among audiences while the shows focusing on female issues succeeded?
What’s in a title (sequence)? Opening and Closing Sequences in Television
Both separate from, and an intimate part of, a film or television show’s diegesis, the opening title sequence has begun to receive some critical and analytical attention in recent years. And yet, this attention has primarily focused on single and exceptional title sequences and not on the ontological, aesthetic or formal issues of the title sequence itself. This roundtable seeks to open up title sequences for wider interrogation and analysis. What is the role and status of the credit sequence: is it a paratextual or textual element? Is it separate from the series, show or film or is it an integral narrational, stylistic and diegetic element? How does the sequence set up or thwart genre, story or content expectations? How does it change or alter from episode to episode or over seasons? How does music interact with the sequence and its impact, meaning and popularity? As a distinct artistic entity frequently created by design firms, what is the connection of the title sequence to cultural industries, advertising, design aesthetics or point of origin (for instance, can we identify a HBO or Showtime title sequence style?)?
The Mad Men Effect? Original Scripted Series and Cable Network (Re)Branding
In recent years, cable networks have begun to rebrand themselves, altering their names, advertising strategies, and, perhaps most importantly, their programming lineups. Channels that have previously relied primarily on reality shows or film reruns are increasingly turning to original scripted series to establish their new brand identities. Even History (the cable network formerly known as The History Channel) has released its own star-studded scripted miniseries (Hatfields & McCoys). Perhaps this trend can be traced to the commercial and critical success of AMC’s Mad Men, which secured the network’s reputation as a producer of quality programming. While network self-reinvention is nothing new (MTV provides an excellent example), what implications does the latest trend toward original scripted series have for the longevity of reality programming? For the future of specialty or film channels?
Television Ratings and Audience Measurement in the Digital Age
Despite the proliferation of online viewing platforms, TV audience measurement systems have been slow to adapt to multiple screens. This is not due to lagging technology, but the fact that audiences of first-run airings remain the most valuable to advertisers, meaning viewers of online and DVR-recorded content are largely excluded from the ratings numbers. This roundtable examines the shortcomings of using traditional television ratings measurements in a digital age, as well as potential solutions. How might online and DVR viewing be monetized in order to make these audiences more attractive to advertisers? What do online viewing platforms and their potential to tailor advertising to individual consumers mean for the future of the 30- or 60-second ad spot? If online and DVR audiences became more profitable, how would this shape television production, particularly in the case of cult shows that slowly gain popularity online or late in a season?
New content platforms, applications and connecting devices (roku, cable, tablets, etc.) are changing how many people choose and watch content. Indeed, the multiplying viewing and using options have created a rupture in standardized terminology to describe the experience that straddles content use and creative, information and entertainment, and on-demand and flow models of content delivery. How are people using these devices and thinking through their program options? How do participants/users think about contributing their own content in this domain? That is, with whom are they communicating or trying to reach? To what extent is the era in which we contrasted news and information seeking from entertainment entirely gone – when or under what circumstances are these viable distinctions?
Britannia Rules the Waves? Popular British Programming on American Public Television
The recent success of PBS’s airing of Downton Abbey–a US/UK collaboration, produced by Hartwood Films and WGBH Boston–raises interesting questions about the role of public service television both nationally and internationally. What is, or, alternately, what should be, the role of public television in the US? Globally? How is funding made available for such shows? How are the shows marketed? What does Downton mean for the future of public broadcasting in America? How has new media, particularly streaming, changed the landscape of public television internationally? What are the financial arrangements involved in transnational co-productions? Who is public service television really serving?
Head in the Cloud: Rethinking Distribution in the Digital Age
A wide range of literature on the media industries has emerged in recent years. There has been a particular emphasis by scholars on theorizing and researching production practices. Yet there has been comparatively less extensive work focused on analyzing distribution in a methodical manner. This panel seeks to provide a platform through which to underscore the importance of studying distribution and mapping what “distribution studies” might look like in the digital age.
What might a scholarly focus on distribution entail? Does media convergence demand that we rethink how film, television, music, and/or game distribution have been conceptualized in the past? Do different issues emerge around different media forms, or are the challenges faced by different media companies consistent? Are there particular research methods and theoretical frameworks that might be especially useful for analyzing distribution in the contemporary era? Do different issues or stakes emerge in the study of distribution than in the study of production? What might explain the greater emphasis by scholars on distribution over production? Is it possible to examine “distribution cultures” and, if so, what might such studies look like?
Where’s the Money? Commoditizing Contemporary Television
In an era in which television series, web series, and micro-budget films are able to survive with smaller and smaller niche audiences, in which some television shows stay on the air because they create critical buzz for a network rather than pulling in a large share of viewers, and in which advertisers must adapt their sponsorship to these shifts in production and screened viewing practices, it can be challenging to trace and study how, where, and when money is made in contemporary television and related media. This roundtable invites discussion of the myriad ways in which developments in contemporary television and related media are influencing economies of financing, production, and profit-making. Topics addressed might include but are not limited to relevant industry trends, the impact of web series on the conceptualization of television financing and profits, and the importance of brand management, genre, and niche markets to profit-making dynamics.
Going Mobile: The Ethics of Tracking Social Media Audiences
The production, circulation, and consumption of media flourish across digital technologies. Content, once assumed to route through a single channel at a set time, now has the capacity to “go mobile” via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. How, then, might media scholars most productively imagine “audiences” and our relationship to them? Where are “they” and how do we ethically and pragmatically study the massive piles of digital traces that social media audiences leave behind? In the wake of such disparate and dispersed reception practices, what do we qualitatively access when we “scrape” big data sets? This roundtable will ask participants to think through the methodological and ethical obligations that give shape to cultural studies of social media.
Sports Media and Celebrity
This roundtable discusses the increased coverage of and unprecedented access to sporting events and individual athletes that has developed alongside the new media changes of the past few decades. What effects has American coverage of major international sporting events, such as the Olympics and the World Cup, had on the popularity of particular sports, countries and athletes? In what ways has new media changed both the national and international perception of athletes? How has the sports fan changed? This past year, we saw the media frenzy, popularly referred to as “Linsanity,” created around NBA player Jeremy Lin. What can this and other sports phenomena reveal about things such as global markets, sport fandom, race, sexuality, and the changing role of the celebrity-athlete?