• Fans & Consumption

      Duffett, Mark; University of Chester (Bloomsbury, 2020-08-06)
      This chapter surveys different ideas from popular music studies, fan studies and associated areas to explain how ‘the rock audience’ has been perceived. It outlines four theoretical perspectives which can be associated in various ways. The first suggests that our understanding of the audience is a consequence of rock’s extended reaction against elitist criticism. The second says rock has created a kind of community, or at least communality. The third suggests that mainstream media representations have hidden significant fan productivity. A final perspective suggests that ‘the rock audience’ is actually a composite housing a variety of discreet experiences based on the social identities of its individual participants. In other words, for example, males and female fans may have distinct experiences; the same goes for fans of particular generations, national identities, musical tastes, subgenre interests, and so on. The chapter argues that a critically nuanced approach is required: in every instance, we need to ask by who and for what purpose and is ‘the rock audience’ being defined.
    • Trauma and death in the digital age

      Waller, Rhian (SAGE Publications, 2019-07-05)
    • 'The best is yet come' - exclusive interview with Liverpool FC and Senegal star, Sadio Mane

      Hassall, Paul; University of Chester (TI Media Limited, 2019-03-05)
      An exclusive profile-interview with Liverpool and Senegal international, Sadio Mane. The forward discusses the burden of expectation for club and country.
    • I’m (Not) A Girl: Animating Experiences of Girlhood in Bob’s Burgers

      Barnett, Katie; University of Chester (Intellect, 2019-03-01)
      Discourses of girlhood increasingly acknowledge its mutability, with the ‘girl’ as a complex image that cannot adequately be conceptualized by age or biology alone. Likewise, theories of animation often foreground its disruptive potential. Taking an interdisciplinary approach that encompasses girlhood studies, animation studies, and screen studies, this article analyses the representation of the two main girl characters, Tina and Louise Belcher, in the animated sitcom Bob’s Burgers (2011–present). Taking this concept of mutability as its central focus, it argues that animation is an ideal medium for representing girlhood, given its disruptive potential and non-linear capacities, whereby characters are often frozen in time. With no commitment to aging its young female characters, Bob’s Burgers is instead able to construct a landscape of girlhood that allows for endless reversal, contradiction and overlap in the experiences of Tina and Louise, whose existence as animations reveals girlhood as a liminal space in which girls can be one thing and the other – gullible and intelligent, vulnerable and strong, sexual and innocent – without negating their multifarious experiences.
    • Introduction

      Hart, Christopher; University of Chester (Midrash, 2018-10-14)
      This introduction proposes the argument that during the First World War entertainments , media and popular culture used the war to attract audiences and readers - five propositions are introduced. The first is this. Entertainment as a topic for study is not trivial, inconsequential or irrelevant. To understand any culture look at what its members do for their entertainment. This includes looking at such things as, in 1914, jokes and humour, songs and music, drama and plays, cartoons and caricatures, films and animation, fiction and gossip, photographs and illustrations, advertising and posters, and newspapers and magazines. This proposition will be discussed in more detail once the other four propositions have been stated. The second position is this. The core activities that are taken as entertainment, such as the cinema, books, music and newspapers, are surrounded by the institutions, industries and crafts which bring the entertainments to the marketplace. The third position is the recognition people read, sing, watch, listen and laugh not just for leisure but also when doing work and other activities. Entertainment does not always have to be separate from the workplace or from time doing work-based tasks; it can be incorporated into most aspects of life. The fourth position follows on from longstanding debates about hierarchical schemes of entertainment regarding differentiated cultural value. Notions of high culture and low culture, popular culture and elite culture are overworked dichotomies that distract attention from the entertainment under study, as a thing in itself, and lead to prejudice against one of the classes of entertainment on the scale. If classical music performances are elitist, exclusionist and class-based it does not entail they are ‘bad' and things should be otherwise. It is not the music or musicians that are excluding anyone. It is the instructional arrangements that bring such performances to the marketplace, a lack of education provided about the value of the experience and, possibly, snobbishness of some audiences. The fifth proposition is entertainment is about audience experience. This can take multiple forms for the same audience of an entertainment. Bosshart and Macconi (1998) include the following in a list of possible experiences an audience member can take from consuming a particular media - obtaining relaxation, being distracted, seeing something different to the norm, seeking excitement or a thrill, wanting to laugh, sharing the joy and enjoying a place.
    • Remember Scarborough Re-Active Propaganda as Natural Ethics

      Hart, Christopher; University of Chester (Midrash, 2018-10-14)
      In chapter 2 Christopher Hart’s ‘Remember Scarborough. Re-Active Propaganda as Natural Ethics’ takes a popular and often reproduced poster called ‘remember Scarborough’ to propose the use of moral philosophy to recover the deeper meaning this and similar posters would have had following the German naval bombardments of towns on the North East English coast in December 1916. Hart asks, How did the official propaganda published following the bombardment of towns on the North East Coast of England, in December 1914, express deeply held moral outrage, and as such represented a real morality and not mistreatment of truth? At the core of his argument is that the poster ‘Remember Scarborough’ is not naïve propaganda or an exaggeration. Surveying the reasons given by the German high command and reporting of the bombardments in German newspapers, Hart argues there was no strategic justification for the attacks. Turning to deviancy theory and moral philosophy Hart proposes that the bombardments were an action of a German Navy, humiliated in a previous sea battle. They had to gain face with their high command and the German public that despite their attempts to justify the attacks, they expressed disregard for the Hague Convention (1906) and turned to revenge as a tactic, and as such, abandoned any claim to morality. The words and the images on the poster ‘Remember Scarborough’ are, according to Hart, much more than a call to arms; they express deeply held outrage that the attacks were an assault on humanity.
    • Leaving the Building: Elvis, Celebrity and the Limits of Psychological Autopsy

      Duffett, Mark; Hearsum, Paula; University of Chester; University of Brighton (l’Association Française d’Études Américaines, 2018-10-01)
      This article probes the limits of one particular mode of biographic investigation—psychological autopsy—and considers its relationship to the way in which fans have sought to understand their hero. Using Elvis as a case study, we aim to prompt wider discussion about the efficacy of psychological autopsy as a means of understanding popular individuals. If psychological autopsy is so compromised, why does it remain popular? Our discussion develops in two parts. The first examines how psychological autopsy departs from objectivity and is problematic as theory. The second asks why fans are still interested in discussing why Elvis died, even though psychological autopsy necessarily lacks methodological rigour.
    • Emotional Fusebox: Presence, absence and sibling loss in Adult Life Skills

      Barnett, Katie; University of Chester (2018-09-05)
      “Are you still a twin if your twin is dead?” This is the question that Anna (Jodie Whittaker) poses as she struggles to come to terms with the death of her brother Billy and her—their—imminent 30th birthday. The question structures much of Rachel Tunnard’s 2016 film Adult Life Skills, as Anna attempts to rebuild a life around the gaping absence of Billy and their shared childhood. Anna is challenged by those around her to both ‘let go’ of her brother and ‘grow up’. The film treats these not as parallel problems but, as it were, twin problems: one is inextricably linked to the other. As such, Tunnard’s film addresses the place and function of sibling relationships in adult life. In sociology, psychology and developmental studies, sibling relationships are often perceived as being primarily a facet of childhood, a lateral bond whose significance diminishes into adulthood. Adult Life Skills appears to give space to the adult brother-sister relationship and yet complicates this by erasing one of the pair; such a relationship is only ever figured, on screen, as one that twins presence with absence. Likewise, the narrative drives towards a point at which Anna might embark on a romantic relationship with a man. Indeed, Anna’s mother (Lorraine Ashbourne) measures her daughter’s grief by her willingness to engage with members of the opposite sex. There remains a sense that Anna would always have to ‘let go’ of Billy (absent or not), to avoid expending her energy on what amounts to the ‘wrong’ heterosocial pairing. This paper examines Adult Life Skills as one example of a recent film that tackles a young adult woman’s loss of her brother (see also Into the Wild [2007], Personal Shopper [2016]), and explores the ways in which a close brother-sister relationship is persistently figured through absence rather than presence.
    • 'A pit we have dug ourselves': The EU referendum and the Welsh democratic deficit

      Roberts, Simon Gwyn; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018-06-26)
      The chapter examines the Welsh Brexit vote from a news media perspective, locating it within the long-standing 'democratic deficit' and absence of Welsh national press.
    • On the Cusp: Exploring Male Adolescence and the Underbelly of High School in Freaks and Geeks

      Barnett, Katie; University of Chester (Routledge, 2018-06-26)
      This chapter examines the representation of adolescent masculinity in Freaks and Geeks, focusing on the three 'geeks' of the series' title. It suggests that the anxiety experienced by the boys in the series is a reflection on a wider crisis of masculinity, occurring both within the timeline of the programme (1980) and the period of its release (1999). The chapter also explores the function of nostalgia in Freaks and Geeks and discusses the issues of authenticity and realism around the series' depiction of an American high school experience.
    • The Evolution of Alan Grant: Narratives of Reproductive Futurism in Jurassic Park

      Barnett, Katie; University of Chester (2018-06-08)
      As a quintessential product of 1990s Hollywood, Jurassic Park is reflective not only of shifts in form, production, and marketing, but of the underlying cultural preoccupations of the decade. In an era when Hollywood’s action heroes were increasingly making the transition to domesticated fatherhood, Jurassic Park offers a version of this narrative through the character of Alan Grant (Sam Neill). Alan Grant begins the film averse to the idea of parenthood and children in general; he dismisses them as “noisy, messy, expensive [and] smelly”, and is reluctant to engage with Lex and Tim on their tour of the park. This paper will examine the evolution of Grant’s character from this taciturn, aloof version of himself to a man who comes to embrace a paternal role by the end of the film. Shunted into the role of protector after the dinosaurs breach their compounds, he turns his focus to the survival of himself and the children. The narrative of Jurassic Park is preoccupied with reversing extinction. On a literal level, this concerns the dinosaurs resurrected by John Hammond. Beyond this, it is also applicable to Grant’s rehabilitation as a paternal figure. By the 1990s, Hollywood’s action heroes were diminishing, a reflection of the industry’s own preoccupation with the presumption of masculine crisis. Fatherhood was persistently constructed, throughout the decade, as an answer to this crisis, a way of ‘saving’ men and reaffirm their worth. As such, Jurassic Park may be read as a narrative of reproductive futurism, offering a tangible future as a father to Grant, channelling his energy towards his own survival as the helicopter flies past a flock of birds, the ancestors of the dinosaurs they have left on the island below.
    • Understanding Which Fandom? Insights from Two Decades as a Music Fan Researcher

      Duffett, Mark; University of Chester (John Wiley & Sons, 2018-04-18)
      As researchers, when we study media fandom, are we all studying the same thing? If we have a shared object now, does that mean our traditional disciplines no longer matter? Twenty years ago, Clifford Geertz published an academic memoir called After the Fact. Its subtitle said, “Two Countries, Four Decades, One Anthropologist.” Geertz’s (1995) book discussed his insights from forty years as a professional scholar. At the time his memoir appeared, I embarked on a PhD exploring the cultures and meanings made by Elvis Presley fans. In the two decades since, my career has taken me to a place where I wrote a book introducing the field of fan research, called Understanding Fandom (Duffett 2013a). Following Geertz, this chapter aims to map my academic journey and offer some pointers about how fan scholarship could develop. As part of that mapping, I will be citing my own work and reactions to it.
    • Tramps Like Them: Jack and Bruce and the Myth of the American Road

      Morrison, Simon A.; University of Chester (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018-03-03)
      Abstract: ‘I try to explain to him the teddy is throwing a kink into our Kerouac On The Road cool, but Matt’s committed to his bear, so we drive on.’ Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run autobiography When Bruce Springsteen appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs at the end of 2015 he did not mention author Jack Kerouac in the list of writers he would consider for his book choice. However, his reference to Kerouac and the teddy bear in his autobiography (above) perhaps reveals stronger, if stranger connections than he imagined, with Kerouac ending the key work On The Road looking over ‘the long, long skies over New Jersey’, Springsteen’s home state, where ‘tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear?’ Unlike, then, the physical proximity of Allen Ginsberg to Bob Dylan, or the overt creative influence of Jack Kerouac on music characters such as Patti Smith and Tom Waits there is, at first glance, no obvious link between Jack Kerouac and Bruce Springsteen. This chapter, however, will explore and then uncover the links that do, in fact, exist between the two. These can broadly be defined in three ways. Firstly, there are sartorial connections in the way the two men dress and present themselves, with Springsteen adopting the jeans, T, and work-shirt look that very much defined The Beats. Secondly, there are obvious thematic links between the musical and literary work of these two icons of American popular culture: a mythologising interest in blue collar, small town America and the way it harbours past love affairs; male friendship; the open road and the freedom it suggests. Finally, there are defined stylistic links in the free-flowing lyricism that defines the words and worlds of both men. Although these three areas provide the main focus for this account other synergies may also be seen between the two: their European heritage; troubled relationship with patriotism and the American flag; family dynamics; Catholicism. More than anything, however, this chapter will explore the ways Jack Kerouac was able to make literature powerful in a new and alluring way, and similarly how Springsteen was able to engage globally, musically, in a way that could never have happened without Kerouac’s influence. Key words: Bruce Springsteen, Jack Kerouac, Beat Generation, Rock Music
    • Counting Down Elvis: His 100 Finest Songs

      Duffett, Mark; University of Chester (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018-02-01)
      Counting Down Elvis: His 100 Finest songs is a book length analysis of Elvis Presley's recorded music. It includes discussion of celebrity image, song history, prior versions, music genre, critical evaluation and occasional contextualizing cultural history (1950s to 1970s). The academic popular music historian B. Lee Cooper has reviewed the book for a peer-reviewed academic journal. This is a 'remixed' version of the manuscript in chronological rather than count down order.
    • Alas, Poor Richard: Fandom, Personal Identity and Ben Myer's Novelization of Richey Edwards' Life Story

      Duffett, Mark; Hearsum, Paula; University of Chester; University of Brighton (Cairn Info, 2017-12-13)
      In 1995 the Manic Street Preachers played their last show as a four piece before their rhythm guitarist and “minister for propaganda” Richey Edwards disappeared on the advent of a US tour. Although his body was never found, his car was discovered at the Severn bridge. It was assumed Edwards had committed suicide. In order to explore the troubled guitarist’s mysterious last days, fifteen years later in a novel called Richard the music journalist Ben Myers wrote a fictionalized first-person account of Richey’s life story. This article assesses Richard as a perceived act of literary impersonation by focusing on the way its author positioned himself as a fan and also on how fans and reviewers responded to the book. Addressing ideas such as parasocial interaction and mythologization, the piece shows that the “cult of Richey” apprehended Richard’s author as an unwelcome textual poacher. Fans challenged both Myers’ motives and the accuracy of his portrayal. We argue that rather than dismissing them as irrational, blind loyalists who cling to the false belief that they know the actual person, fans should be studied as individuals who use their accumulated knowledge to serve shared ethical concerns.
    • Fannish Identities and Scholarly Responsibilities: A Conversation

      Brooker, Will; Duffett, Mark; Hellekson, Karen; Kingston University; University of Chester (Routledge, 2017-11-01)
      Three innovative fan scholars with tremendous experience as fan scholars and as editors of fan scholarship, Will Brooker, Mark Duffett and Karen Hellekson, engage in a discussion of issues they feel are central to the methods and ethics of fan studies scholarship. In this conversation, they discuss best practices and methods for fan studies, the impact of scholars’ fannish identities on methods and ethics in fan studies, scholars’ relationships to fan objects and communities, and the responsibilities scholars should assume when studying fan communities.
    • It’s Only Teenage Wasteland: The Home Media Revival of Freaks and Geeks

      Barnett, Katie; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017-10-27)
      This chapter explores the home media revival of the short-lived US TV series Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000), examining the ways in which successful fan campaigns led to the broadcast of missing episodes and the eventual DVD release of the series in 2004. The developing cult status of Freaks and Geeks is discussed, with particular reference to the series' use of music and the ways this both contributes to the authenticity of the programme and became a barrier to its home media release.
    • Negotiating identity politics via networked communication: a case study of the Welsh-speaking population in Patagonia, Argentina

      Roberts, Simon Gwyn; University of Chester (Cambridge Scholars, 2017-09-01)
      This chapter examines the communicative and political potential of networked communication in the specific context of marginalized linguistic communities. The work concerns the remnant Welsh-speaking population in Patagonia, Argentina, descended from 19th century migrants who attempted to establish an exclusive and deliberately isolated Welsh-speaking enclave in the region. Since then, the ‘enclave’ has been absorbed into the wider Argentinian ethnic and linguistic melting pot with Welsh-speaking residents now Argentinian citizens claiming dual linguistic and cultural heritage, and therefore represents a kind of archetype for a wider journey from conflict and exclusivity to compromise, inclusivity and hybridity.
    • I Scream Therefore I Fan? Music Audiences and Affective Citizenship

      Duffett, Mark; University of Chester (New York University Press, 2017-08-28)
      Screaming has long been regarded, in the mainstream media, as the sine qua non of celebrity fandom. Pop music represents one of the obvious places where it is heard in the public sphere. Not all fans scream, but those who do are not doubted as fans since they express their position on the “knowing field” of fandom in an emotional way. As scholars, however, we rarely if ever discuss exclamations made by fans, instead focusing on their creativity, autonomy and collective intelligence. Taking popular music as its focus, what follows will develop in two sections. The first considers why screaming has been framed as a problematic activity. The second argues that fan screaming can alternatively be understood as a form of enunciative productivity, an indicator of totemic interest, and a mode of affective citizenship.
    • Fighting Putin and the Kremlin’s grip in neo-authoritarian Russia: the experience of liberal journalists

      Slavtcheva-Petkova, Vera; University of Chester (SAGE, 2017-05-16)
      Russia is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists and the conflict with Ukraine and Russia’s involvement in Syria present even further challenges for the future of Russian journalism. In addition to the financial pressures, physical attacks, abductions and harassment, liberal journalists now face an increasing threat to the democratising role they see themselves as playing. President Vladimir Putin’s soaring popularity and the elaborate range of tactics used to suppress press freedom are forcing liberal media to rethink their mission(s) and identity(ies). This paper presents empirical evidence on the range of tactics used by Russian authorities as well as the coping strategies adopted by journalists. The study shows that some Russian media and journalists demonstrate a great degree of resilience in their efforts to expose wrongdoings and hold the powerful to account. The article questions the applicability of Western-centric normative media system theories because it shows that the breadth, depth, and mechanisms of control in modern-day Russia are very different from the ones used during Soviet times, and yet, Russian media and society do not appear to be on a linear journey from authoritarianism to democracy. The article presents the findings of a semi-ethnographic study of some of Russia’s most influential liberal news outlets – Novaya Gazeta, Radio Echo of Moscow and Radio Free Europe/Liberty. The study was conducted in May 2014 in the midst of the conflict with Ukraine. It involved observations of editorial meetings, documentary analysis and interviews with editors, deputy editors and journalists.