Making Sense of Cinema: Empirical Studies into Film Spectators and Spectatorship


Hello! I know it’s been a while since I’ve updated this ol’ blog of mine (outside of the call for chapters I posted last week, anyway), but in my defense I’ve been busy with some other projects. In addition to working on the Pop Culture Lens podcast, I’ve been plugging away on some book projects with my partner, CarrieLynn D. Reinhard. While I can’t really talk about one of those projects at this time (but I can hint that it does relate to this post), the other one will be released soon, and therefore I wanted to get the word out about it well in advance.

Edited by CarrieLynn and myself, Bloomsbury Academic will release Making Sense of Cinema: Empirical Studies into Film Spectators and Spectatorship on Feb 25, 2016 and you can pre-order your copy now directly from the publisher or from your favorite online retailer (such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more).

2016-01-14 16.18.41The collection features essays by Martin Barker, Alexander Geimer, Darren Waldron, Annie Dell’Aria, Jessica Hughes, and many more (for a complete list of contributors and chapter titles, check out the publisher’s website).

Here is the description from the publisher’s website:

There are a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to researching how film spectators make sense of film texts, from the film text itself, the psychological traits and sociocultural group memberships of the viewer, or even the location and surroundings of the viewer. However, we can only understand the agency of film spectators in situations of film spectatorship by studying actual spectators’ interactions with specific film texts in specific contexts of engagement.

Making Sense of Cinema: Empirical Studies into Film Spectators and Spectatorship uses a number of empirical approaches (ethnography, focus groups, interviews, historical, qualitative experiment and physiological experiment) to consider how the film spectator makes sense of the text itself or the ways in which the text fits into his or her everyday life. With case studies ranging from preoccupations of queer and ageing men in Spanish and French cinema and comparative eye-tracking studies based on the two completely different soundscapes of Monsters Inc. and Saving Private Ryan to cult fanbase of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and attachment theory to its fictional characters, Making Sense of Cinema aligns this subset of film studies with the larger fields of media reception studies, allowing for dialogue with the broader audience and reception studies field.

And here are some advance reviews of the book.

David N. Coury, Professor of Humanistic Studies and Global Studies, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, USA, says:

“An important contribution to film spectatorship studies. What is unique about this collection is the focus on empirical analysis to analyze how actual (as opposed to implied) spectators construct meaning from their viewing experience. The essays included here employ a variety of methodologies and cover a broad array of genres and geographical areas, both past and present. A fascinating work of scholarship of interest to anyone seeking to understand better the global spectator’s viewing experience.”

Meanwhile, Ed Tan, Professor of Media Psychology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands writes:

“Reading Making Sense of Cinema I was totally baffled to see the film spectator arise brightly, high-res and three-dimensional, from the dark, cross-lit by manifold complementary color spots cast by specialists in disciplines as diverse as linguistics, acoustics, art history, cultural studies, cultural analysis, audience research, communication research, cinematography, critical (genre) studies, visual perception, neuroinformatics, cognitive film studies, and screen writing. And all it seemed to take is a shared conviction that direct observation makes for the brighter picture.”

CarrieLynn and I are extremely proud of this book (not to mention humbled by these gushing reviews), and we believe it represents an important contribution to the area of film studies, primarily because it consolidates a variety of empirical approaches into one volume that functions as a sort of methodological toolbox. We hope you agree.

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