Media, Education and Entertainment
There are three connected themes:
Central debates about the
nature of children's film, television, and video games, and about possible
effects of those media upon children's values, attitudes, and cognitive
These issues also raise interesting
implications for the study of mass media more generally, so you should
find links with other modules (e.g. in the debates about the audience,
or in discussions about the sources of pleasure or involvement in viewing/playing).
Children's media products are often
and innovative and can be seen as case-studies for wider debates about
the nature of cultural changes in our (postmodern?) society -- e.g. are
we witnessing the 'end of narrative' in children's video games?
Our aim is to involve you in some
of those debates both by reviewing some of the literature, and by getting
you to try out your own analyses of actual examples of films, TV programmes
or video games, based on your viewing and playing experiences.
We would like to acknowledge the
invaluable assistance of Andy Harris and Michael Thomas
Block 1 Changing conceptions
Weeks 1 and 2 Introducing the
The lectures discuss and illustrate
changes in the material made for children (film and TV) over the last thirty
years. TV programmes will include extracts from Watch With Mother, Camberwick
Green, Teletubbies and Reactive.
Workshops introduce some initial
Block 2 'Educational'
how might we describe any changes we
perceive in material from different periods?
what assumptions are being made about
the audience and notions of childhood in these pieces at different times?
what are students' initial thoughts
about any moral, cognitive, 'educational' or 'anti-social' effects of these
what pleasures are to be found in these
pieces, and do they vary over time?
Week 3 Schools television
The lecture discusses some examples
(e.g. Fourways Farm) and explores the use of electronic media in
making education entertaining and involving.
Workshops focus on intentions and
pedagogic strategies. Students will select some examples of schools broadcasting
and analyse them:
Week 4 'Informal' educational material
which educational objectives are being
pursued (and which media conventions)?
how might the effectiveness of these
pieces be assessed?
are different audience 'readings' likely
to produce ineffectiveness?
The lecture revises the notion of
'ideology' in Media Studies and how media might carry ideological messages
(e.g. via representations or narratives). The debate turns specifically
on ways to read Blue Peter.
Workshops try out Fergusson's reading
of BP, and students apply this reading critically to more recent
examples of their own choosing:
Week 5 Sesame Street
The lecture discusses this famous
series and its pedagogy. We review the background in Head Start programmes,
and consider some of the debates about evaluation in Bates or Greenfield.
Workshops continue to pursue 'ideological'
readings via Ellsworth or Mattelart, focusing on the 'commercialism' debate.
Block 3 'Postmodern'
Week 6 Children's TV and 'transmedia
This lecture introduces and contexts
the work of Kinder on children's TV and the 'interpellation of the postmodern
self'. We'll ground this high-powered stuff in a deep reading of Muppet
Babies or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Workshops invite students to pursue
Kinder readings of Garfield and Friends and try them out on British
Saturday morning children's TV.
7 READING WEEK
Week 8 Imported animations, spin-offs
This lecture continues the discussion
based on Kinder and others, and we shall view some animation pieces especially
(including some Anime).
Workshops focus on the 'look' of
this material, pursuing the issue of their generic conventions -- have
the barriers dissolved between, say, martial arts movies and sci-fi in
Power Rangers, or between the Gothic and the futuristic in Thundercats?
Week 9 Video games, authorship
and floating signifiers
The lecture reviews aspects of the
debate about the 'good' and 'bad' sides of video games, especially via
their cultural significance, and offers a reading guide to some of the
pieces in the booklet.
Workshops draw upon students' experiences
as games players to explore feelings of, involvement, 'addiction' and control
in video games, comparing, say, Lemmings (Tribes) with Mortal
Week 10 Review: readings and audience
This lecture looks back over some
of the issues raised by the different readings, considers the debates about
'media literacy' in Greenfield and Buckingham, and begins to consider the
possible role of empirical research on the audience to decide between them.
Workshops revise some Level 1 work
via Glover, and begin to debate strategies for audience research
Block 4 Audience research
Week 11 Researching the audience
1: psychological experimental designs
The lecture outlines the basic principles
after a recap on measurement debates in Sesame Street. Reading:
Anderson's and Ford's classic
Week 12 Researching the audience
2: cultural analysis
The lecture pursues some more classic
Media Studies analyses (eg.'semiotic' approaches' or ethnographic studies
of the audience) and considers their application to this field (e.g. via
Workshops consider Buckingham's piece,
and end on a suitably open and sceptical note.
What follows is an indicative list
only. There are some useful journals which are worth consulting on a regular
basis: British Journal of Educational Technology, Open Learning,
of Educational Television, Screen (e.g. vol. 27 special on pedagogy).
Alvarado M 'Television Studies and
Pedagogy' in Screen Education 38
Anderson C and Ford C 'Affect of
the Game Player...' Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 12,
4, 390-402 (1987)
Ang I Living Room Wars
Aries P Centuries of Childhood
Bates A Broadcasting in education
- an evaluation
Berger A Media Research Techniques
Boyd-Barrett O and Braham P (eds)
Power and Knowledge
Brown C and Giroux J 'Arcade Video
Games...' Journal of Leisure Research, 21,2, 92-105 (1989)
Buckingham D Children and Television:
an overview of the research BFI Publishing (1987)
Buckingham D 'What Are Words Worth?…'
Studies 5, 2, 228-45 (1991)
Buckingham D (ed) Watching Media
Buckingham D Children Talking
Buckingham D Moving Images
Cooper J and Mackie D 'Video Games
and Aggression in Children' Journal of Applied Social Psychology
16, 8, 726-44 (1986)
Curran J and Porter V British
Drummond P and Paterson (eds) Television
in Transition (Mattelart's chapter)
Eco U 'Can Television Teach?' in
Ellsworth E 'Educational Media,
Ideology and the Presentation of Knowledge...' in Giroux H and Simon R
(eds) Popular Schooling and Everyday Life
Field A Picture Palace: a social
history of the cinema
Fiske J Reading the Popular...
Gailey C 'Mediated Messages...'
of Popular Culture 27, 1, 83 --97
Gray A Video Playtime: the gendering
of a leisure technology
Greenfield P Mind and Media...
(esp. Ch 9)
Haddon L 'Electronic and Computer
Games' Screen, 29, 2 52-73 (1988)
Kael P Kiss, Kiss, Bang Bang...
Kinder M Playing With Power in
Movies, TV and Video Games.. (esp. ch. 1)
Kline S 'The Play of the Market...'
Culture and Society 12, 103-29 (1995)
Lusted G and Drummond P Television
Parisi P '"Black Bart" Simpson...'
of Popular Culture 18, 111-25 (1993)
Price J 'Social Science Research
on Video Games' Journal of Popular Culture 18, 111-25 (1985)
Richards J The Age of the Dream
Robertson J The Hidden Cinema.
British Censorship in Action
Selnow G 'The Fall and Rise of Video
Games' Journal of Popular Culture 21, 53-60 (1987)
Strinati R and Wagg S Come on
Down?… (esp. Wagg's ch.)
Winkel M, Novak D and Hopson H 'Personality
Factors, Subject Genders and the Effects of Aggressive Video Games...'
of Research in Personality, 21, 211--23
In what ways has children's television
changed over the last few decades? Are there any ways in which it has not
'Education should involve the learner'.
How has this idea been implemented in educational television? What are
the disadvantages of making education 'involving' ?
In what senses might children's television
be seen as 'ideological'? Discuss with reference to EITHER Blue Peter OR
Summarise the recent controversy
over Teletubbies. What could Media Studies students add to the discussion?
To what extent are children likely
to be able to supply 'active readings' of their own for the television
programmes they watch?
What provides pleasure for the electronic
games player? Discuss with particular reference to Fiske's account.
To what extent can audience reactions
to electronic material actually be measured? Discuss with reference to
any ONE attempt to measure reactions.
Critically discuss Kinder's attempt
to identify harmful consequences of 'postmodern' television and video games.