Watching Dallas again 1: Doing retro audience research

Amanda Gilroy

University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

[0.1] Abstract—This essay and the audience reception projects it introduces alleviate the desperation of seeking the television audience by recourse to Ien Ang's influential book, Watching Dallas ([1982] 1985). Within the context of a unit on audience research in a master's-level course on media, two groups of students explored the possibilities of remixing Ang in the present digital media landscape via informants' comments on the first season of the new series of Dallas (2012–14). Discourses of nostalgia circulate within and around the text, as well as the project itself. Retro audience research generates not only data about the affective memories and critical reflections of informants but also insights into research methods and the production of new nostalgic subjects.

[0.2] Keywords—Ien Ang; Nostalgia; TV studies

Gilroy, Amanda. 2015. "Watching Dallas Again 1: Doing Retro Audience Research." In "European Fans and European Fan Objects: Localization and Translation," edited by Anne Kustritz, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 19.

1. Introduction

[1.1] Media scholars have been desperately seeking the television audience with increasing urgency during the almost quarter of a century since Ien Ang defined the pursuit in her 1991 book. In our media-saturated culture, "the 'audience' is everywhere and nowhere" (Bird 2003, 3), frustrating attempts to find and define it. However, Ang's earlier book, Watching Dallas (1985), pushed the frontiers of audience research and offered an influential approach to TV studies. She paid attention to how audiences make aesthetic judgments and the mechanisms by which pleasure in televisual texts is aroused. While tracking the politics of pleasure became an almost mandatory activity in audience research, Ang crucially connected pleasure to "the fictional nature of the positions and solutions which the tragic structure of feeling constructs, not with their ideological content" (1985, 135). In the wake of massive attention to the sociocultural dimensions of TV viewing, Ang's work reminds us to think about the aesthetic discriminations of popular audiences. Watching Dallas, and Ang's related work, is the inspiration behind the present essay and the audience reception projects it introduces (note 1).

[1.2] The two projects were produced as practical, graded assignments within a unit on television audiences in an MA course entitled "Media Matters" that took place at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, in the fall semester of 2012–13. We had used Ang's Watching Dallas as a case study in audience research, comparing it with the work of Liebes and Katz (1986). The first season of the Dallas reboot (2012–14) was showing on Dutch TV during the course, and Ang's original research was conducted in The Netherlands. These coincidences prompted the exercise to test if Ang's study still offered usable paradigms—if and how it could be updated to engage with television audiences in 2012. What would change, and what might stay the same? And what would this tell us about TV audiences and about audience research?

[1.3] Thus, the MA students were watching a sequel (though many had not seen the original before checking it out online prior to class) and producing one in their remixing of Ang's original Dallas study. I want to validate their return to the past as a mode of what I will call strategic nostalgia. This is not nostalgia as it used to be viewed, as a romantic, reactionary pursuit that hinders theoretical development in the present, or what Emmanuel Levinas called "a retrograde return to sameness" (quoted in Casey 1987, 362). Rather, nostalgia is rehabilitated as "reflective" in its ability to motivate "creative challenges" (Boym 2007, 13). To be strategically nostalgic about past texts and research methods involves both (the construction of) affective memories and critical reflection. New modes of nostalgia offer an "interpretative space" in which past meanings are renegotiated in the present and relate to "direct social referents" (Stewart 1988, 227). It is only by virtue of resonating in the present that the past is able to produce "nostalgic subjects" (Casey 1987, 369).

[1.4] The studies that comprise this three-document series discuss viewers' reception of the new series in the context of their nostalgia for the old. While one group of researchers annotates this reception as (mainly) transhistorically restorative, the other locates reflective modalities. Taken together, they suggest the complexity of nostalgic responses among both participants and researchers. But other memory archives are also at work here. Thus, my memory of watching the original Dallas (1978–91) and of the excitement of reading Watching Dallas as an undergraduate soon after its English publication was part of the context within which the audience research was conducted, as was a certain nostalgia for the golden age of TV studies. While a residual romanticism may thus inform the whole undertaking (with the student projects to some extent enacting my own potentially restorative nostalgia for Watching Dallas), the return to Ang's methods and interests generates new meanings in the context of debates around audience studies in the era of Web 2.0. Turning back to Ang's Dallas study is a way of making visible the emotional investments and aesthetic judgments of ordinary viewers, who are perhaps somewhat unfashionable in the age of media creativity. We may have to take the risk of nostalgia in order to have any purchase on viewers who are not "produsers."

[1.5] Indeed, these projects might be seen as part of a broader turn to the past in the field of television studies. The original Dallas was the primary case study for research into cultural imperialism at a time when American visual culture saturated the globe, encouraging cross-cultural readings of American TV. Now "there are signs of a critical reassessment of 'globalization' in favour of a more 'retro' theoretical position that uses the imperialist perspective with some new insights" (Corcoran 2007, 84). In other words, if speaking of cultural imperialism seemed outdated as critics emphasized local appropriations of American products and de-emphasized power inequalities based on directions of flow, now there is a turn to historically-oriented studies that acknowledge both the complexity of viewers' cultural resources and the persistence of US domination in the global television landscape.

[1.6] The rest of this essay offers, first, a brief review of the concept of the audience and its continuing validity as a focus of research; second, a potted history of audience research, which outlines those aspects the current projects confirm, those they challenge, and those they evade or (unconsciously) reject; and third, a summary of the projects' remixing of Ang's epistolary approach and some preliminary thoughts about this project's findings.

2. Defining the (television) audience

[2.1] Who or what is the audience? In everyday discourse, the word is used so often that its complexity can be forgotten. Who gets to define the audience, and for what purposes? Ang draws a distinction between "'television audience' as a discursive construct and the social world of actual audiences," a division that continues to motivate audience studies (1991, 13). The audience as a discursive figure is an "imaginary entity" or "invisible fiction," institutionally constructed to serve the institutions of televisual production and distribution. From a Foucauldian perspective, the institutions construct and constrain the concept and practices of the audience, but also, perhaps perversely, enable activities that exceed their categorization. Actual audiences constantly appropriate what they watch to suit the specificities of their social lives. Thus, Ang problematized the notion of the audience as an objectified construct within the context of the broadcast era, challenging the views of media producers.

[2.2] In the past two decades, the notion of the television audience has moved away from the institutional perspective, where the object was to produce knowledge about the audience that enabled the reproduction of more members, to a focus on audience diversity. Critics have invested in providing thick descriptions of the contexts and practices of consumption and of the embedding of television in the intimacies of daily life.

[2.3] More recently, in the brave new world of social media and Web 2.0, definitions of the audience have become even more complex. Davis and Michelle annotate the shift in roles from "the traditional reader, listener, viewer, spectator, and citizen" to the new modes of "user, customer, player, producer, visitor, gifter, fan, friend, voyeur, learner, and participant" (2011, 559–60). The distinctions between producers and users of content have blurred, as have those between viewers and fans. If fans were previously seen as marginal figures that needed to "get a life," the work of Henry Jenkins, Matt Hills, and others has mainstreamed them. Indeed, Toby Miller, who exhorts us to "Turn Off TV Studies," claims "audiences are deemed interesting insofar as they are populist delegates for analysts' own fandom" (2005, 99). In the new terminology, consumers have been replaced by "prosumers," who in turn have morphed into "produsers." The activity, creativity, interactivity, and interconnectedness of televisual produsers are the focus of debates about new media audiences.

[2.4] New digital technologies seem to have liberated the audience while at the same time making it almost impossible to find or define it as concept or collective, or audience members as individuals. As Hight et al. argue:

[2.5] Individual and group configurations of audience, and the production of meanings that they generate, become elusive objects of study as they are overwritten by the materiality of the data trails their online activities produce. Indeed the concept of audience itself, with its connotations of receptivity, is losing stability as many audience-members take up the opportunity to insert themselves into the production environment by variously direct means of content-generation. (2011, 554)

[2.6] In this context, some critics suggest we abandon the audience altogether. Thus, Jay Rosen ([2006] 2011) introduces "the people formerly known as the audience," claiming that they "were on the receiving end of a media system that ran one way, in a broadcasting pattern…and who today are not in a situation like that at all."

[2.7] All of this has consequences for audience studies. Should we abandon audience studies along with the audience? If the audience is lost in cyberspace, how can we track its reception of specific texts? Moreover, "The moment audiences are producers and co-creators, as a 2.0 perspective suggests, they hardly need the mediating voice of research to tell them how what they are doing has meaning" (Hermes 2009, 112).

3. Old media resiliencies

[3.1] However, while the platforms that deliver our media have changed beyond recognition in the past couple of decades, the underlying media, such as print and TV, remain basically the same. The differences between digital and analog transmission and the ways in which we access television affect the "intertextual space in which a particular text is consumed" (Couldry 2011, 219), but our televisual encounters have significant continuities with older paradigms. The old screen medium of TV, however diversified its delivery through time and space, is still located in everyday life. Nick Couldry argues that "it is easy to exaggerate the irrelevance of the traditional media" and to forget the "centripetal forces that continue to drive attention to common media as the site of 'what's going on'" (2011, 215). He cites Van Dijck's rubric that only one in a hundred people is producing content, 10 are interacting via commentary, and the remaining 89 are just viewing. Technologies are not totalizing and deterministic. Viewers continue to enjoy the shared ritual of television schedules, even though video and DVD have offered escape from them for decades. Internet viewing promises endless personal freedom, but I suspect that, like me, individuals impose their own structures to mimic the rhythms of the schedule or spread the spectatorial pleasure (thus, in 2013 I watched the first season of House of Cards mostly at weekly intervals, though all 13 episodes were available at once on Netflix). This may be a generational issue; younger viewers without schedule memories may find other ways of negotiating the TV2 landscape. If watching TV is no longer a family affair, it remains communal, with groups of friends establishing ritual watching, for example, and chatting online about their experiences. New ways of sharing our thoughts and feelings about what we watch remix the collective viewing experience of the past. Old and new experiences of television overlap and inform each other.

[3.2] Rosen's ([2006] 2011) comments imply that older audiences were passive and new media ones are active. But audiences have always been both active and passive. Individuals might be casual viewers of one program and invested fans of another. There remains much to be said about the complexity of passivity. Crucially, Wood and Taylor (2008) argue that old questions of meaning should not be submerged by new media concerns with connectivity, and that indeed these may not be separate sets of questions. They suggest that we will lose sight of the contextual intimacy and textual specificity of television viewing if we regard it as merely a part of media convergence. As television scholars have observed, the pressure of new media theory should not mean that we have to reinvent the wheel of audience research (Wood and Taylor 2008; Press and Livingstone 2008). "Old media resiliencies" (Freedman 2006) validate the present projects' concepts of the audience and recourse to research paradigms derived from the mass media era.

4. Qualitative audience studies: Back to the text

[4.1] Many recent texts offer surveys of audience studies and audience research, mapping the field with different inflections and emphases. As Davis and Michelle (2011) note, every methodology textbook perpetuates a basic division between qualitative and quantitative research. I will bracket here any consideration of the latter, despite recent calls to embrace what has been seen as the poor relation within cultural studies (Deacon and Keightley 2011), given that the projects I am introducing are firmly located within the former school. Within qualitative studies, Schrøder et al. (2003) identify two main traditions. These are, first, an ethnographic tradition that focuses on the embeddedness of media use in the social fabric of everyday life. Second is a reception studies tradition in which the emphasis is on the acts of decoding taken by specific audiences in their encounter with specific texts. The first mode focuses on the media as object and the second on the media as text.

[4.2] Of course, there is overlap between these approaches, especially if we look back to pioneers in the field. Morley's and Ang's work, for example, is indebted to Stuart Hall's (1980) interpretation paradigm of encoding/decoding but attends to what actual audiences do with television texts and the politics of domestic consumption. In The Audience in Everyday Life (2003), Bird uses a series of ethnographic studies to analyze how people live in a media-saturated world. She argues that media reception cannot be understood only in relation to specific texts. However, her articulation of a moral and emotional popular aesthetic depends on responses to specific TV series like Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993–98). Thus, a "double articulation" comprehends both technological/sociological and textual/symbolic analyses. As Press and Livingstone note, the audience is also "doubly articulated—as the consumer/viewer" (2008, 7).

[4.3] However, in practice, it has proved difficult to combine the two modes in audience research. Though there is no shortage of text-based analyses of contemporary television (as work on The Wire [2002–8], makeover shows, and two collections on Mad Men [2007–15] indicate), Web 2.0 media exchange has helped to engender a shift away from textual analysis in audience studies. As Gauntlett argues, "'Media Studies 2.0'…emphasises a sociological focus on the media as it is in the world, and as people experience it—and therefore is…associated with a welcome end to the armchair ramblings of 'textual analysis'" (2009, 149).

[4.4] Even within the (older) ethnographic turn in audience studies, participant observation (or, more recently, participant co-creation) has come to be the privileged methodology. Researchers are granted "close-ups" (Hermes 2009, 123) as a result of layered relationships built up over long periods of time. For example, Antonio C. La Pastina (2005) advocates a "media engagement approach" that involved work in rural communities in Brazil for a decade, including a year in Macambira talking to inhabitants about the telenovela O Rei do Gado (1996–97). Joke Hermes and her research group at InHolland University have been working on a telenovela project with a young Moroccan Web community in The Netherlands since 2006, including assisting with funding proposals. The aura surrounding this mode means that only projects that live up to a rigorous set of criteria are admitted to its pantheon. Thus, Hermes writes that "Marie Gillespie's work in east London on television, ethnicity and social change…is one of the few true…examples" of audience ethnography (2009, 117; my emphasis). There has been criticism of informant invisibility in text-based studies such as Ang's and Bird's, which are seen to lack "the contextualization necessary for genuine ethnographic work" (Press and Livingstone 2008, 9; my emphasis).

[4.5] As the adjectival qualifiers in my examples suggest, the discourse potentially excludes much audience reception work. As I have already noted, there are new problems with traditional ethnographic participation in an age when audiences are geographically dispersed and communicate online. Moreover, while the multidimensional approach of participant observation provides insights into the whole social ecology within which audiences function, individual media and specific media texts fade into the background. Unlike Gauntlett (2009), I suggest that affective attachments to popular culture are visible through audience investment in TV aesthetics, revealed through semiotic analyses ("armchair ramblings") by audiences and researchers. Despite the complexity of the current media landscape, case studies, "reframe[d] and recontextualize[d] in a new way" (Morley 1999, 196), offer access to "the cultural politics of what audiences feel about the representational capacity of television" (Wood and Taylor 2008, 148).

5. Self-reflexive research

[5.1] An important development in television ethnography, and one that affected our project, is an element of reflexivity, which asks both researcher and audience to reflect on their respective positions. For example, Ellen Seiter, in her research on soap operas, notes the continuing "defensiveness that men and women unprotected by academic credentials may feel in admitting to television viewing in part because of its connotations of feminine passivity, laziness and vulgarity" (2000, 496). Research participants may feel intimidated by the researcher's perceived status. Moreover, despite the mainstreaming of fandom and the rise of the scholar-fan, it is perhaps easier for the likes of Henry Jenkins and Jason Mittell to publically celebrate their TV habits as acafans than for nonacademics. In self-reflexive mode, ethnographers note how their presence affects (or constructs) the responses they document. Kirstyn Gorton was interested in how people "'orient' themselves towards the screen" by dimming the lights or snuggling up in a blanket, but she abandoned her attempt to replicate David Morley's work in Family Television (1986), realizing that "it was impossible to 'sit in' on the emotional moments people experience when watching television." The presence of the interviewer, if only to record and observe, disrupted the "feeling of intimacy" (2009, 144).

[5.2] Carolyn Ellis (2004) validates autoethnography as a way of acknowledging the researcher's participation and role. Though she is not focused on television, her "methodological novel" offers a useful "Chart of Impressionist and Realist Ethnography," setting up a series of terms under the headings "Art" and "Science" with double-ended arrows that express resistance to the binary mode even as the headings encode it. Thus we find stories/theory; dialogue/monologue; co-constructed/received; creative interpretation/systematization; and hunger for concrete details/appetite for abstraction. The personal voice stands at the other end of the spectrum to the institutional voice. Methodologies and forms have different emphases in each paradigm, with autoethnography and interactive interviewing on the one side matched by formal interviewing and questionnaires on the other. Results are expressed in fiction, photography, performances, and museum installations or in grounded theory and analytic essays (Ellis 2004, 359–63). In retrospect, it is clear to me that I privileged the "Art" side of this (incomplete) list. The student researchers, however, retained, what seemed to me at the time, a residual attraction to scientific objectivity, especially in terms of the perceived institutional hegemony of the academic essay. Likewise, my own disciplinary heritage in English obviously factored into my sense of quantitative research as a mode of objectification and my reluctance to advocate its use.

6. The projects in practice

[6.1] Before embarking on the assignment, the researchers themselves were asked to respond to the TV series by e-mail, and the responses were posted on our course site. Before the next class, I produced a brief analysis of their comments, articulating the repertoires used to make the TV text meaningful and the discourses generated by their remarks. I noted a range of cultural competences related to TV knowledge (intertextuality; the aesthetics of the soap opera; genre classification) and some key discourses, which I defined as follows: The Past (this was both textual and generational, with six respondents writing about the original series, and two referring to their mothers); Feminist Identifications (with key characters); and the Contradictions of Pleasure (which I related to the legacy of the devaluation of mass culture). The point here was not, as in Morley's Nationwide study (1980), to decide on the program's messages and then read the audience's decodings in terms of their repetition of or deviance from the expert decoding. Rather it was to frame the subsequent research in terms of the diversity of interpretations and meanings, and to foreground the researchers' investments, and disinvestments, from the beginning.

[6.2] Where Morley's (1980) project essentializes a preferred reading (in Hall's [1980] terminology), an objective model that Morley himself later challenged, Ang starts with a sense of affiliation with her informants and an openness to what loving or hating Dallas meant to them. Thus the audience research precedes, and preconditions, any reconstruction of the ideological work the text performs. Nevertheless, it is perhaps impossible to wholly avoid preferred readings if we conceive of these more broadly than simply production encoding. Because the whole point of the exercise was to remix Ang, her findings about the original series had a privileged status. The researchers were primed to look for ironic readings as well as melodrama and emotional realism, though the two groups come to opposing conclusions about contemporary irony (the issue that dominated discussion of the TV landscape). And, because Dallas is a sequel, discourses of nostalgia circulated within and around the text (in reviews, online discussions, and marketing). My own decoding of the researchers' responses (potentially) produced a secondary encoding that similarly focused on the persistence of the past.

[6.3] The research groups stayed close to Ang's original question, as posted in a Dutch woman's magazine, to which she received letters from Dallas viewers. But they used social media sites to access the audience. They did not deploy qualitative software programs, such as NVivo, to classify their findings, which I think helped to focus their attention on the specificity of responses. They posed as insiders to solicit more participation. This provoked some initial class discussion about ethics, but most were comfortable with the notion of performance as part of postmodern identity. They recognized, too, that doing reception research produces involvement with both text and audience and gained insight into the investments of ethnography (and television viewing). As Liebes and Katz (1986) note in their work on the original Dallas, critical or aesthetic decoding can signify involvement as much as distance.

[6.4] Rearticulating Ang's question, the studies asked for online, written responses. This is contrary to recent audience research that has advocated enabling more interpretative space for participants. Gauntlett's (2009) suggestions for creative and visual research methods are designed to promote participation and reflection (see his projects at Multimodal work (interviews, blogging, video making, visual mapping, biography) offers dynamic possibilities (as in McDougall's 2010 research on audiences of The Wire) and focuses attention on the varied results when different groups are asked to do different things. However, I remain wary about othering more traditional ways of talking about television. On the other hand, genre bending could be a more significant element in the presentation of the results, leading to experimentation with formats other than the academic essay. (One group in the subsequent year's class used Facebook both to collect and present their research on Orange Is the New Black [2013–].)

[6.5] Participants were clearly informed and consented to the use of their responses in the research projects. However, working in The Netherlands, our protocols did not require approval by an external ethics board, unlike most such studies conducted in the United States. This issue remained peripheral to our field of vision until brought to our attention by the journal editors. Thus, somewhat belatedly, all screen names were replaced by pseudonyms to protect the privacy of the participants. For us, this was a salutary lesson in the practicalities of cross-cultural scholarship, not least in light of the concern with national and transnational spectatorship in the essays themselves.

7. Conclusions

[7.1] This reception research generated more than details about audience responses to watching Dallas. Remixing Ang produced insights about methods and procedures, something that did not preoccupy Ang in her original project (contrary to Liebes and Katz [1986], for whom the fine-tuning of the method was crucial) (note 2). Perhaps the most interesting aspect of recoding Ang's epistolary approach was the dialogic interaction of researchers and research subjects, which complemented the structural dialogue with Ang's texts. The online medium made it easier, even mandatory, to respond to participants' comments and generate an ongoing conversation, which both research groups recognized as an integral feature of their methodology. In some ways, though, the current projects not only update Ang but also unlock the potential of her original form. That is, though Ang did not correspond with her letter writers, epistolary histories emphasize the production of networked identities (Gilroy and Verhoeven 2000). In any case, feedback was not something we had thought through in advance, but it turned out to offer valuable textual and theoretical insights. While the researchers retained their role as cultural translators, this identity position became more flexible and mobile as researchers and participants interacted to produce knowledge.

[7.2] The projects address the relative rarity of team work in media ethnography (Bird 2003). Despite some operational issues, particularly in a context where the students received a collective rather than an individual grade, the projects demonstrate that Pierre Lévy's ([1994] 1999) collective intelligence model can be usefully imported into audience studies. Working through disagreements and drawing on a wide range of collective cultural competences, the researchers acknowledged, at least intermittently, that they were "smarter as knowledge communities than as individuals" (Hermes 2009, 124) (note 3).

[7.3] It is worth noting that the material in "Watching Dallas Again 3" is translated from Dutch to English. The research group was required to operate bilingually, discussing material in English in class and by e-mail with me, putting this into Dutch to correspond with their informants, then translating their own and their respondents' material from Dutch to English. Finally, Raquel Raj, a native English speaker and nonnative Dutch speaker, worked on the translations to improve comprehensibility while retaining a strong sense of the original voices. Thus, the researchers repeated in condensed form the trajectory of Ang's original work, first published in Dutch in 1982 and then in revised form in English in 1985. In class discussions of Ang's second text, we found some oddities in the English, notably in the informant translations (the series is often referred to as a "film"; the Ewings are described as "that 'immense' family," and a viewer writes that she "lap[s] it up" [Ang 1985, 57, 100]), which made us speculate that perhaps Ang had revised and translated her own text while Della Couling did so for the respondents' texts. Subsequently, though this is not articulated in the essay itself, there was a high level of self-consciousness about the responsibilities of translation, and it added a substantial extra burden to the decoding enterprise. The whole process speaks to the underarticulated role of translation in audience studies.

[7.4] This exercise demonstrates that it is both possible and productive to adhere to the principles of Ang's pioneering study even in this postbroadcast, or post-TV, mediasphere. The research offers interesting stories about a particular moment of audience reception. At precisely the moment that Jason Mittell (2012–13) was codifying "complex TV" (also a course text), these stories point to the complexity of responses to seemingly noncomplex TV. Discourses of nostalgia, irony, and genre modulate the televisual literacy of the projects' informants. Eschewing a sociological framework and a focus on everyday life, the researchers attended to the aesthetic issues that preoccupied Ang, along with a new focus on the TV landscape.

[7.5] Perhaps most significantly, however, the research process itself generated new insights and reshaped (some of) the researchers in unexpected ways. In the process, new television audiences and audience pleasures were created that do not so much repeat the past as connect it with the present. In this context, I want to end with part of an e-mail from one of the researchers, Raquel Raj, who writes that the project

[7.6] forced me to reconsider my views on reality TV and soaps. Soaps were definitely at the bottom of my list, with reality TV right behind. After our project, I started watching Days of Our Lives—in part because I remembered watching it occasionally with my mom and grandma during mid-day breaks in the heat of summer vacation, but also because Mittell…said so little about soaps in his book…After reading the responses to our Dallas questions and realizing that people enjoyed watching—I mean really enjoyed!—a show I had to Clockwork Orange my eyes open to watch, I felt really enthusiastic about finding new vistas of viewing enjoyment and/or reexamining the old. All these months later, I'm still watching Days and loving that old character decisions from 25 years ago come back to haunt those characters in the present. It's impressive that the writers are so invested in going back to the old scripts and episodes and showing how history repeats itself. (May 21, 2013)

[7.7] Raj demonstrates the value of feeling sentimental about television and audiences. This is not the time to defriend but to remix the old paradigms of the new audience research, and in so doing produce new nostalgic subjects.

8. Acknowledgments

[8.1] I would like to thank Anne Kustritz and Emma England for their thoughtful comments on earlier versions of the students' essays. Special thanks are due to Raquel Raj and Mabel Wale, who undertook the mammoth task of revising the original essays for publication.

9. Notes

1. While completing this piece, I came across Bevin Yeatman's 2011 essay on audiences, which, like the present project, is inspired by Ang's insights. However, Yeatman argues that her work was "significant for a particular time and medium but things have changed" (644).

2. In the context of the present project, the European COST action "Transforming Audiences" argues that we should remember the historical legacies of particular research methods. However, the work they have produced so far is arguably part of the text-aversion school, focusing mostly on densely theorized methodological issues. See the special section on "Multi-method Audience Research" (2012) in Participations 9 (2).

3. What was also revealed, however, was the difficulty of sustaining team work, especially in a pedagogic context, over a longer period. The course finished in January 2013, after which some students embarked on internships or study abroad, while others starting writing their dissertations. In practice, this meant that the burden of revision fell to a couple of students.

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