Xena and Supernatural Prompts

Xena Prompts
How does this episode interpellate the Xena viewer?

Drawing on Ross’ categories of overt, organic, and obscured invitation, how does it invite its viewer (you and/or the Xena fan) in?

How does this episode depend on teleparticipation?

How might we compare this televisual mode of participatory address (teleparticipation) to our discussions of audience address and engagement in silent cinema and in early sound cinema?

Supernatural Screening Prompts

How do these episodes imagine the viewer? The producer? The relationship between the two? The act of viewing? The act of authorship?

How do these episodes envision gender and sexuality playing a role in the act of viewing and/or producing?

How do these episodes address you as a viewer?

Is there a taboo here? If so, what’s taboo?

How is viewer emotion/investment represented? Is it encouraged or discouraged?

Do these episodes make room for/encourage alternate modes of participation? In other words, do they invite teleparticipation, and if so, how?

Screening Prompts: Singing in the Rain

Singing in the Rain Prompts
Compare this film’s representation of the movie fan/movie producer relationship to the other films with similar narratives we’ve watched in class (Movie Crazy, Prix de Beaute, even Purple Rose of Cairo). How is this relationship gendered?

How does this film imagine the movie industry and its stars? Are they accessible to fans or held apart?

How does this film represent audience savvy about film technology? [Compare the sound play with that in Movie Crazy.]

How does this film imagine the transition to sound (and the transitional cinema audience)? In so doing, what narrative is this film constructing about contemporary cinema (at the time of its release, in 1952) and the history of cinema and movie audiences?

How does this film represent and/or trade on cinema as spectacle (or audience investment in spectacle) (as compared to 42nd Street, Steamboat Bill Jr., etc.)?

Week 4 Screening Prompts

How do spectacle and narrative figure into 42nd Street?

How does 42nd Street envision the viewer/fan turned creator? How does this film depict the potential of the fan? Is the fan located in/associated with narrative progression, spectacle, or both? Is this vision of fan potential gendered?

How does this film imagine the cinematic (or, in other words, the medium of cinema)? How does it, as cinema, address its viewers?

How can we think about questions of race in 42nd Street? How do discourses and representations of blackness & whiteness manifest in the film’s narrative and/or spectacle?

Week 3 Screening Prompts

Where might we recognize the work of spectacle/attraction in this film? Does spectacle rupture narrative (as we discussed in relation to Steamboat Bill), and if so, when/how and with what impact? Is spectacle gendered in this film, and if so, how and to what effect?

How, in this film, is Louise Brooks as Lucienne simultaneously the woman who looks (and thus perhaps a stand in for the spectator/audience member) as well as the woman we look at?

[This prompt will make more sense after you’ve read the Hastie] How does Louise Brooks’ star text (and/or the Lulu persona) intersect with her performance as Lucienne? How might her persona have impacted viewers watching this movie?

Week 2 Screening Prompts: Edison & Steamboat Bill Jr.

How do the Edison shorts address and engage the audience? What type of audience do you think these shorts imagine/construct [a credulous one, or a knowing one?]

Do you see traces of the aesthetics of astonishment? The spectacle of attraction? What about the work of narrative?

Steamboat Bill Jr.: Narrative cinema is in full force, of course, by 1929, and Keaton is at the top of his game. Yet the force of
astonishment still plays a key role. Where do you see the dynamic of astonishment at work in Steamboat Bill? How does it address its audience? Is the audience envisioned to be credulous or incredulous? What are we astonished by? Where is the spectacle here, and how does it interplay with the forces of narrative?

Edison titles we’ll be screening:
1904: Nervey Nat [2 min]
1905 Coney Island [4 min]
1905 Police Chasing Scorching Auto [3 min]
1906 Dream of the Rarebit Fiend [6 min]
1906 3 American Beauties [1 min]


Welcome to the History of Audiences course blog. Here you can find all relevant info and resources for the History of Audiences senior seminar. Here also you will find the weekly prompts and a link to the general discussion board. Look around, get the lay of the land, and then leave a comment or email me with any questions at louisas@middlebury.edu.

Looking forward to meeting you all in September!

[temporary note: our e-reserve password is 3461ls — please write this down for future use.]