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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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20

Exploring Visual Aspects of Audience Membership

Media Studies and Photovoice

David R. Novak and Tonny Krijnen

ABSTRACT

Photovoice, a qualitative research methodology in which participants use photographs in combination with interviews, transcends the (false) binary between visual and verbal communication as images and words work in tandem to tell participants'stories (Novak, 2010). While audiences' reception of media has been explored thoroughly, visual interpretations as a key aspect of reception are under-researched. This neglect of visual aspects is striking, as audiences' reception often concerns media that are visual to a high degree (e.g., television, film, Internet). We use visual elements, specifically photographs and screenshots, to analyze audiences' interpretations of True Blood. Our chapter offers new ways to discuss aesthetic elements of television and the construction of latent meanings that would otherwise not appear in interviews. This chapter is a modest methodological contribution to help analyze the reception of audiences. It moves toward the inclusion of a visual aspect, via photovoice, in media studies.

While it might be obvious to state that television is a visual medium, relatively recent television shows take visuality to new levels. Take, for example, Michael Slovis, director of photography for AMC's Breaking Bad, who described his show as “real film-making, more so than even many films that you work on now” (Gajewski 2010). As media critic, Erik Kain ...

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