"Despite the (implicit) nominal link to the work on what is also called 'Reception Theory', within the field of literary studies, carried out by Wolfgang Iser, Hans Jauss and other literary scholars (particular in Germany), the body of recent work on media audiences commonly referred to by this name, has on the whole, a different origin, although there are some theoretical links (cf., the work of Stanley Fish) than the work in literary theory. In practice, the term 'reception analysis', has come to be widely used as a way of characterising the wave of audience research which occurred within communications and cultural studies during the 1980s and 1990s. On the whole, this work has adopted a 'culturalist' perspective, has tended to use qualitative (and often ethnographic) methods of research and has tended to be concerned, one way or another, with exploring the active choices, uses and interpretations made of media materials, by their consumers.
As indicated in the previous discussion of 'The Media Audience', the single most important point of origin for this work, lies with the development of cultural studies in the writings of Stuart Hall at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham, England, in the early 1970s and, in particular, Hall's widely influential 'encoding/decoding' model of communications (see the discussion of 'The Media Audience' for an explanation of this model). Hall's model provided the inspiration, and much of the conceptual framework for a number of C.C.C.S' explorations of the process of media consumption, notably David Morley's widely cited study of the cultural patterning of differential interpretations of media messages among The 'Nationwide' Audience and Dorothy Hobson's work on women viewers of the soap opera Crossroads. These works were the forerunners of a blossoming of cultural studies work focusing on the media audience, throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including, among the most influential, from a feminist point of view, the work of Tania Modleski and Janice Radway on women consumers of soap opera and romance, and the work of Ien Ang, Tamar Liebes and Elihu Katz, Kim Schroder and Jostein Gripsrud on international cross cultural consumption of American drama series, such as Dallas and Dynasty.
Much of this work has been effectively summarised and popularised, especially, in the United States by John Fiske, who has drawn on the theoretical work of Michel de Certeau to develop a particular emphasis on the 'active audience', operating within what he terms the 'semiotic democracy' of postmodern pluralistic culture. Fiske's work has subsequently been the object of some critique, in which a number of authors, among them Budd, Condit, Evans, Gripsrud, and Seamann have argued that the emphasis on the openness (or 'polysemy') of the message and on the activity (and the implied 'empowerment') of the audience, within reception analysis, has been taken too far, to the extent that the original issue--of the extent of media power--has been lost sight of, as if the 'text' had been theoretically 'dissolved' into the audience's (supposedly) multiple 'readings' of (and 'resistances' to) it.
In the late 1980s, there were a number of calls to scholars to recognise a possible 'convergence' of previously disparate approaches under the general banner of 'reception analysis' (cf. in particular, Jensen and Rosengren), while Blumler et al. have claimed that the work of a scholar such as Radway is little more than a 're-invention' of the 'uses and gratifications' tradition--a claim hotly contested by Schroder. More recently, both Curran and Corner have offered substantial critiques of 'reception analysis'--the former accusing many reception analysts of ignorance of the earlier traditions of media audience research, and the latter accusing them of retreating away from important issues of macro-politics and power into inconsequential micro-ethnographies of domestic television consumption. For a reply to these criticisms, see Morley, 1992."
(David Morley, The Museum of Broadcast Communications)
"Senses of Cinema is an online journal devoted to the serious and eclectic discussion of cinema. We believe cinema is an art that can take many forms, from the industrially-produced blockbuster to the hand-crafted experimental work; we also aim to encourage awareness of the histories of such diverse forms. As an Australian-based journal, we have a special commitment to the regular, wide-ranging analysis and critique of Australian cinema, past and present.
Senses of Cinema is primarily concerned with ideas about particular films or bodies of work, but also with the regimes (ideological, economic and so forth) under which films are produced and viewed, and with the more abstract theoretical and philosophical issues raised by film study. As well, we believe that a cinephilic understanding of the moving image provides the necessary basis for a radical critique of other media and of the global 'image culture'."
(Nicola White, Senses of Cinema Inc)
"Wardrip-Fruin builds upon the foundation laid by Lev Manovich, who, in his 2002 book The Language of New Media, suggested that the natural development of media studies in an age of 'programmable media' should be 'software studies' (a set of approaches which includes 'expressive processing' but also code studies which, in Wardrip-Fruin's words, looks at 'the specific text of code' written by developers).
Expressive Processing fulfills and extends the promise of Manovich's ideas, putting the theory into practice through a set of case studies of the artificial intelligence engines of a dozen or so software programs that might be loosely called 'games.' That the first real example of a software studies approach comes out of game studies is both to be expected and (somewhat) regretted. On one hand, games of the sort Wardrip-Fruin examines are a medium for storytelling and character creation, and as such are natural extensions of the work of previous literary and media studies scholars and thereby set up a convenient space for humanities scholars and teachers to consider the important cultural and technical issues raised by Wardrip-Fruin in an environment more familiar than, for instance, an analysis of the software that drives Walmart (one of Wardrip-Fruin's suggestions for another work of software studies scholarship). Unfortunately, like graphic novels and musical theater, the genre is still too easily dismissed as popular entertainment by too many of those who most need to hear Wardrip-Fruin's arguments."
(Doug Reside, 2010)
Reside, D. (Fall 2010). "A review of Noah Wardrip-Fruin’s Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies." Digital Humanities Quarterly 4(2).
"The research team for the project was multidisciplinary, with expertise in the areas of cultural and media studies, psychology, computer science and visual arts. From the design research perspective, the multidisciplinary basis of research work has a particular advantage that could be described in terms of methodological triangulation. Basically, triangulation means approaching the issue at hand from multiple viewpoints. In our case, we have aimed to combine the humanistic and constructive approaches. The strength of classical humanistic or socio-culturally oriented media research is in generating a broad understanding of the phenomena it produces. On the other hand, it sometimes has a tendency to be so dissociated from professional practise that the insights it could provide become difficult to see. Since our approach has also involved the constructive dimension, where we actually create prototype demonstrations of new technology, it has forced us to marry these two viewpoints. Triangulation in this project meant combining top-down (heuristic media research approach) with bottom-up (empirical implementation and testing) methods.
The Songs Of North is a mobile game prototype created by the Hypermedia Laboratory at The University of Tampere, Finland. Laura Ermi and Frans Mäyrä describe the game as a "mixed reality game where the player is in contact with a spirit world that is laid over the physical environment. The spirit world is invisible and the mobile device works as a shamanic drum by which a player can interact with the spirits and also hears the sounds of that other world."
(Laura Ermi and Frans Mäyrä)