Author Archives: Mafalda Stasi

M84MC (2012-13) Lecture Seven: Communication as Performance- part 2

This is the second of two lectures dedicated to the performative dimension of celebrity communication strategies. This lecture considers identity in its discursive and performative aspects. Celebrity identity is often predicated on notions of gender and sexuality, which are discussed here together with the notion of camp.

Lecture slides:  M84MC.07  14 Nov 2012

Homework – due 21 Nov 2012

1. Assignment one

As a group, start outlining the structure of your final presentation. Ask yourselves:

What are the most important things you want to say?

What type of argument are you putting forth?

What are you basing the argument on?

How can you support it?

What possible objections to your points can you envision?


3. Readings

Diamond, L. (2005) “ ‘I’m Straight, but I Kissed a Girl’: The Trouble with American Media Representations of Female–Female Sexuality” Feminism & Psychology 15 (104-110) – Diamond.2005.Kiss.Girl

Richardson, N. (2006) “As Kamp as Bree: The Politics of Camp Reconsidered By Desperate Housewives” Feminist Media Studies 6: 2 (57-174) – Richardson.2006.Kamp Bree

Horn, K. (2010) “Camping with the Stars: Queer Perfomativity, Pop Intertextuality, and Camp in the Pop Art of Lady Gaga”

M84MC (2012-13) Lecture Six: Communication as Performance- part 1

This is the first of two lectures dedicated to the performative dimension of celebrity communication strategies. The lecture focuses on issues of media productions. The theoretical approaches informing current professional practices are compared with more historical analyses of mass media production, notably Debord’s notion of spectacle. The question asked is, how much of Debord’s theories we can use today, given the entirely different context of production of the media and communication industry?

Lecture slides:  M84MC.06 7 Nov 2012

Homework – due 14 Nov 2012

1. Assignment one
Pick 3 examples of Debordian spectacle. What are their intended functions? How can we read them? How do can we use them? How can detournement work?
2. Assignment two
By now, each group should have picked the celebrities you want to compare, and which specific aspects of their strategies you want to examine. Now you need to decide which approaches and tools you want to invoke to help with your  comparison. As a group, go over the materials and approaches we discussed so far, and weigh their pros and cons. Write your conclusions on the blog. E.g. “We think that adopting perspective X will help us highlight characteristic A of our celebrities. However, perpective X is not taking into account this or that factor…”  

3. Readings

Turner, G. (2004) Understanding Celebrity. Ch.2 “Production” Turner.2004.Celebrity-Production

M84MC (2012-13) Lecture Five: Communication as Ritual- part 2

This is the second of the two lectures dedicated to analysing the ritual aspects of the communication strategies implemented by celebrities such as Madonna and Lady Gaga.  The lecture focuses on socio-anthropological aspects of modern celebrity myths, and explores notions of “authenticity”.

Lecture slides:  M84MC.05– 31 Oct 2012

Homework – due 7 Nov 2012

1. Assignment one
Read carefully the excerpts from a blog discussing Lady Gaga’s “authenticity” and “fakery” (in the lecture slides). In pairs, relate the excerpts to the concepts of authenticity, image management, being yourself, performance. Post your reflections on the blog.
2. Assignment two
Referring to the materials covered in the module so far, list three points or concepts you understood, and explain them in your own words. Then, list three things you didn’t understand. Be as specific as possible. Post your reflections on the blog.

3. Readings

Woolf, J. (2007) “Not the girl but the legend: mythology, photography and the posthumous cult of Diana” Woolf.2006.Mythology.Diana

M84MC (2012-13) Lecture Four: Communication as Ritual- part 1

This is one of the two lectures dedicated to analysing the ritual aspects of the communication strategies implemented by celebrities such as Madonna and Lady Gaga.  The lecture considers the ways in which social interactions are formalised and regulated. It also examines the ways in which such interactions can be disrupted or subverted, and how habits and conventions of taste influence and regulate mechanisms of social class.

Lecture slides: M84MC.04 – 24 Oct 2012

Homework – due 31 Oct 2012

Organise yourselves in groups of 4 to 5 people.  Meet at least once to brainstorm your final assignment one, which will count for 50% of your total mark. (As a reminder, assignment one requests that you, as a group, choose two celebrities, and thay you compare and contrast their communication strategies.)


Tyler, I. and B. Bennett (2010) “Celebrity Chav: Fame, Femininity and Social Class” European Journal of Cultural Studies 13 Tyler and Bennet.2010.celebritychav

M84MC (2012-13) Lecture Three: Communication as Structure – part 2

This is the second of the two lectures dedicated to analysing  applied communication from a  structural perspective. The lecture considers how the history and practice of advertising can be applied to the analysis of the image constructed by Madonna and Lady Gaga. The lecture also examines the mechanisms of branding and product placement, and its associated moral panics.

Lecture slides: M84MC.03– 17 Oct 2012

Homework – due 24 Oct 2012

Think of your  favourite ad. How do you position yourself vis-à-vis it? Do you like because it is convincing? Do you like it despite what it’s trying to say, or how it’s saying it? How easily persuaded are you?  Post your work as a comment to this blog entry.

Lovely work you all–well done!

It is apparent from the range of your analyses that we all have complex reactions to advertising, which go well beyond the simplistic Pavlovian approach some theorists used to propugnate.


Choi and Rifon.2007.Celebrity Advertising-excerpts

M84MC (2012-13) Lecture Two: Communication as Structure – part 1

This is the first of the two lectures dedicated to analysing  applied communication from a  structural perspective. The lecture uses techniques drawn from visual analysis, semiotics and narrative theory to explore music videos, interviews and discussions of Madonna and Lady Gaga’s marketing and branding strategies.

M84MC.02– 10 Oct 2012

Homework – due 17 Oct 2012

Individually, pick either Lady Gaga or Madonna, and find three of her interviews from different media (audio, video, in print). Apply a narrative analysis: what narratives are present? What is told, what is not? What formal techniques are used? What personas does she build? How she constructs and represent her “authentic” self? Post your work as a comment to this blog entry.


COMMENTS TO STUDENTS’ ASSIGNMENT: Lecture 2-comments to assignment

M84MC (2012-13) Lecture One: Introduction

This lecture provides an overview of the module; it outlines its content and its goals, and it gives a quick preview of the key thematic blocks constituting the syllabus. The presentation also outlines the final assignment, and it includes logistic information and other resources.

M84MC.01 – 3 Oct 2012

M84MC.01-homework– due 10 Oct 2012

Students can use the comment function to ask questions or–when asked to do so–post their homework.

180MC – The game is on: play and leisure in the digital world

Lecture Slides:

Project Brief:


Chun, W. (2006). Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Goggin, J. (2011) “Playbour, farming and labour.” Ephemera: Theory and Politics in Organization  11(4): 357-368.

Kücklich, J. (2005) “Precarious Playbour: Modders and the Digital Games Industry”  Fibreculture 5

Terranova, T. (2000) “Free Labor: Producing Culture for the Digital Economy.” Social Text 63,  vol. 18 no.2, pp. 33-58.

180MC – Fans, prosumers, activists

Today’s lecture discusses how participatory audiences engage with texts in a specific fashion and under specific conditions of cultural production. We can call these audiences prosumers in terms of their practices, or fans in terms of their affective engagement. They constitute alternative interpretive and social communities, and their desire to influence textual production makes them poach and create transformative works. Their work can be understood within a gift economy framework, and it needs reading in the context of current copyright legislation.

Lecture slides

Project brief:

As a group, choose a specific fan community, and analyse their cultural practices of textual production and circulation in the digital world. What type of transformative work they engage in? What is its cultural context? How can you understand their culture and work? You should apply the concepts discussed today to understand the ideological, legal and economic factors shaping the cultural practices you are analysing. Make sure you:

  • do not confuse a genuine grassroots prosumer community with a corporate initiative.
  • focus on the community, the practices and the culture, not on the platform hosting them.
You have 10 minutes to present your findings.


Jenkins, H. (2006), Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture(Chapter one) NY: NYUP. pp. 1-36.

Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture (Introduction). NY: NYUP. pp.1-24

Lyman, P. et al. (2009) Hanging Out, Messing Around, And Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning With New MediaCambridge: MIT press.

Murray, S. (2004) “‘Celebrating the story the way it is’: cultural studies, corporate media and the contested utility of fandom” Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 18 (1): 7-25

205MC – Transmediality

Moving across different media influences the way we construct discourse and culture. The introduction of new (media) technologies creates extensions of what we can do and conceive, but it also precludes or amputates some of the ways of being and thinking with which we used to be conversant. We look forward to new media but we also look back nostalgically to old ones, which we recreate and reconfigure in the new context.

When we spread intertextual webs across different media, we create a transmedia narrative. Texts are distributed across media platforms and channels; each text can be read autonomousy, but none of them has the full narrative picture. In order to get all the meanings, we need to move across all the different media involved.

Essential Readings

Other Resources


205MC – Intertextuality

Intertextuality is a pervasive and inescapable textual characteristic. Famously discussed by Roland Barthes, intertextuality is the idea that Individual texts always refer to each other; and the web of interlinked references, similarities, echoes, constitute what we call intertext. However, intertextuality paradoxically makes apparent that meaning is not only in the text. Barthes makes this point when he talks about the relationship of connotative vs. denotative meanings. Intertextuality is ideological, and when we look at intertexts, we cannot ignore their social, cultural and political context. An intertext is not just a semiotic structure, but a social and situated one.

Intertextuality is an important concept in audience studies. Meaning is not to be found in the text independently of its readers; audiences use intertextuality to construct ideologically significant meanings. Audiences are active participants in not just decoding the meaning of a text, but actually co-creating it. Audiences actively construct ideological meanings within individual texts, and intertextually produce an overall web of meaning across several texts. Interpretation creates meaning, which in turn create new texts that contribute to the overall intertextual structure.  This process of meaning-making is cumulative, open-ended and inclusive:  texts generate meanings generate texts, connected in an intertextual contruction. A particular way of creating texts/meanings occurs when audiences literally produce new texts, adding their own contribution to the intertextual web.

Essential Readings

Other Resources


Transformative Works and Cultures Academic Journal

Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) is a Gold Open Access international peer-reviewed journal published by the Organization for Transformative Works edited by Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson.

TWC publishes articles about popular media, fan communities, and transformative works, broadly conceived. We invite papers on all related topics, including but not limited to fan fiction, fan vids, mashups, machinima, film, TV, anime, comic books, video games, and any and all aspects of the communities of practice that surround them. TWC’s aim is twofold: to provide a publishing outlet that welcomes fan-related topics, and to promote dialogue between the academic community and the fan community.

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