Research groups and graduate student research in the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film.

Research Groups

Crime Fiction Canada

Crime Fiction Canada is a collection of searchable databases related to the study of Detective Fiction in English in a variety of media – print, film, and television. Owned and maintained by CPCF and Interdisciplinary MA in Popular Culture faculty members Jeannette Sloniowski and Marilyn Rose, the databases cover primary and secondary sources, as well as the Skene-Melvin Collection of Crime, Mystery, and Detective Fiction, which is housed in the James A. Gibson Library at Brock. Learn more or search the databases.

Transmedia Research Network

The Transmedia Research Network (TRN) formed in May 2011 to explore emerging forms of transmedia texts and practices. The network is made up of a group of scholars from CPCF and the Interdisciplinary MA in Popular Culture who employ multiple disciplinary perspectives on contemporary media transformations. TRN defines transmedia as the circulation of media formats across multiple platforms, where producers and consumers of media content interact in a relationship that creates a larger and more complex whole.

In 2012-2013, the network hosted a Speakers Series, which featured Greg de Peuter, Lina Srivastava, and the CBC’s Nora Young.

Learn more about the TRN’s ongoing work.

The Transmedia Research Network (TRN) formed in May 2011 to explore emerging forms of transmedia texts and practices. We are a group of scholars employing multiple disciplinary perspectives on contemporary media transformations.

The concept of ‘transmedia’ has been located, defined and described within media industries, online communities and scholarly literature.

TRN defines transmedia as the circulation of media formats across multiple platforms, where producers and consumers of media content interact in a relationship that creates a larger and more complex whole.

Transmedia analysis explores the creation and circulation of meaning across technological platforms and through the myriad textual constructions and audience activities that comprise contemporary media.

Transmedia are not limited to specific tools, texts or practices; they constitute an emerging immersive media universe shaped by processes of collective intelligence.

TRN researchers explore the capacity of emerging media to generate new interactive relationships, create innovative forms of popular expression and offer expanded opportunities for public engagement and education.

Emerging transmedia are changing the face of cultural production, political engagement, social movements, education, public relations and marketing. The Network seeks to link researchers, educators, media practitioners, creative artists, policymakers, citizens’ groups and businesses with shared interests in contemporary transmedia trends.

TRN research projects examine the local, regional, national and global impact of transmedia platforms and practices and their role in social, cultural and economic development.

Jeff Boggs
Associate Professor of Geography, MA Program in Popular Culture

Jeff Boggs studies the locational dynamics of media and other cultural industries. His current transmedia interests revolve around tracing the geographical and occupational trajectories of workers in Ontario’s interactive digital media economy, and more generally the role of IDM as a motor of local economic regeneration.

Jacqueline Botterill
Associate Professor, Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film, MA in Popular Culture

Jacqueline Botterill is exploring transmedia developments in promotional and consumer cultures by way of two research trajectories. First, her studies of specific advertising sectors — fashion, personal finance, food, and real estate — suggest that many advertising agencies, faced greater scrutiny of budgets by clients and technological changes by attempting to become transmedia innovators. Botterill is examining evidence of different instances of promotional transmedia phenomenon — internet hoaxes, games, brand activation events  — to further understanding, public discussion and debate of contemporary advertising. Second, the topic of food elicits  a wide-ranging discussion and varied set of practices within consumer cultures. To broaden current food debates, Botterill is gathering data relating to everyday eating practices and media.  The aspect of this research that explores how the political economy of media shapes the construction and circulation of particular versions of eating within advertising and television programming is relevant to transmedia studies.  Botterill’s preferred method of gaining insight into everyday practices is diary and interviews.  Along with colleagues Marian Bredin and Tim Dun, she published the findings of the Transmedia Diary study in a 2015 article in the Canadian Journal of Communication.

Dale Bradley
Assistant Professor, Chair, Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film, MA in Popular Culture, MA in Social Justice and Equity Studies

Dale Bradley’s research interests focus on the ways in which the materiality of communication technologies informs sociocultural practices, spatial formations, and power relations. With regard to transmedia, he is concerned with two areas: 1) the role of the document in the constitution of transmediated discourse and, in particular, how online and physical archives provide a material basis for the circulation of knowledge, 2)  the relationship between transmedia, media ecology, and (cyber) subjectivity. Dale’s publications in the area of digital culture include articles on IT and organizational forms, the free/open software movement, social media/file sharing communities, and cybersubjectivity.

Marian Bredin
Associate Professor, Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film, MA in Popular Culture

Marian Bredin’s research interests lie in the implications of transmedia texts and practices for the political economy of Canadian cultural industries and media policy. She is particularly interested in understanding how transmedia are emerging and developing within Indigenous media, community media and social movements. Her co-edited collections Canadian Television: Text and Context and Indigenous Screen Cultures in Canada  explore aspects of past and future formations of television in Canada. This past research connects to more recent work on how transmedia flows are shaping relations between indigenous people and other Canadians, published on the openDemocracy website, and presented to the International Association for Media and Communication Research in 2016. Along with colleagues Jacqueline Botterill and Tim Dun, she published the findings of the Transmedia Diary study in a 2015 article in the Canadian Journal of Communication.

Tim Dun
Associate Professor, Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film, MA in Popular Culture

Tim Dun studies communication about parenting and families. He is interested in the ways that popular advice and narratives about parenting and grandparenting intersect with family members’ understanding of themselves. Thus, his research emphasizes reception and interpretation, rather than production, of transmedia texts. In 2013 he and a former Brock undergraduate published a qualitative analysis of the ways that children impact relationships between new parents and grandparents. Along with colleagues Marian Bredin and Jackie Botterill, he published the findings of the Transmedia Diary study in a 2015 article in the Canadian Journal of Communication.

Derek Foster
Associate Professor, Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film, Director, MA in Popular Culture

Derek Foster’s research focuses on visual rhetoric and popular media in the public sphere. His current transmedia projects take on two separate forms: First, he is examining the theming of spaces and extending immersive storytelling in museum and tourism contexts. Second, he has a number of ongoing projects investigating the application of a film or TV narrative to boost the image of a place and/or function as avatars of public memory. Popular media increasingly are becoming the foundation for ‘non-mediated’ experiences with local and material culture. Places such as Vulcan, Alberta, the ‘Cheers’ bar(s) in Boston and statues such as the ‘Bronze Fonz’ in Milwaukee, the setting for Happy Days, or the ‘King of Kensington’ in Toronto become resources for public recollection, place promotion, heritage and tourism production and secular pilgrimages for fans. His most recent work is “Believe It and Not: The Playful Pull Of Popular Culture-Themed Tourism Attractions” in Scott A. Lukas (2016.), Themed and Immersive Spaces: Beyond Simulation and Authenticity.  These studies supplement the literature on the visual/material rhetoric of memorials by shifting attention to seemingly non-important artifacts of popular culture. They contribute to the field of transmedia studies by moving beyond media and examining themed spaces in a context of non-mediated, material culture.

Jennifer Good
Associate Professor, Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film, MA in Popular Culture, MA in Social Justice and Equity Studies.

Jennifer Good’s research is underpinned by questions about the role of mediated communication in shaping our relationship with the natural environment.  Her book Television and the Earth: Not a Love Story (2013) explores links between television, materialism and environmental crisis.  Good’s interests in transmedia research sit at the intersections of digital information/communication technologies (ICTs) and social/environmental change. In particular, she is exploring the ways in which digital ICT technologies and practices are contested terrain. How are digital ICT facilitating environmentally positive thinking and behaviours? In what ways are digital ICTs facilitating the entrenchment of environmentally devastating “business as usual”? Good’s transmedia-related projects include a multi-media exploration of the lifecycle of communication electronics (mining, assembly, use, waste), a book project looking at Aboriginal people’s digital ICT use and a forthcoming paper in the Canadian Journal of Communication 42(1) that details the symbolic annihilation of the iPhone’s environmental impact.

Karen Louise Smith
Associate Professor, Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film, MA in Popular Culture

Dr. Smith’s research explores the tensions between openness, privacy, and participation in technologically mediated culture. Dr. Smith conducted collaborative research with Mozilla to build the Hive Toronto digital literacy network. The network consists of over 60 organizational members. Dr. Smith is also currently a collaborator on the eQuality Project to examine issues facing youth such as privacy and cyberbullying.

Transmedia Diary 2014 Results Infographic
Jacqueline Botterill, Marian Bredin, & Tim Dun

Past research documents the types of media Canadians use, but we know little about how media are assembled by audiences to interact with content. The goal of this research is to understand how audiences flow across diverse media in a single day. This 5-year series of studies focuses on how media users engage with and assemble different media throughout their day. We do not assume that audiences will use one medium at a time, instead, transmedia theory leads us to expect and account for media multitasking. To understand the contexts of transmedia practices, we are documenting not simply the number, type and time of media use, but also where people use media and for what reason they choose each medium. Our in-depth focus on a single day for each year’s diary is important, because it enables us to consider how media patterns map upon, mark and frame wider patterns of everyday life (breakfast, sleeping, lunch time, work, school, and leisure time). 

  1. Data collection. In 2012, approximately 400 first, second, third, and fourth year Communication Popular Culture and Film undergraduate students volunteered to document their media use for one day. The diary has been distributed in selected CPCF courses each year since. However, the Transmedia Diary has been modified and updated. In 2013, participants completed their diaries on line.
  2. Findings. Analysis of the first diary was completed in 2014. Researchers found that participants’ use a range of media throughout the day. Students valued what media theorists call “convenience technologies,” which allow them to coordinate, virtually enact, stack or shift their media use and social interaction. In other words, digital media help users to fit communication into busy lives and their personal timetables. The researchers used Alan Warde’s theory of hypermodern times to explain the results of the study. Warde says that in our fractured environment, people no longer have shared schedules (with everyone working 9 to 5), so we use technology to gain more personal control over timing. Technology helps us manage relationships. The study results show that Millennials’ use of online socializing is neither trivial nor alienating. Instead, this technologically savvy generation seems to work harder to connect and create a social life than many others have in the past (when shared schedules were common). The researchers have also completed preliminary analysis of the 2013 diaries; here are presentation slides summarizing the findings of this second study.
  3. Grants.The team has received several seed grants from Brock University, including a Brock University Advancement Fund award, two Council for Research in the Social Sciences (CRISS) grants and an Experience Works Grant.In 2015, we will use the CRISS funds for a new on-line survey. This improved data collection tool will be easier for participants to complete and for the research team to analyse. The team recently applied for an Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to build upon the media diary studies.
  4. Training. These awards pay for many expenses, but student salaries account for the vast majority of the grant monies we have received. Each year, a number of Brock University students have contributed to our research. Undergraduate students have a prominent role, as they have promoted the study, collected diaries, helped analyse responses, and more. Such contributions not only help the research team, but the experiences and associated mentoring also teach the research assistants valuable skills.

Council for Research in the Social Sciences, March 2012 | Jennifer Good

In this research project, Professor Good is exploring how those involved with hegemonic and counterhegemonic movements make use, and make sense, of transmedia’s role in their work.

Uses and Gratifications theory creates the foundations of this research in which members of various Occupy movements and executives from marketing/advertising agencies are interviewed to provide a picture of how sociopolitical orientation relates to transmedia technology.

The Occupy Movement provides an excellent example of the powerful counterhegemonic role that transmedia can play in uprisings and calls for social change.

Advertisers and marketers are, however, steadfastly researching transmedia’s hegemonic potential for entrenching “business as usual” and encouraging capitalism’s primary tenet of economic growth through ever increasing consumption. This research therefore explores how individuals with very different goals are embracing emerging technologies.

Popular Culture Niagara

In 2001, eight Brock University faculty members formed an interdisciplinary research group called Popular Culture Niagara (PCN). The goal was to document historical, contemporary and culturally neglected aspects of local popular culture in Niagara, and to ensure that important local documents and artifacts were preserved for regional heritage and tourism. The group had three broad focal areas of research: Memories and Heritage; Sounds and Scenes; and Movies and Theatres. With Barry Grant acting as director, the group applied for (and received, in 2003) a Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada (SSHRCC) grant, with special attention to the interdisciplinary engagement of the projects and to employing graduate students in the Interdisciplinary MA in Popular Culture as research assistants.

PCN members gave numerous conference papers and local presentations on Niagara’s popular culture histories. A colloquium (2002) drew wide interest in the work of the PCN group, and the Popular Culture Niagara Conference (2006) revealed a range of research being conducted on the “localisms” of popular culture by seasoned academics and graduate students. Covering Niagara: Studies in Local Popular Culture, co-edited by Barry Grant and Joan Nicks, included essays from PCN members and other scholars in the field and was published in 2010.

Graduate student research

The following list includes the authors and project titles of graduates of the MA in Popular Culture. Titles in red can be accessed in full by clicking through to the Brock Digital Repository.