Media violence and education : a study of youth audiences and the horror genre
This thesis considers the implications of recent work in Cultural Studies for the teaching of contemporary popular culture. By taking horror films as its departure point, it addresses public debates and 'moral panics' about 'violent' genres, particularly recent proposals that education may act as an adjunct to centralised control and regulation of the media. The methodology used was empirical 'action research' into teaching of the horror genre within Media Studies A-Level courses. The thesis presents the findings of four case studies carried out in two schools with male and female students aged 16-17 years, of contrasting class and ethnic background. Data, including interviews, transcripts of classroom exchanges and students' videos and writing, is interpreted using discourse analysis, psychoanalytic approaches, and postmodern perspectives on researcher reflexivity. It considers youth audiences' existing strategies for managing their consumption of the mass media. It questions how teachers and students relate to 'cultural value' in contemporary society, and the role of media 'theory' and media production in enhancing learning and understanding. It argues for displacing the privilege granted within media education (and some radical, critical and feminist pedagogies) to dominant modernist discourses which valorise rational, systematised epistemologies, critical autonomy and established value hierarchies. It suggests how 'subjugated' knowledges implicit within practical media production, story-telling or descriptive writing, jokes and even 'mistakes' challenge assumptions about media 'effects' and can be put to work within 'pedagogies of everyday life'. It concludes that a more acute analysis of the intersubjective, relational, unconscious, desiring and affective dimensions of learning and teaching is necessary to understand classroom life and to promote socially just educational practices.