Performing Characters: An Audience-Centered Analysis
Abstract: This paper asks how “actual” audiences understand performance in stop motion and puppet animation films, drawing methods of empirical, qualitative analysis from the wider field of media reception and ethnography. Some of the key questions I have in conducting this study are: Do our current frameworks for animation performance correspond with the viewing practices of audiences? What criteria do audiences find most importance for assessing a puppet’s or clay figure’s performance? Through a series of focus groups and interviews, participants related their interpretations of short animations, emphasizing the importance of character and raising unexpected issues for audience identification.
Biographical Statement: Laura Ivins-Hulley is a doctoral student studying film and media at Indiana University. Her research includes inquiries into animated performance and spectatorship, and this paper attempts to help widen the methodologies available in the study of both. To that end, this fall she will begin a project on adults’ memories of Saturday-morning cartoons, examining how they narrate their childhoods and identities through them.