The stuff of dreams: archaeology, audience and becoming material

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

Abstract

In 2006, I produced a baseline data report for English Heritage and the Council for British Archaeology on the numbers, social class, gender and ethnicity of televisual archaeology audiences. The research was commissioned in order to provide a comparison with ongoing demographic research into visitor numbers for museums and historic and ancient monuments. The seeming popularity of antiques and ‘ancient civilizations’ programmes -- particularly those in docu-drama form -- supports recent claims that viewers are drawn towards content that provides the ‘affect’ of excitement and the ‘spectacular’ (Hill 2005; King 2005; Piccini 2007). Audience figures for programmes addressing questions of the local -- eg, Coast (BBC2) and The Lost World of Friese-Greene (BBC2) -- indicate the impact of the ‘power of place’. Yet, the commissioned research did not address the more interesting and intellectually pressing questions around audiences. There is little sense of how archaeological television circulates through our everyday lives or how specific, material factors shape the affective power of television archaeologies. In short, how are audiences also users of these screened archaeologies? As more programmes launch online manifestations – automatic SMS messaging along coastal walks as part of Coast; the hugely popular Time Team internet forum – we find new opportunities for understanding how screen-based archaeologies are at the heart of active community building and social experience.
Translated title of the contributionThe stuff of dreams: archaeology, audience and becoming material
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUniversity of Lincoln
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

Name and Venue of Event: Televising History
Conference Organiser: Ann Gray and Erin Bell

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