July 07, 2011

'Fanvid' research wins award for SIUC student

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Kristi Brownfield, a doctoral student in sociology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is the Carl J. Couch Internet Research Award recipient for 2011.

The annual Couch Award, sponsored by the Carl Couch Center for Social and Internet Research, is open to graduate and undergraduate students of all disciplines. A four-person review committee judges theoretical and empirical papers on aspects of Internet research.

Brownfield’s paper is titled, “Shots to the canon: the emergence of interpretation in online fanvid discourse.” She posits that fanvids, which she defines as “clips and/or images from media such as television and film remixed to music in some sort of narrative message,” can serve as a “gauge for the diffusion of cultural narratives and cultural meaning.”

The fanvids, the way they are presented and the themes their creators explore are in themselves a form of interpreting culture, particularly so because fanvids often spark discussion on the sites where they appear.

“This award leads to an invitation to present (my research) at a large, international conference in October,” Brownfield said. “(It also leads to) recognition within two of my subfields (social psychology and Internet research).”

She noted that this research is part of her dissertation research, and sees this recognition of her research thus far as “a good sign for my dissertation.”

Brownfield, an Urbana native, said she hopes to finish her dissertation within the next two years. She works closely with Jennifer L. Dunn, professor and graduate director in the Department of Sociology.

Mark D. Johns, executive director for the Carl Couch Center, described this year’s round of papers as “rigorous.”

Award winners receive a cash prize and an invitation to present their research at this year’s annual conference of the Association of Internet Researchers, to be held in Seattle, Wash. in October.

The Carl Couch Center for Social and Internet Research is a not-for-profit organization established to promote the scholarship of the late Carl J. Couch and his academic associates. Couch is recognized as the founder of The New Iowa School in sociological and communication inquiry, and was a pioneer in the qualitative research of information technologies.

For more information about the Department of Sociology at SIUC, visit http://sociology.siuc.edu/.