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Name: Robert Stenson

PhD: Film & Television Studies

Thesis Title: 'Live' moments: Social Media and the distribution of movie trailers. 

Thesis Description:

Hashtags; live-streaming; 24-hour Snap stories...

In a digital media landscape which is increasingly problematic to navigate, both for users and content-producers, this thesis intends to examine the ways in which a major creative industry is attempting to situate itself and its content in a virtual environment which is constantly shifting and evolving beneath its virtual feet.

Much academic discourse is devoted to the study of the U.S. movie industry and its promotional and marketing facets. A recent boom in interest (Johnston 2009; Gray 2010; Kerrigan 2010; Grainge & Johnson 2015) reinforces the pertinence such studies still hold in contemporary academic research. Yet the focus of such investigations has been either on the production (Marich 2013), or on the circulation (Jenkins 2013; van Dijck 2013) of promotional materials during their lifecycle. The bridge between these two areas - the moment of distribution - has remained vastly unexamined. 

With social media platforms increasingly facilitating both instantaneous social connectivity, and content creation, distribution and consumption, the 'here-and-now' nature of audience-demand and -access is subverting long-standing industry practices. One such practice is the distribution of movie trailers.

The key question this thesis aims to answer, therefore, is in what ways is 'live' social media being used by the U.S. movie industry to position trailers within an evolving ecosystem of connected media? 

Employing Karin van Es' 'constellation of liveness', I intend to unpack the live moment surrounding the deployment of particular movie trailers - examining the distribution of these pieces of promotional material within a social media ecosystem which is becoming increasingly crowded, complex and fluid.


Supervisors and Institution(s): 

Prof. Paul Grainge - University of Nottingham

Prof. Cathy Johnson - University of Nottingham



'Go Live!': Facebook and the 'virtually-live' trailer launch, paper given at 'CLAS 2017: Biennial Postgraduate Symposium', University of Nottingham, May 2017.

Transmedia to Trans-channel: Film trailers and the television ad-break, paper given at 'Transmedia UK: Sector by Sector', Bath Spa University, November 2017.

'Go Live!': Facebook and the 'virtually-live' trailer launch, at 'MeCCSA 2018', London South Bank University, January 2018.

'Go Live!': Facebook and the 'virtually-live' trailer launch, at 'Media Industry Studies: Current Debates and Future Directions', King's College London, April 2018.[Accepted]

Scholarly/Public Engagement Activities:

Digital Culture Research Network (DCRN)[Member] at University of Nottingham. The DCRN creatively explores how digital practices are embedded, enacted and embodied across diverse spheres of human being, and attempt to elucidate the means through which society can understand the technical relations that colour contemporary life. 

‘Digital⇌Culture: A one-day conference’ (M3C CDF, presented by DCRN)[Lead Applicant], 20th April 2018.


Teaching Experience:

Teaching Assistant (September 2017 - present) Department of Culture, Film and Media, University of Nottingham.[Module: W52207 Understanding Cultural Industries]

Technical Assistant/Demonstrator (September 2016 - June 2017) School of Arts, University of Kent.


Research Interests:

  • Media Distribution
  • Promotional Materials
  • Social Media
  • Digital Culture
  • Golden Age cinema
  • Movement through the city


University email: robert.stenson[at]

Twitter: @robert_stenson

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