Bringing in the Connotative in #Captions: Nicole Snell's Dissertation on Captions

That title can't sum up Nicole Snell's dissertation, but it does emphasize one of the key points she makes in her work. I'm about twenty pages in and quite enjoying it. It's a dissertation, not an academic article, so that make the reading flow differently; however, the content and focus are quite refreshing.

Particularly love this part:

"This goal [of the dissertation] is undergirded by the hypothesis: since closed captioning changes the passive viewing experience into an active reading one, it can be predicted that users of closed captioning construct connotative and emotional meaning through viewing and meaning making strategies that are different than the strategies individuals who have access to the audio soundtrack and scene action do" (p. 12).

Over the past couple days, I have been trying to think and better understand why I like captions. I seem to have some kind of fixation or attachment to them--something akin to my former obsession with punk rock or specific bands when I was sixteen or eighteen. It's like an itch or fixation or something. Snell's quote, though, helps me better understand my focus on captions though--if only a little bit. Watching the telly, well, just does not do it for me. Boring. I want the captions, and the captions serve and work as a kind of validator of what I'm seeing and hearing. 

Captions also provide additional information. Sometimes it's song lyrics--not always easy to discern if you are just listening; other times, it's background muttering by another character--not always clear in the actual spoken dialogue. If memory serves me right, this happens a fair amount in Orphan Black and similar conspiracy-esque series. Back to Snell's point, though: I'm not just watching, I am also reading.

When I read captions, though, it's not a passive activity. I read and see if all the dialogue is there. I look for specific sounds. I wonder about the presentation of accents--or not. I wonder what non-speech information (NSI) [using a descriptor developed, as far as I know, by Sean Zdenek] is presented and why. I am entertained by the narrative but engage with one form of its representation.

I know that this post's focus is on what and why I like captions--at least part of the reason. The affective is another emphasis Snell cover's in her diss--not just the connotative. If you want more details, please check out her work. Really. This is some exciting thinking!

And yes, this is a processing and working through post.