Online comments sections as interpretive communities

Submitted by: Dag Skarstein
Abstract: Movies and TV-series represent important narrative fields for young people, and comments sections associated with different TV- and online-series are relatively new venues where viewers/readers can exchange their experiences of dramaturgic unities. The comments sections can be understood as interpretive communities where literary experiences and interpretations are shared, and thus a possible arena for developing hermeneutic discourse. Comments sections also represent a new and interesting source for phenomenological studies (Bruner 1990, Lakoff and Johnson 1999) of fictional reading as the context differs from L1-classrooms. For example, the readings are not facilitated or monitored by a teacher and the participation is voluntary.

The presentation will focus on patterns that occur in the comments sections of a Norwegian high school drama called Skam. The TV-series generated a lot of activity in both national and international comments sections. The comments were categorized on the basis of syntagmatic and paradigmatic thinking (Bruner 1990) and primary and secondary discourse (Gee 2015). The analysis reveals two distinct patterns; one where the series is interpreted either in a primary emotional and intersubjective discourse or in a secondary hermeneutic discourse (Gee 1999, Penne 2007). The second pattern concerns the question of who is talking with whom. The talk will argue that the comment sections reveal two interpretive communities that do no communicate with each other, and furthermore, that these patterns may cast light over the differences in literary competence that occurs in L1-classrooms.

Key words: comments sections, hermeneutic interpretations, TV-series, fictional reading

Bruner, J. S. (1990). Acts of meaning. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press.
Gee, J. P. (2015). An introduction to discourse analysis. New York: Routledge.
Lakoff, G. and M. Johnson (1999). Philosophy in the flesh : the embodied mind and its challenge to Western thought. New York, Basic Books.
Penne, S. (2007). Min mening og min verden: om kulturer, klasser og litteraturundervisning på ungdomstrinnet”. I “Eskilsson, Olle, Redfors, Andreas (red.), Ämnesdidaktik ur ett nationellt och internationellt perspektiv: rapport från Rikskonferensen i ämnesdidaktik 2006, Kristianstad: Kristianstad University Press , 2007, p. 231-244.