Madonna, after years of putting it off (:icon_redface:), I read the article last night (or early this morning, actually). My first impression is that you have a tremendous vocabulary and facility with language, one that, in this particular instance, was a bit daunting to me as a lay person since you had to employ a lot of terminology with specific application in your field. I don't pretend that I grasped more than a small fraction of it. And so, in that sense, I have to say that I don't think that my otherwise inexcusable procrastination cost you much in terms of constructive feedback I might have offered when you were still working on the article. I have absolutely no knowledge of or thoughts about the sociological or psycho-social elements of the thesis (which is to say not much input to offer on any of the really substantive part of the article!) It's just way above my head and, frankly, out of my realm of personal interest.
I am very aware, I think, of why I loved and was captivated by the show and was motivated to want to discuss it with other people. And those discussions left me with some sense of why certain others were motivated to do the same. But understanding audience reaction in general, the cultural and trans-personal psychological elements of that reaction, and so forth were never facets that I cared to delve into that much. And what I know about media studies you could fit into a thimble with room to spare, so I just don't think I could have offered much to you in that vein. (I'll let you decide whether or not my feelings in this regard are part of the "devaluing of academic knowledge/study" of media phenomena that you mentioned certain fan communities might have. I don't think personal interest, or lack thereof, is equivalent to valuation, but perhaps there is some overlap.)
I can say that I was very captivated by the personal background you offered and your analysis of how that background played into both your interest in the series and your interest in studying audience perception of it. If the insertion of "self" into the subject matter of an academic inquiry is supposed to be a "no-no", this no-no was, for me, a welcome one.
I was particularly struck by how the Livia character resonated in your own psyche with your grandmother and that your daughter, named for her, was apparently a newborn (or close to it) when your grandmother died. I can see how that dynamic would play into the very apt point about how certain cultural landmarks (movies, music, but ESPECIALLY, I think, serial television shows) can create a sense of "home", particularly for individuals who are geographically (or even emotionally or psychologically) displaced from what they regard as home.
That played out in my own life VERY significantly, particularly with regard to two television serials that I followed at various times, "General Hospital" (during the Luke and Laura heyday) and "The Waltons". When I left home for the first time not associated with going to school somewhere but with getting a job and embarking on "life", The Waltons was airing in the mornings in syndication in the city of my residence, which was 500 miles from my home. I was lonely, depressed, displaced from my roots in all ways. Watching that show every morning before work, the same show I'd watched as a kid in my parents' living room on Thursday nights, was such a comfort and vehicle for emotional connection to those times and people and places. The fact that it was a story centered on a family and the love that bound them together made it all the more an appropriate screen for me to project back my own family memories.
The Sopranos was different for me in terms of where I was in life when I started watching it and what drew me to it. But there's no denying that a HUGE part of its drawing power for me was the fact that it centered on a blood family that, despite significant differences, was still recognizable to me in a lot of ways as what I grew up in and around. And the other issues that were dominating my consciousness when the Sopranos obsession came on and that served as personal "hooks" into the narrative were, in their own way, just as powerful as the hook of family had been with the Waltons, illustrating the larger point about an audience looking for or needing to find in a TV show certain resonant elements with their inner lives in order to truly connect with it.
In any case, I can only begin to imagine how much research and thought and effort went into putting the article together. It all impressed as very well-written but, for me, it shined most brightly in the personal aspects. And I sense that it fulfilled not only the academic goals you set but significant personal goals as well. That makes it more than just a job well done.
P.S. - It was a blast to see you mention the old Sopranoland boards. I do vaguely recall you trying to organize chats from the UK during season 5 immediately after episode premieres, despite the time difference and the fact that you had not even been able to see the episodes under discussion! Talk about dedication!
I'm sure I must have ducked into those chats on occasion, but I always preferred posting to chatting, especially immediately after a show, so I don't have any real memories of those chats. To me, the show was so deep that it demanded the kind of reflective commentary that I could only muster in posts after properly organizing my thoughts and attempting to write them out coherently. That wild west, free-for-all atmosphere of the chatroom just never fit that, for me, although I know many others loved them.
I always preferred chatting during down times, off season, or before an episode when the banter could be light and more in the nature of anticipation than dissection. But, then, I always did take this show too seriously.