The C-SPAN Archives: An Interdisciplinary Resource for Discovery, Learning, and Engagement

Available Formats for this title


About this title

Purdue University Press
Professional & Scholarly


The C-SPAN Archives records, indexes, and preserves all C-SPAN programming for historical, educational, and research uses. Every C-SPAN program aired since 1987, from all House and Senate sessions in the US Congress, to hearings, presidential speeches, conventions, and campaign events, totaling over 200,000 hours, is contained in the video library and is immediately and freely accessible through the database and electronic archival systems developed and maintained by staff.

Whereas C-SPAN is best known as a resource for political processes and policy information, the Archives also offers rich educational research and teaching opportunities. This book provides guidance and inspiration to scholars who may be interested in using the Archives to illuminate concepts and processes in varied communication and political science subfields using a range of methodologies for discovery, learning, and engagement. Applications described range from teaching rhetoric to enhancing TV audience’s viewing experience. The book links to illustrative clips from the Archives to help readers appreciate the usability and richness of the source material and the pedagogical possibilities it offers. Many of the essays are authored by faculty connected with the Purdue University School of Communication, named after the founder of C-SPAN Brian Lamb.

The book is divided into four parts: Part 1 consists of an overview of the C-SPAN Archives, the technology involved in establishing and updating its online presence, and the C-SPAN copyright and use policy. Featured are the ways in which the collection is indexed and tips on how individuals can find particular materials. This section provides an essential foundation for scholars’ and practitioners’ increased use of this valuable resource. Parts 2 and 3 contain case studies describing how scholars use the Archives in their research, teaching, and engagement activities. Some case studies were first presented during a preconference at the National Communication Association (NCA) convention in November 2013, while others have been invited or solicited through open calls. Part 4 explores future directions for C-SPAN Archive use as a window into American life and global politics.


Table of Contents



Part I: Overview of the C-SPAN Archives.

Introduction to C-SPAN, its mission, and its academic commitment (Susan Swain, President and co-CEO, C-SPAN)

Introduction to the C-SPAN Video Library (Robert X. Browning, Director, C-SPAN Archives)

Commentary (Brian Lamb, Founder and Executive Chairperson, C-SPAN)


Part II: Research Case Studies

Preserving Black Political Agency in the Age of Obama: Utilizing the C-SPAN Video Archives in Rhetorical Scholarship (Theon E. Hill, Westchester University)

Using the C-SPAN Archives to Enhance the Production and Dissemination of News (Stephanie E. Bor, University of Nevada Reno)

Designing Multidisciplinary C-SPAN Design Teams (William Oakes and Carla Zoltowksi, Purdue University)

Measuring Emotion in Public Figures using the C-SPAN Archives (Christopher Kowal, Purdue University) 

Enhancing the C-SPAN Archives with Non-Textual Sentiment and Communicative Metadata (Sorin Matei, Purdue University)

Going “Beyond the Headlines”: The C-SPAN Archives, Grassroots’ 84, and New Directions in American Political History (Kathryn Cramer Brownell, Purdue University) 

Deference in the District: An Analysis of Congressional Town Hall Meetings from the C-SPAN Video Library (Colene Lind, University of Texas at Austin)


Part III: Teaching Case Studies

PICC: Learning from C-SPAN as an Educational Tool and Resource (Carolyn Curiel, Purdue University)

 Using the C-SPAN Archives to Teach Mass Communication Theory (Glenn Sparks, Purdue University)

 Teaching American Government Concepts Using C-SPAN (Robert X Browning, Purdue University)

 Creating a Playlist of Communication Scholars Featured in the C-SPAN Archives (Trevor Parry-Giles, National Communication Association)


Part IV: Future Possibilities

 C-SPAN Archives Distinguished Lecture (Roderick P. Hart, University of Texas at Austin)

 Reflections on the Potential and Challenges for Discovery, Learning, and Engagement (Robert Browning and Patrice M. Buzzanell, Purdue University)