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 C-SPAN and the C-SPAN Archives

Chapter 1: Introduction to C-SPAN, Its Mission, and Its Academic Commitment by Susan Swain

Chapter 2: Introduction to the C-SPAN Video Library by Robert X. Browning

Chapter 3: C-SPAN’s Origins and Place in History: Personal Commentary by Brian Lamb

PART II Research Case Studies Using Rhetorical and Historical Lenses

Chapter 4: Preserving Black Political Agency in the Age of Obama: Utilizing the C-SPAN Video Archives in Rhetorical Scholarship by Theon E. Hill

Chapter 5: Going Beyond the Headlines: The C-SPAN Archives, Grassroots ’84, and New Directions in American Political History Kathryn Cramer Brownell

Chapter 6: Deference in the District: An Analysis of Congressional Town Hall Meetings From the C-SPAN Video Library by Colene J. Lind

PART III Research Case Studies Using Social Scientific Lenses

Chapter 7: Using the C-SPAN Archives to Enhance the Production and Dissemination of News by Stephanie E. Bor

Chapter 8: Measuring Emotion in Public Figures Using the C-SPAN Archives by Christopher Kowal

Chapter 9: A Social Practice Capital to Enhance the C-SPAN Archives to Support Public Affairs Programming by Sorin Adam Matei

PART IV Teaching Case Studies

Chapter 10: Using the C-SPAN Archives to Teach Mass Communication Theory by Glenn G. Sparks

Chapter 11: Teaching American Government Concepts Using C-SPAN by Robert X. Browning

Chapter 12: Interactive Learning In and Out of the Classroom by Robert X. Browning

Chapter 13: Designing and Teaching Multidisciplinary Project-Based Teams Using the C-SPAN Archives by William Oakes, Carla Zoltowksi, Patrice M. Buzzanell

PART V Future Possibilities

Chapter 14: Partisanship Without Alternatives: Keynote Reflections on C-SPAN and My Mother by Roderick P. Hart

Chapter 15: Reflections on the Potential and Challenges of the C-SPAN Archives for Discovery, Learning, and Engagement by Patrice M. Buzzanell