Friday, March 30, 2007


Crowds, edited by Jeffrey T. Schnapp and Matthew Tiews (Stanford, 2007). Essays by literary scholars and historians on crowds and crowd behavior in the modern world. (VP)

Radical Order of Things: Cultural Imaginaries of the Post-soul Era (University of Minnesota Press, 2007). The cultural backlash against affirmative action in popular and legislative texts.

Significant Gestures: A History of American Sign Language, by John Taback (Praeger, 2007). Documents the evolution of ASL beginning in the early 19th century that actually borrowed from sign language in France in the 18th century. (VP)

Killing Women: The Visual Culture of Gender and Violence, edited by Annette Burfoot and Susan Lord (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2007). Analysis of female killers in popular culture. (VP)

Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America’s Media, by Eric Klinenberg (Metropolitan Books, 2007). Opening with the Minot, Nebraska incident of monopoly ownership where residents of Minot could not be warned about an approaching cloud of poisonous gas from a train derailment because officials at Clear Channel Communications, which owned and operated all six local commercial radio stations, could not be reached (resulting in one death and many injuries), Klinenberg sounds the alarm against the corporate takeover of local news. (VP)

The Perils and Promise of Global Transparency: Why the Information Revolution May Not Lead to Security, Democracy, or Peace, by Kristin M. Lord (State University of New York Press, 2007). As the title suggests, the author takes the darker view of the effects of growing transparency of media technology focusing on the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the government control of information in Singapore. (VP)

Front-Page Girls: Women Journalists in American Culture and Fiction, 1880-1930, by Jean Marie Lutes (Cornell, 2007). Chronicles the exploits of a neglected group of American women writers and uncovers an alternative reporter-novelist tradition that runs counter to the more familiar story of gritty realism generated in male-dominated newsrooms. (VP)

Democratizing Technology: Andrew Feenberg’s Critical Theory of Technology, edited by Tyler J. Veak (State University of New York, 2007). Writings on the famous American philosopher of technology. (VP)

Insane Passions: Lesbianism and Psychosis in Literature and Film, by Christine E. Coffman (Wesleyan University Press, 2007). Explores the origin and meaning of the psychotic lesbian in the film and literature. (VP)

Figuring It Out: Science,, Gender, and Visual Culture, edited by Ann B. Shteir and Bernard Lightman (Dartmouth College Press/University Press of New England, 2007). Contains a wide variety of essays on the role of gender in the imagery of modern Western science, from “Those Who Drew and Those Who Wrote: Women and Victorian Popular Science Illustration” to “Men in White, Women in Aprons: Utopian Iconographies of TV Doctors.” (VP)

The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens, and the Making of a Mass Public, by Sarah E. Igo (Harvard, 2007) Demonstrates the power of scientific surveys to shape Americans' sense of themselves as individuals, members of communities, and citizens of a nation. (VP)

The Idea of a Free Press: The Enlightenment and Its Unruly Legacy, by David A. Copeland (Northwestern, 2006). An important addition to the history of freedom of the press with a strong focus on the relationship between the struggle for religious freedom and freedom of the press. (VP)

Women in Print: Essays on the Print Culture of American Women from the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, edited by James P. Danky and Wayne A. Wiegrand (University of Wisconsin, 2006). Showcasing women as authors, publishers, booksellers, journalists, editors, librarians, and readers, the book is divided into Part I: Print for a Purpose: Women as Editors and Publishers, Part II: Women in a World of Books, and Part III: A Centrifugal Force: Gendered Agency Through Print. (VP)

The Postwar Decline of American Newspapers, 1945-1965, by David R. Davies (Praeger, 2006). A good overview of the newspaper industry in the post-war era with particularly strong emphasis on civil rights and business aspects such as production and labor costs, the growth of suburban papers and competition from television news. (VP)

Who Says? Working-Class Rhetoric, Class Consciousness, and Community, edited by William DeGenero (University of Pittsburgh, 2007). In Who Says?, scholars of rhetoric, composition, and communications seek to revise the elitist “rhetorical tradition” by analyzing diverse topics such as settlement house movements and hip-hop culture to uncover how communities use discourse to construct working-class identity. The contributors examine the language of workers at a concrete pour, depictions of long-haul truckers, a comic book series published by the CIO, the transgressive “fat” bodies of Roseanne and Anna Nicole Smith, and even reality television to provide rich insights into working-class rhetorics.—Jennifer Beech, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (VP)

Freedom From Advertising: E.W. Scripp’s Chicago Experiment, by Duane C.S. Stoltzfus (University of Illinois, 2007) History of press baron E. W. Scripp’s 1911 experiment to prove that an ad-free newspaper could be profitable entirely on circulation.. The tabloid-sized newspaper was called the Day Book, and at a penny a copy, it aimed for a working-class market, crusading for higher wages, more unions, safer factories, lower streetcar fares, and women's right to vote. It also tackled the important stories ignored by most other dailies, like the labor conflicts that shook Chicago in 1912. (VP)

Filming the Modern Middle East: Politics in the Cinemas of Hollywood and the Arab World, by Lina Khatib (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). “Examines the cinematic depictions of major political issues, from the Arab-Israeli conflict to the Gulf War, to Islamic fundamentalism, looking at films made in the US, in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. She explores cinema's role as a tool of nationalism in the US and the Arab world, and the challenges the Arab cinemas present to Hollywood's dominant representations of Middle Eastern politics.” –publisher’s website (VP)

Killing the Indian Maiden: Images of Native American Women on Film, by M Elise Marubbio (University Press, 2007) The pattern of a Native American woman teaming up with a white and subsequently losing her life is traced in 34 films. (VP)

Web Campaigning, by Kirsten A. Foot and Steven M. Schneider (MIT, 2007) “A sophisticated, systematic analysis of campaign Web sites as practices, drawing on theoretical perspectives from political communication, structuration theory, and the social shaping of technology…the best available portrait of changing campaign Web practice over time.” Bruce Bimber, University of California, Santa Barbara (VP)

Cancer Activism: Gender, Media, Public Policy, by Karen M. Kedrowski and Marilyn Stine Sarow (University of Illinois, 2007). Comparison of the breast cancer and prostate cancer movements over a twenty year period (both diseases have almost identical mortality and morbidity rates). The authors demonstrate how the breast cancer movement was more pervasive and more successful in shaping media coverage, public policy and public opinion.

Doing Visual Ethnography: Images, Media, and Representation in Research, by Sarah Pink (Sage, 2007). Revised and updated edition explores the use and potential of photography, video and hypermedia in ethnographic and social research. (ASC)

Listening Beyond the Echoes: Media, Ethics, and Agency in an Uncertain World, by Nick Couldry (Paradigm, 2006). Couldry ponders question of how the media gets away with causing harm by misrepresentation. (VP)

Virtual Thailand: The Media and Cultural Politics in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, by Glen Lewis (Routledge, Oxford, 2006). Globalizing trends and policies, contracts in regional policies which dealt with the 1997 financial crisis, the media's role in social control, media regulation and reform, tourism and terrorism are all discussed in both Thai and regional contexts. (VP)

The Scripps Newspapers Go to War, 1914-18, by Dale Zacher. (University of Illinois, 2007). The inner workings of one of the nation’s most dominant news outlets during World War I when the pressures of the market, government censorship, and progressivism influenced wartime news coverage.

The System of Comics, by Thierry Groensteen (University Press of Mississippi, 2007). First English translation of the famous 1999 French study of the visual and textual techniques of comics.

The Future of Journalism in the Advanced Democracies, by Peter J. Anderson and Geoff Ward (Ashgate, 2007). Britain is the center of this study as its journalistic practices are compared to those in Germany, Italy, France, Japan, and the United States.

Cyberculture Theorists: Manuel Castells and Donna Haraway, by David Bell (Routledge Critical Thinkers Series, 2007). A great way to bone up on cyber theory. If you’re interested in cyberspace, the Internet, or the information society this books helps you talk the talk. (ASC)

Rhetoric Online: Persuasion and Politics on the World Wide Web, by Barbara Warnick (Peter Lange, 2007). Uses rhetorical theory to analyze political campaign websites and blogs.

Crime and Media in contemporary France, by Deborah Streifford Reisinger (Purdue University, 2007). The focus of this book is on how media coverage of two serial killer cases in France from the 1980s reinforces the culture’s dominant ideologies.

Love and Other Technologies: Retrofitting Eros for the Information Age, by Dominic Pettman (Fordham, 2007). “Can love really be considered another form of technology? ...Wresting the idea of love from the arthritic hands of Romanticism, Pettman demonstrates the ways in which this dynamic assemblage—"the stirrings of the soul"—have always been a matter of tools, devices, prosthetics, and media. Love is, after all, something we make. And, love, this book argues, is not eternal, but external.” –publisher’s website (VP)

Advertising on Trial: Consumer Activism and Corporate Public relations in the 1930s, by Inger L. Stole (University of Illinois, 2007). Met with fierce political opposition from organized consumer movements when it emerged, modern advertising was viewed as propaganda that undermined the ability of consumers to live in a healthy civic environment. Stole examines how these consumer activists sought to limit the influence of corporate powers by rallying popular support to moderate and transform advertising. Her account of this contentious struggle also demonstrates how public relations developed as a way to justify laissez-faire corporate advertising in light of a growing consumer rights movement. –publisher’s website (VP)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Spotlight on AnthroSource

Attention all ethnographers! Time to acquaint/reacquaint yourself with AnthroSource, the fulltext e-journal collection of the American Anthropological Association. As described in the Penn Libraries Homepage News, AnthroSource provides fulltext content for all AAA general and section journals--at present, 32 titles, including four ceased titles. Current issues and complete runs for 15 peer-reviewed journals are available in interactive-PDF format or through dynamic links to JSTOR, including: American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Anthropology and Education Quarterly, City and Society, Cultural Anthropology, Ethos, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Medical Anthropology Quarterly.

AnthroSource offers RSS feeds for new content. Personal no-fee registration enables e-mail Table of Contents alerts and saved searches. Registered AAA members are given access to the restricted recent backfile of Anthropology News, the AAA's membership newsletter. AnthroSource is compatible with RefWorks citation manager.

An interesting essay on the intended role of AnthroSource in anthropological research, teaching, and publishing, is provided by Bonnie Nardi, Michael Adams, Melody Chu, Shiraz Khan, John Lai, and Elsy Lao, "AnthroSource: Designing an Portal for Anthropologists", First Monday vol. 9, no 10 (October 2004). Suzanne Calpestri recently provided an update on AnthroSource to the ACLS Cyberinfrastructure Commission (with a PowerPoint presentation).

Monday, March 26, 2007

Coalition for Health Communication

The Coalition for Health Communication is up to a lot of good things for Healthcomm researchers and practitioners. You may already know about the Healthcomm Key, a searchable database containing comprehensive summaries from published peer-reviewed studies related to health communication that currently contains over 700 summaries. There's NIH librarian Marcia Zorn's monthly compilations of Health Communication Web Resources in pdf and word files. (I've forwarded these around through email but she since she now donates these excellent lists to the wider audience of the CHC, I'm happy to just point in the direction of this site.) Topics include: Adged/Elderly/Life course/Alzheimer's; Cancer; Bioethics/Ethics/Stem Cell Debate; Risk Perception/Risk Debate; HIV/AIDS; Palliative Care; Health Literacy; Prescriptions Drugs; Genetics/Genomes; Games/Gaming; E-Health; and many more. Then there is The Health Communication Bibliography Project, initiated in 2005 as a way to compile and broaden access to health communication scholarship. Initially, the intention was to demonstrate that health communication had matured as a discipline to the point that communication scholarship was being recognized and valued more and more widely in the health professions. To this end, the Top 60 ISI non-communication health-related journals from 2000 to present for peer-reviewed articles that dealt with some aspect of communication was searched. Nearly 700 articles were found and have been collected in an EndNote database. This CHC site is a must bookmark for Healthcomm researchers who want to keep an eye on the open web as well as University subscription databases for healthcomm topics.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Media Freedom Assessment and Evaluation

There are many organizations throughout the world that measure, evaluate, and promote media freedom. The four most prominent are:

Freedom House, based in Washington, DC, has been promoting democracy and human rights for over 60 years. Since 1978, it has published Freedom in the World, a global survey of 192 countries and 18 territories. In 1980 it began to survey press freedom separately. Surveys from 2002 to 2006 called Freedom of the Press are available at the website.

International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), also based in Washington, DC. Its website has an Independent Media section. There you'll find its famous Media Sustainability Index which it launched in 2001 to compare independent media on a global basis. Available for download at this time are two 2005 surveys for Europe and Eurasia, and the Middle East and North Africa.

Reporters san Frontieres (RSF) is the Paris based group that actively investigates and reports censorship throughout the world. Over 100 researchers, who each handle a region (Africa, the Americas, Asia/Pacific, Europe and the former Soviet bloc, Middle East/ North Africa) or a topic such as the Internet, compile reports of press freedom violations. After checking the information, the researchers and the organisations’ correspondents send protest letters to the authorities to put pressure on offending governments and send releases to the media to drum up support for the journalists under attack. RSF just published its 2007 Annual Press Freedom Survey (which go back to 2004 on the site). Other reports include Predators of Press Freedom, The War in Iraq, and Press Freedom Index. These folks love journalists. They run memorials to fallen journalists on the site and just recently with the French insurance company Bellini Prévoyance, in partnership with the ACE insurance group, began offering cut-price insurance coverage to freelance journalists and photographers on assignment anywhere in the world.

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), out of New York, started their operations in 1981. Their goal is to protect journalists against threat and attack by lobbying domestic and foreign governments on their behalf . They track chilling realities such as: journalist killed 1992-2006 (statistics, case files, database), journalists in prison, journalists missing from 1982 to present. They also publish an annual Attacks on the Press; their archive goes back to 1996.

Inspiration for this post is the article in The International Communication Gazette (Volume 69, Number 1, 2007) by Lee B. Becker, Tudor Vlad, and Nancy Nusser titled: An Evaluation of Press Freedom Indicators.
Despite uncertainties about the popular measures f media freedom, no systematic analyses have been undertaken of their development, of the assumptions that lie behind their different methodologies, of the reliability of the resultant measures, or of the consistency of conclusions across the different measures. This article examines four measures, by Freedom House, Reporters sans frontières, IREX and the Committee to Protect Journalists, and finds considerable consistency in the measurement. In addition, the Freedom House measure, which has been in existence for more than 20 years, varies in meaningful ways across time. The article examines the conceptual implications of these findings and offers suggestions for their use by researches in the future.

Issue on Spanish Television in the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies

The latest issue of the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies (Volume 8, Issue 1, 2007) is devoted to Spanish television studies. About half of the articles are in Spanish, half in English. The journal is available in e-format from the main Library webpage. Issue editor Paul Julian Smith sets the table in his introduction, New Approaches to Spanish Television:

"Spanish television is the elephant in the living room. Spaniards are amongst the most devoted watchers of television in the world and the last decade has seen an explosion of locally produced quality fiction in Spain, albeit one that has gone largely unnoticed except by avid viewers. The nightly audience for a single Spanish show (such as El comisario, the police drama that is the subject of one of the essays here) is greater than the annual audience for all Spanish feature films. Yet popular debate in Spain is dominated by the controversy over telebasura, and the relatively few academics who study Spanish television tend to restrict themselves to such topics as government policy toward the medium. Until Smith's recent Television in Spain, the only book in English on Spanish television was Richard Maxwell's The Spectacle of Democracy (1995), which focused exclusively on the institutional question of the coming of private television to Spain in the early 1990s.

Clearly the neglect of Spanish television by academics (with major exceptions such as Manuel Palacio) corresponds not only to a longstanding contempt for the medium, especially amongst intellectuals and the press, but also to the practical problem of addressing a huge and diverse object of study. This situation has changed recently with the availability of DVD box sets, which testify both to the new status of television drama, whose formal complexity rewards repeated viewings, and to the emotional investment of audiences in a medium whose intimate connection with everyday life renders it "closer" to Spanish viewers than cinema. Television no longer seems as ephemeral as it once did and scholars in Spain and abroad now have access to a large corpus of Spanish television which stretches back to the Francoist period.

Spanish TV studies can thus begin to address the question of the text: the specific aesthetic of the small screen. Yet that formal question must also be placed within an industrial context. Given the complex nature of TV "authorship" many producers will be at play here: executives (in state-owned TVE or the private channels), practitioners in the independent production companies that now provide the majority of Spanish programming, series creators, screenwriters, and stars. While all of these agents operate within institutional contexts (such as the extensive legislation on broadcasting recently passed by the Socialist government), the specific role of the creativity of producers must also be acknowledged in TV studies, as it is in cinema.

The essays that follow address in variable proportion and from different perspectives the three fields sketched above (that is to say, texts, producers and institutions) from the early years of Spanish broadcasting to the present day."

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Parents Television Council Report on TV Violence

The Parents Television Council (PTC) report "Dying to Entertain: Violence on Prime Time Broadcast Television, 1998-2006," by Caroline Schulenburg represents their second examination of TV violence during prime time on the six major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, UPN and the WB). Using the previous report, TV Bloodbath (released in December 2003 and analyzing content from the 1998, 2000, and 2002 television seasons) as a baseline, the PTC has discerned some longitudinal trends and qualitative differences over the past eight years. For this Special Report, PTC analysts reviewed programming from the first two weeks of the November, February and May sweeps during the 2003-2004, 2004-2005, and 2005-2006 television seasons for a total of 1,187.5 programming hours.

The PTC, famous for their Family Guide to Prime Time Television which rates TV shows on sex, language, and violence with a simple traffic light meter, does not hide its family values agenda but these reports offer some interesting findings. You can check out their methodology at the site's FAQ section and learn about their archive of over 95,000 hours of entertainment programming in [a]custom-designed Entertainment Tracking System (ETS) database.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Syllabus as a Communication Document

Most reading this blog have stood on both sides of a syllabus--receiving countless syllabi as a student, and constructing one's own, or soon to be constructing one's own. The latest Communication Education (Volume 56, No. 1, January 2007) features some research on this topic from a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln: The Syllabus as a Communication Document: Constructing and Presenting the Syllabus by Blair Thompson.

This interpretive study explored the communicative strategies teachers employ when constructing and presenting course syllabi to overcome challenges teachers face surrounding the syllabus. Data included 13 classroom observations, 19 teacher interviews, and document analysis of the instructors' syllabi. Communication strategies teachers used to welcome students, balance tensions when presenting the syllabus, and focus students' attention during the presentation emerged. The findings offer teachers suggestions on how to present and construct the syllabus more effectively.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Special Issues Gone Global!

The ever-international Index on Censorship's last issue in 2006 (Volume 35, Number 4) is called Tigers and Dragons: The Race for the Future. It focuses on China and India which will at some point in the 21st century will be the dominant global economies. But one is an open society and one is not. Explains Index editor-in-chief Ursala Owen:

They have much in common, these two Asian giants. Both are poor and largely agricultural: in both there are enormous disparities between town and country. Rising debt, soaring cost and plummeting prices have devastated Indian peasant farmers, who, as P. Sainath tells us, have been turning their despair inwards and committing suicide – 200 in the last two months alone. In China, urban dwellers earn three times as much as people in the countryside, and millions of peasants are moving to the cities to find work. Those who stay are, recounts Jasper Becker, increasingly rebelling against illegal land seizures and corruption.

But the glaring difference is that India is an open society and China is not. India can at least vent its problems in political debate; in China, the news media is tightly muzzled: information is hard to come by and unreliable. Indeed, parallel files for this issue of Index were not possible because there wasn’t parallel information. The diversity of India’s population and its political model may make its growth complex and slower. But it is this very diversity and democracy that helps to insulate it against some of the dangers of instability that Isabel Hilton suggests may be in store for China. With its model of unbridled government authority, China is far less able politically to manage conflicts. ‘In our heterogeneity and in our openness lies our pride, not our disgrace,’ says Amartya Sen, the Indian economist and Nobel Laureate.
The Howard Journal of Communications (Volume 18, Number 1, 2007) features a special forum on the Caribbean mediascape. The forum is titled: The Postcolonial Caribbean as a Liminal Space: Authoring Other Modes of Contestation and Affirmation. Maurice L. Hall is the guest editor.

Popular Journalism is the organizing theme of Journalism Studies (Volume 8, Number 1, 2008) which includes studies from the UK, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Norway and the Netherlands. Martin Conboy guest edits this issue on "a variety of forms of popular journalism from different national, technological and demographic contexts" and explains that "the advantage of this wide spectrum is that it demonstrates that popular culture is permeating cultural and generic areas as never before yet often retains very specific national characteristics...Popular journalism as a particular variant of popular culture can often lead to a parochialism which is most unhelpful in broadening social and cultural awareness beyond the narrow confines of a narrowly perceived insider category. However, there are trends triggered by technological developments and patterns of media consumption across sections of global youth culture...which indicate that this unappealing aspect of popular culture might be withering."

All of these issues are available as e-resources from the Penn Libraries homepage.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

March CommQuote

This month's quote is from the New York Times review by Scott Stossel of The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens, and the Making of a Mass Public, by Sarah E. Igo. The review of this interesting book on the history of public opinion measurements and their influence on how we think about ourselves is quite favorable but his parting reminder couldn't be more right on:

"Even as we have moved toward ever-finer calibrations of statistical measurement, the knowledge that social science can produce is, in the end, limited. Is the statistical average rendered by pollsters the distillation of America? Or its grinding down into porridge? For all of the hunger Americans have always expressed for cold, hard data about who we are, literary ways of knowing may be profounder than statistical ones. (You can learn as much about life on Main Street from Sinclair Lewis as from the Lynds.) Poll-saturated though we may be, our national self-understanding still comes as much from art (think of Norman Rockwell or Edward Hopper), literature (think of ''The Great Gatsby'' or even ''The Bonfire of the Vanities'') and impressionistic journalism (think of James Agee and Walker Evans, or Joan Didion) as it does from any survey. I'm sure at least 23 percent of Americans would agree with me."
--Scott Stossel, "Measure for Measure," New York Times, 1/21/ 2007
Painting: Edward Hopper, Room in New York (1932)

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