Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Summer Booknotes

Tribal Warfare: Survivor and the Political Unconscious of Reality, by Christopher J. Wright (Lexington Books, 2006) Combines textual analysis and survey research to demonstrate that the TV show Survivor operates and resonates as a political allegory. Using the work of Fredric Jameson, this book reveals how Survivor frames its "characters" as "haves" and "have-nots." For those new to Jameson, Wright breaks down the theorist's notion of the political unconscious into easily understandable language. Using the results of a survey of Survivor viewers, Tribal Warfare demonstrates that viewers divide along gender, racial, age, and--most significantly--class-related lines in their consumption of, and reaction to, the program.

Media, Terrorism, and Theory: A Reader, edited by Anandam P. Kavoori and Todd Fraley (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006). Drawing on both popular and academic articles, this collection analyzes the larger issues surrounding media's portrayal of terrorism since 9/11. Contributers come from diverse fields--political science, media studies, architecture, and information science.

Maryland Politics and Political Communication, 1950-2005, by Theodore F. Sheckels (Lexington Books, 2006). Not a survey of all that occurred between 1950 and 2005. Rather, this book focuses on a set of interesting political events in which communication is a very important variable. These events, be they elections or episodes of governance, are also—arguably—the most dramatic ones during the period. It begins with an examination of George Wallace's 1964 and 1972 campaigns in the state's Democratic presidential primary, considers William Donald Schaefer's flamboyant communication strategies as Baltimore mayor and the vicious 1986 U.S. Senate campaign between Democrat Barbara Mikulski and Linda Chavez, and runs through the 2002 gubernatorial race between Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Robert L. Ehrlich. Sheckels highlights the similarities and differences between political communication at state and national levels and looks forward to questions and scenarios that may emerge in future elections.

People’s Movements, People’s Press: The Journalism of Social Justice Movements, by Bob Ostertag (Beacon Press, 2006). “Ostertag examines the journals and newspapers that grew out of five significant movements: abolitionism, woman suffrage, gay and lesbian issues, environmentalism, and the underground GI press during the Vietnam War. Eschewing the measurements of success standard in mainstream media, Ostertag looks at the ultimate effect of journals, for example, from William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator to the century-old Sierra to the profitable Earth First! Journal. --Vanessa Bush, Booklist, ALA

Communities of Journalism: A History of American Newspapers and Their Readers, by David Paul Nord (University of Illinois, 2006, reprint edition). "David Paul Nord is our most versatile historian of American journalism...he reads newspapers through their communities and brilliantly reads readers through their newspapers in ways original, accessible, and eye-opening." -- Michael Schudson, University of California, San Diego.

All News is Local: The Failure of the Media to Reflect World Events in a Globalized Age, by Richard Stanton (McFarland, 2007). An investigation of the 300 year old model of global journalism used by the Western news media. It argues that the framework of localization is fragile and unable to cope with the issues, events, agents and institutions of globalization that exist, and that the current model of news gathering and reporting requires rethinking.

Prologue to a Farce: Democracy and Communication in America, by Mark Lloyd (University of Illinois, 2007). Drawing on a wealth of historical sources, Lloyd demonstrates that despite the persistent hope that a new technology (from the telegraph to the Internet) will rise to serve the needs of the republic, none have solved the fundamental problems created by corporate domination. After examining failed alternatives to the strong publicly-owned communications model, such as anti-trust regulation, the public trustee rules of the Federal Communications Commission, and the under-funded public broadcasting service, Lloyd argues that we must recreate a modern version of the Founder’s communications environment, and offers concrete strategies aimed at empowering citizens.

The Culture of Al Jazeera: Inside an Arab Media Giant, by Mohamed Zayani and Sofiane Sahraoui (McFarland, 2007). In-depth look at Al Jazeera examines whether its global success reflects particular organizational strengths or whether it is merely a fad thriving on the thirst for free speech in the Middle East.

Outside the Box: Corporate Media, Globalization, and the UPS Strike, by Deepa Kumar (University of Illinois Press, 2007) Study uses over 500 news reports of the UPS strike in 1997 to show how the media represented class issues and structures.

Inscription and Erasure: Literature and Written Culture from the Eleventh to the Eighteenth Century, by Roger Chartier, translated by Arthur Goldhammer (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007). The fear of oblivion obsessed medieval and early modern Europe. Stone, wood, cloth, parchment, and paper all provided media onto which writing was inscribed as a way to ward off loss. And the task was not easy in a world in which writing could be destroyed, manuscripts lost, or books menaced with destruction. Paradoxically, the successful spread of printing posed another danger, that an uncontrollable proliferation of textual materials, of matter without order or limit, might allow useless texts to multiply and smother thought. Not everything written was destined for the archives; indeed, much was written on surfaces that allowed one to write, erase, then write again.

Food is Love: Advertising Gender Roles in Modern America, by Katherine J. Parkin (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007). "An engaging look at how food advertisements from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have both helped define and played up to the stereotypical gender roles prevalent in American culture."—Library Journal

Communication and Law: Multidisciplinary Approaches, by Amy Reynolds and Brooke Barnett (Lawrence Erlbaum, 2007). Brings together scholars from law and communication to talk both generally and specifically about the theoretical and methodological approaches one can use to study the First Amendment and general communication law issues. Intended to help graduate students and scholars at all skill levels think about new approaches to questions about communication law by offering a survey of the multidisciplinary work that is now available. Challenges the conventional notion that traditional legal research and social science methodological approaches are mutually exclusive enterprises.

Television and Public Policy: Change and Continuity in an Era of Global Liberalization, by David Ward (Lawrence Erlbaum, 2007). Analyzes the current state of television systems in a selected group of countries by exploring the political, economic, and technological factors that have shaped the sector in such a short span of time. Contributors represent countries from all areas of the world: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The Internet Audience: Constitution & Measurement, by Fernando Bermejo (Peter Lang, 2007). "Fernando Bermejo’s book makes an impressive and much-needed contribution to the development of institutionalist analyses of information media. His focus on the self-interested construction of Internet audiences through an extremely limited system of measurement and assessment helps us to understand how the development of this medium has been constrained by a concern with commoditization, rather than enablement. His is an informed analysis. Readers will benefit from the great detail and extensive documentation that Bermejo provides to support his conclusions about the nature of this deeply flawed process of social construction." --Oscar H. Gandy Jr., Emeritus Professor of Communication, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania

Media Diversity and Localism: Meaning and Metrics, edited by Philip M. Napoli (Lawrence Erlbaum, 2007). An outgrowth of a Donald McGannon Center for Communication Research conference organized in 2003, selected papers for the volume address the principles of diversity and localism and their role in communications policy from either a conceptual or empirical perspective. Contributors span a wide range of academic disciplines, including law, political science, sociology, communications, and economics.

The Internet in the Arab World: Egypt and Beyond, by Rasha A. Abdulla (Peter Lang, 2007). “…discusses how Arabs can all experience one world maybe for the first time in their long history without borders or boundaries blocking the flow of information and events and communicate with each other without censorship, through an instant communication channel, which breaks the boundaries of time and place. The Internet has presented people in the region with the opportunity to engage in conversations, discussions, and debates about issues which were previously considered taboo such as religion, women s rights, and Arab governments, among others. I believe this book is an excellent addition to the library of those interested in the Arab region. --Hussein Amin, Professor and Chair, The American University in Cairo

Media Organizations and Convergence: Case Studies of Media Convergence Pioneers, by Gracie L. Lawson-Borders (Lawrence Erlbaum, 2007). Examines technology's impact on media companies and the results of convergence among media industries, considering the effects on journalistic, business, and economic practices. Provides a brief history of media segments and their evolutions as they adapt to emerging technologies, media conglomeration, and the competitive and global changes that have occurred in the industry. Case studies include profiles of three media convergence pioneers: Tribune Company in Chicago, Media General in Richmond, and Belo Corporation in Dallas; all have incorporated convergence into their journalistic practices.

The Children’s Television Community, edited by J. Alison Bryant (Lawrence Erlbaum, 2007). Analysis of the children’s television community—the organizations, major players, and approaches to programming—and gives an overview of the history, current state, and future of children’s programming.

Critical Thinking About Sex, Love, and Romance in the Mass Media: Media Literacy Applications, edited by Mary-Lou Galician and Debra L. Merskin (Lawrence Erlbaum, 2007). Explores how romantic coupleship is represented in books, magazines, popular music, movies, television, and the Internet within entertainment, advertising, and news/information.

Webcasting Worldwide: Business Models of an Emerging Global Medium, edited by Louisa S. Ha and Richard J. Ganahl III (Lawrence Erlbaum, 2007). “A thorough examination of the business models taking shape in the online delivery of media…offers the reader a rich diversity of viewpoints and experiences from North America to Europe, Asia to the Middle East. Detailed analysis of the broadband marketplace and how it is being financed around the globe…"—John V. Pavlik, Rutgers University

Pop Modernism: Noise and the Reinvention of the Everyday, by Juan A. Suarez (University of Illinois, 2007). Drawing on a wide range of materials, including experimental movies, pop songs, photographs, and well-known poems and paintings, Pop Modernism shows that experimental art in the early twentieth century was centrally concerned with the reinvention of everyday life. In a series of clearly written, provocative, and groundbreaking essays, Juan A. Suárez demonstrates how modernist writers and artists reworked pop images and sounds, old-fashioned and factory-made objects, city spaces, and the languages and styles of queers and ethnic “others.”

Creating Images and the Psychology of Marketing Communication, edited by Lynn R. Kahle and Chung-Hyun Kim (Lawrence Erlbaum, 2007). Sections cover in-depth discussion on cross-country and tourism images, corporate and sponsorship images, individual and celebrity images, and cultural and social images. Provides a comprehensive and holistic look at the concept of image: the topics range from theories of image creative to other image studies on a country, corporate, and individual level.

Digital Storytelling: The Narrative Power of Visual Effects in Film, by Shilo T. McClean (MIT, 2007). "Overturning conventional wisdom that digital effects have taken over Hollywood and destroyed good storytelling, McClean shows that the classical art of storytelling is very much alive in contemporary film and that it shapes and motivates the use of digital effects, not vice versa. Drawing on her professional experience as a script editor and visual effects consultant, her analysis of the interplay between narrative and visual effects is sophisticated and clearly presented, and includes case studies of films such as Alien, The Lord of the Rings, and Hero. Smart, compelling, and incisive, Digital Storytelling is an essential text that will change the debate over the place of digital effects in contemporary film."--Stephen Prince, Professor of Communication, Virginia Tech

Violence in the Media and It’s Influence on Criminal Defense, by Cynthia A. Cooper (McFarland, 2007). Author examines the influence of media violence, namely “the media made me do it” defense, in the courtroom by looking at recent high profile cases.

How to Think About Information, by Dan Schiller (University of Illinois Press, 2007). The history and theory of information as a commodity in the contemporary world. "Read this book and you will never look at media convergence the same way again. By tracking business trends across media and telecom industries, Schiller demonstrates how much has been lost while citizens have been lulled by the discourses of globalization, deregulation, and the technology boom.” --Ellen Seiter, Stephen K. Nenno Professor of Television Studies, University of Southern California. "Dan Schiller is today probably the most lucid and critical scholar writing on the structure and history of communication and information systems--not just in the U.S., by the way…This work will be another significant advancement of our knowledge, informing not just academic curiosity but also how we ought to think and rethink public policy that is shaping information and media today." --Richard Maxwell, professor of media studies, Queens College, City University of New York

Picturing China in the American Press, by David D. Perlmutter (Lexington Books, 2007). Juxtaposes what the ordinary American news reader was shown visually in Time Magazine between 1949 and 1973 with contemporary perspectives on the behind-the-scenes history of the period.

Documenting Gay Men: Identity and Performance in Reality Television and Documentary Film, by Christopher Pullen (McFarland, 2007). Charts an evolution in gay identity within American reality television and documentary film. Through focusing on the performative potential of gay men, it examines the emergence of the independent gay citizen as a bold new voice rejecting subjugation within the media. Examines productions as diverse as An American Family, Tongues United, Silverlake Life, The Real World, Paternal Instinct, Trembling Before G-D, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and many others.

Wallowing in Sex: The New Sexual Culture of 1970s American Television, by Elana Levine (Duke, 2007). “From Augusten Burroughs’ literary reminiscences about a Donahue episode that informed his queer sensibilities to Levine’s own admission that she ‘re-enacted Love Boat departures from her basement steps,’ a sincere affection for the medium in that moment radiates from the book’s pages. --Karen Tongson, International Journal of Communication

Echoes of Violence: Letter from a War Reporter, by Carolin Emcke (Princeton, 2007). Der Spiegel war correspondent offers a perspective on war beyond journalistic dispatches.

The Iron Whim: A Fragmented History of Typewriting, by Darren Wershler-Henry (Cornell, 2007). “I have been waiting years for just such a book on the cultural imagination of the typewriter…. Combines historical rigor, theoretical sophistication, and an amazing breadth of literary knowledge from the canonical to the avant-garde—not to mention a palpable sense of mischievous fun. Wershler-Henry, one of today's most provocative scholars and poets, undertakes this medial archaeology with unerring precision: revealing the most surprising arcana to be central to our cultural history and making the most familiar facts of the modern writing machine seem suddenly new and strange and extravagantly unlikely. This book is necessary, intelligent, and fun.”—Craig Dworkin, University of Utah

Coming Attractions? Hollywood, High Tech, and the Future of Entertainment, by Philip E. Meza (Stanford, 2007). Discusses the history of the key forces driving the relationship between entertainment and technology today and into the future.

The Cinema of Globalization: A Guide to Films about the New Economic Order, by Tom Zaniello (Cornell, 2007). A guide to films about globalization—its origins, its relationship with colonialism, neocolonialism, the growth of migratory labor, and movements to counter or protest its adverse effects—offers readers and viewers the opportunity to both discover new films and see well-known works in a new way. From Afro@Digital to Zoolander, 201 films, including features such as The Constant Gardener, Dirty Pretty Things, and Syriana; documentaries and other nonfiction films such as Blue Vinyl, Darwin's Nightmare, and Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price; online films; and television productions. Zaniello defines the globalization broadly, including titles about: global labor and labor unions affected by globalization; global capital and multinational corporations; the transnational organizations (WB, IMF, WTO) most closely identified with globalization and global capital; labor history and the daily life of working-class people as they relate to the development of globalization; the environment directly related to changes in labor or capital; and changes in both the workplace and the corporate office in the era of multinational corporations. Each entry offers a summary of the main issues in the film and their relationship to globalization.

Negative Liberty: Public Opinion and the Terrorist Attacks on America, by Darren W. Davis (Sage, 2007). Drawing on a unique series of original public opinion surveys conducted in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and over the subsequent three years, the author documents the rapid shifts in Americans' opinions regarding the tradeoff between liberty and security.

Feedback: Television Against Democracy, by David Joselit (MIT, 2007). “Joselit describes the privatized public sphere of television and recounts the tactics developed by artists and media activists in the 1960s and 1970s to break open its closed circuit. The figures whose work Joselit examines…staged political interventions within the space of television. Joselit identifies three kinds of such image-events: feedback, which can be both disabling noise and rational response--as when Abbie Hoffman hijacked television time for the Yippies with flamboyant stunts directed to the media; the image-virus, which proliferates parasitically, invading, transforming, and even blocking systems--as in Nam June Paik's synthesized videotapes and installations; and the avatar, a quasi-fictional form of identity available to anyone, which can function as a political actor--as in Melvin Van Peebles's invention of Sweet Sweetback, an African-American hero who appealed to a broad audience and influenced styles of Black Power activism. These strategies, writes Joselit, remain valuable today in a world where the overlapping information circuits of television and the Internet offer different opportunities for democratic participation…Joselit analyzes such midcentury image-events using the procedures and categories of art history. The trope of figure/ground reversal, for instance, is used to assess acts of representation in a variety of media--including the medium of politics. In a televisual world, Joselit argues, where democracy is conducted through images, art history has the capacity to become a political science.”—Publisher’s website

Politicotainment: Television Take on the Real, by Krintina Riegert (Peter Lang, 2007). Focuses on how political life is interpreted, negotiated, and represented by television entertainment, in particular by drama series, late night comedy, and "reality-based" programs.

We Interupt This Newscast: How to Improve Local News and Win Ratings, Too, by Tom Rosenthiel, et al. (Cambridge, 2007). Presents findings from a five-year study that looked at more than 150 stations from 50 markets around the United States to counter the assumption that a local news story has to “bleed to lead,” arguing that quality of the story trumps sensationalism.

Internet Newspapers: The Making of a Mainstream Medium, by Xigen Li (Lawrence Erlbaum, 2006). I would place this book in the upper tier in terms of thinking in the field. It breaks some new ground with regard to online newspapers. It will make a significant contribution to the field, largely by providing in a single place a comprehensive and systematic look at the state of online newspapers based on empirical data...”—John V. Pavlik, Rutgers University

Third-Wave Feminism and Television: Jane Puts It in a Box, edited by Merri Lisa Johnson (I.B. Tauris/Palgrave, 2007). Demonstrate the ways in which third wave feminist television studies approaches and illuminates mainstream TV. Leading voices in third wave feminism focus on innovative US television shows, including The Sopranos, Oz, Six Feet Under, The L Word and the reality-TV show The Bachelor to take a closer look at the contradictions and reciprocities between feminism and television, engaging as they go in theoretical and critical conversations about media culture, third wave feminism, feminist spectatorship, the sex wars, and the politics of visual pleasure.

Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture, by Tarleton Gillespie (MIT, 2007). “Essential for those who care about the future of digital technologies and information flows. The societal implications of digital rights management technologies have never been explored this deeply or comprehensively. DRM technologies are neither technological nor economic imperatives, and Gillespie shows that their social costs are avoidable. Bravo!" -- Pamela Samuelson, Professor of Law & Information, University of California, Berkeley

American Carnival: Journalism Under Seige in an Age of New Media, by Neil Henry (University of California, 2007). Confronts the crisis facing professional journalism in this era of rapid technological transformation…combines elements of memoir with extensive media research to explore critical contemporary issues ranging from reporting on the Iraq War, to American race relations, to the exploitation of the image of journalism by advertisers and politicians. Drawing on significant currents in U.S. media and social history, Henry argues that, given the amount of fraud in many institutions in American life today, the decline of journalistic professionalism sparked by the economic challenge of New Media poses especially serious implications for democracy.

When the Press Fails: Political Power and the News Media from Iraq to Katrina, by Lance Bennett, Regina Lawrence, and Steven Livingston (University of Chicago Press, 2007). Table of Contents Introduction: The Press and Power; 1) Press Politics in America: The Case of the Iraq War; 2) The Semi-Independent Press: A Theory of News and Democracy; 3) None Dare Call It Torture: Abu Ghraib and the Inner Workings of Press Dependence; 4) The News Reality Filter: Why It Matters When the Press Fails; 5) Managing The News: Spin, Status, and Intimidation in the Washington Political Culture; 6) Toward an Independent Press: A Standard for Public Accountability; Appendix A: Evidence Suggesting a Connection between Abu Ghraib and U.S. Torture Policy; Appendix B: Methods for Analyzing the News Framing of Abu Ghraib; Appendix C: Further Findings from the Content Analysis.

From Rural Village to Global Village: Telecommunications for Development in the Information Age, by Heather E. Hudson (Lawrence Erlbaum, 2006). Includes case studies demonstrating innovative applications of ICTs, plus chapters on evaluation strategies and appropriate technologies.

Shaping American Telecommunications: A History of Technology, Policy, and Economics, by Christopher H. Sterling, et al. (Lawrence Erlbaum, 2006). Examines the technical, regulatory, and economic forces that have shaped the development of American telecommunications services. This volume is both an introduction to the basic technical, economic, and regulatory principles underlying telecommunications, and a detailed account of major events that have marked development of the sector in the United States. Beginning with the introduction of the telegraph and continuing through to current developments in wireless and online services, the authors explain each stage of telecommunications development, examining the interplay among technical innovation, policy decisions, and regulatory developments.

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