Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fall 2010 Booknotes

American Science Fiction Film and Television, edited by Lincoln Geraghty (Oxford, 2009). “Using both film and television, Geraghty deftly explores the ways science fiction has debated US ideologies and ideals over recent decades. This book examines science fiction as American, charting changes in the social and political ‘real’ and in the entertainment industry right up to the twenty-first century.” --Lorna Jowett, University of Northampton

Baroque Horrors: Roots of the Fantastic in the Age of Curiosities, by David R. Castillo (University of Michigan, 2010). “Turns the current cultural and political conversation from the familiar narrative patterns and self-justifying allegories of abjection to a dialogue on the history of our modern fears and their monstrous offspring. When life and death are severed from nature and history, "reality" and "authenticity" may be experienced as spectator sports and staged attractions, as in the "real lives" captured by reality TV and the "authentic cadavers" displayed around the world in the Body Worlds exhibitions. Rather than thinking of virtual reality and staged authenticity as recent developments of the postmodern age, Castillo looks back to the Spanish baroque period in search for the roots of the commodification of nature and the horror vacui that accompanies it.” –Publisher’s description

Bitten by Twilight: Youth Culture, Media, and the Vampire Franchise, edited by Melissa A. Click, Jennifer Stevens Aubrey, and Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz (Peter Lang Publishing, 2010). Essays on the novels, films, and fan culture of the Twilight saga; topics include race and ethnicity in the series, and fans' responses to romantic elements.

Black Dogs and Blue Words, by Kimberly K. Emmons (Rutgers, 2010). "Through finely nuanced rhetorical analysis, Emmons reveals and dissects the mechanisms and social performances by which women suffering from depression are identified, constrained, and constructed by their physicians, their drug companies, the media, and even by women’s own discourses. ..Provides [to the medical humanities communities] a remarkable set of tools for examining the discursive practices of medicine and of medical humanities itself, and to sufferers of depression, Emmons’ work may provide considerable relief."--Charles M. Anderson, executive editor, Literature and Medicine

The Culture of Diagram, by John Bender and Michael Marrinan (Stanford University Press, 2010). "In what its authors call an 'archaeology of diagram,' this…book offers a radical reinterpretation of the processes through which modern vision emerged. Taking as its principal topic the remarkable plates of the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d'Alembert, the analysis shows convincingly that these were working objects artfully designed to offer their users many different pathways and opportunities for making sense of their world. Against traditions that stress the classical power of singular perspective and the analytic gaze, the book urges that it was the startling and often disturbing juxtaposition of heterogeneous components, of description, delineation, and text, that allowed for and eventually compelled the possibility of simultaneous but conflicted patterns of vision and sense…Concluding discussions carry the narrative through the probabilistic physics and the photographic iconography of nineteenth-century culture to the reorganization of vision and experience involved in the establishment of quantum theory and associated innovations of high modernity."—Simon Schaffer, University of Cambridge

Daring to Feel: Violence, the News Media, and their Emotions, edited by Jody Santos (Lexington Books, 2009). “…challenges the entrenched doctrine that journalists are neutral, dispassionate observers of "fact." Santos demonstrates how journalists themselves and society as a whole benefit from emotionally nuanced and emotionally engaged reporting.” —Rebecca Campbell, Michigan State University

Diasporas in the New Media Age: Identity, Politics, and Community, edited by Andoni Alonso and Pedro J. Oiarzabal (University of Nevada, 2010) “The first book-length examination of the social use of these technologies by emigrants and diasporas around the world. The eighteen original essays in the book explore the personal, familial, and social impact of modern communication technology on populations of European, Asian, African, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, and Latin American emigrants. It also looks at the role and transformation of such concepts as identity, nation, culture, and community in the era of information technology and economic globalization. The contributors, who represent a number of disciplines and national origins, also take a range of approaches--empirical, theoretical, and rhetorical--and combine case studies with thoughtful analysis.” –Publisher’s description

Disney, Pixar, and the Hidden Messages of Children’s Films, edited by M. Keith Booker (Praeger 2010). “Recaps the entire history of movies for young viewers—from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to this year’s Up—then focuses on the extraordinary output of children's films in the last two decades. What Booker finds is that by and large, their lessons are decidedly, comfortably mainstream and any political subtext more often than not is inadvertent. Booker also offers some advice to parents for helping children read films in a more sophisticated way.” –Publisher’s description

Doing News Framing Analysis: Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives, edited by Paul D’ Angelo and Jim A. Kuypers (Routeledge, 2010). “Presents original, ‘big picture’ articles about news framing. The editors' goals are to acknowledge the integrationist impulses that propel the use of different theoretical and methodological approaches and to provide interpretive guides to the community of news framing scholars and interested readers regarding what news frames are, how they can be observed in news texts.” –Publisher’s description

Education and the Culture of Print in Modern America, edited by Adam R. Nelson and John L. Rudolph (University of Wisconsin, 2010). “The nine essays examine ‘how print educates’ in settings as diverse as depression-era work camps, religious training, and broadcast television—all the while revealing the enduring tensions that exist among the controlling interests of print producers and consumers. This volume exposes what counts as education in American society and the many contexts in which education and print intersect.” –Publisher’s description

Feminist Research Methodology: Making Meanings of Meaning-making, edited by Maithree Wickramasinghe (London, New York, Routledge, 2010). “Using this South Asian country as a case study, the author looks at the means by which researchers in this field inhabit, engage with and represent the multiple realities of women and society in Sri Lanka. In analysing what constitutes feminist research methodology in a transitional country, the book links local research practices with Western feminist approaches, taking into account the commonalities, distinctions and specificities of working in a South Asian context.” –Publisher’s description

Hannah Arendt, Totalitarianism, and the Social Sciences, by Peter Baehr (Stanford University Press, 2010). Explores the German-born philosopher's critique of the social sciences, which she argued had misunderstood totalitarianism.

Media and Identity in Africa, by Kimani Njogu and John Middleton (Indiana, 2010). Focused on Sub-Saharan Africa, this book discusses the construction of old and new social entities defined by class, gender, ethnicity, political and economic differences, wealth, poverty, cultural behavior, language, and religion, addresses the tensions between the global and the local that have inspired creative control and use of traditional and modern forms of media.

Media Houses: Architecture, Media, and the Production of Centrality (Peter Lang, 2010). “In much recent theory, the media are described as ephemeral, ubiquitous, and de-localized. Yet the activity of modern media can be traced to spatial centers that are tangible enough some even monumental. This book offers multidisciplinary and historical perspectives on the buildings of some of the worlds major media institutions. Paradoxically, as material and aesthetic manifestations of mediated centers of power, they provide sites to the siteless and solidity to the immaterial. The authors analyse the ways that architectural form and organization reflect different eras, media technologies, ideologies, and relations with the public in media houses from New York and Silicon Valley to London, Moscow, and Beijing.” –Publisher’s description

Music and Media in the Arab World, edited by Michael Frishkopf. (American University in Cairo Press, 2010). “Authors address the key issues of contemporary Arab society—gender and sexuality, Islam, class, economy, power, and nation—as refracted through the culture of mediated music.” –Publisher’s description

Negotiating in the Press: American Journalism and Diplomacy, 1918-1919, edited by Joseph R. Hayden (Louisiana State University Press, 2010). “Negotiating in the Press offers a new interpretation of an otherwise dark moment in American journalism. Rather than emphasize the familiar story of lost journalistic freedom during World War I, Joseph R. Hayden describes the press’s newfound power in the war’s aftermath—that seminal moment when journalists discovered their ability to help broker peace talks. He examines the role of the American press at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, looking at journalists’ influence on the peace process and their relationship to heads of state and other delegation members. Challenging prevailing historical accounts that assume the press was peripheral to the quest for peace, Hayden demonstrates that journalists instead played an integral part in the talks, by serving’s ‘public ambassadors.’ –Publisher’s description

Networked Wilderness: Communicating in Early New England, edited by Matte Cohen (University of Minnesota Press, 2010). “Examines communications systems in early New England and finds that, surprisingly, struggles over information technology were as important as theology, guns, germs, or steel in shaping the early colonization of North America. Colonists in New England have generally been viewed as immersed in a Protestant culture of piety and alphabetic literacy. At the same time, many scholars have insisted that the culture of the indigenous peoples of the region was a predominantly oral culture. But what if, Cohen posits, we thought about media and technology beyond the terms of orality and literacy?” –Publisher’s description

Painting the City Red: Chinese Cinema and the Urban Contract, by Yomi Braester (Duke University Press, 2010. Analyzes links between visual media and urban development in China and Taiwan.

Pen and the Sword: Press, War, and Terror in the 21st Century, edited by Calvin F. Exoo (Sage, 2010). How the media has covered post-9/11 terrorism and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Piracy: the Intellectual Property Wars from Guttenberg to Gates, edited by Adrian Johns (University of Chicago Press, 2009). "Argues that piracy is a cultural force that has driven the development of intellectual-property law, politics, and practices. As copying technologies have advanced, from the invention of printing in the sixteenth century to the present, acts of piracy have shaped endeavors from scientific publishing to pharmaceuticals and software. . . . Johns suggests, counter-intuitively, that piracy can promote the development of technology. The resulting competition forces legitimate innovators to maneuver for advantage—by moving quickly, using technical countermeasures or banding together and promoting reputation as an indicator of quality, such as through trademarks. . . . The exclusive rights granted by intellectual-property laws are always being reshaped by public opinion, and accused pirates have lobbied against these laws for centuries." —Michael Gollin, Nature

Refiguring Mass Communication: A History, by Peter Simonson (University of Illinois, 2010). “Compares his own vision of mass communication with distinct views articulated throughout history by Paul of Tarsus, Walt Whitman, Charles Horton Cooley, David Sarnoff, and Robert K. Merton, utilizing a collection of texts and tenets from a variety of time periods and perspectives. Drawing on textual and archival research as well as access to Merton's personal papers, Simonson broadly reconceives a sense of communication theory and what social processes might be considered species of mass communication.” –Publisher’s description

Segregating Sound: Inventing Folk and Pop Music in the Age of Jim Crow, by Karl Hagstrom Miller (Duke University Press, 2010). Describes how folklorists and the music industry created a "color line" in what were once overlapping forms played by black and white musicians alike.

The Shock of the News: Media Coverage and the Making of 9/11 by Brian A. Monahan (New York University Press, 2010). A study of how the mass media processed and packaged the terrorist attacks.

Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and other Media Paratexts, edited by Jonathan Gray (New York University Press, 2010). "…will rewrite the rules of what we look at when we want to understand how audiences make meaning of media franchises. Gray, who has long established himself in the top ranks of contemporary scholars of popular culture, writes with particularity about these varied media properties and their paratexts, yet also writes with a theoretical sophistication which feels effortless." --Henry Jenkins, University of Southern California

Social Marketing for Public Health: Global Trends and Success Stories, edited by Hong Cheng, Philip Kotler and Nancy R. Lee (Jones and Bartlett, 2011). “Explores how traditional marketing principles and techniques are being used to increase the effectiveness of public health programs around the world. While addressing the global issues and trends in social marketing, the book highlights successful health behavior change campaigns launched by governments, by a combination of governments, NGOs, and businesses, or by citizens themselves in 15 countries of five continents. Each chapter examines a unique, current success story, ranging from anti-smoking campaigns to HIV-AIDS prevention; from promotions for health lifestyle to battles against obesity; and from public educational campaigns on hepatitis B to contraceptive social marketing.” –Publisher’s description

Television and the Legal System, edited by Barbara Villez (Routledge, 2010). “Examines the American television legal series from its development as a genre in the 1940s to the present day. Villez demonstrates how the genre has been a rich source of legal information and understanding for Americans. These series have both informed and put myths in place about the legal system in the US. Villez also contrasts the US to France, which has seen a similar interest in legal series during this period.”—Publisher’s description

Telling Stories: Language Narrative and Social Life edited by Deborah Schiffrin, Anna de Fina, and Anastasia Nylund (Georgetown University Press, 2010). Essays on how narrative, including life stories, figure in people's everyday interactions; topics include storytelling in family "ceremonial" dinners.

The Warcraft Civilization: Social Science in a Virtual World, by William Sims Bainbridge (MIT, 2010). "Bainbridge provides the best analysis to date of the way WoW and similar new media forms, with their millions and millions of users, are reshaping central aspects of our culture: groups, religion, economy, education, and more." —Edward Castronova, Professor of Telecommunications, Indiana University

Watching YouTube: Extraordinary Videos by Ordinary People, by Michael Strangelove (University of Toronto, 2010). The author “provides a broad overview of the world of amateur online videos and the people who make them. Dr. Strangelove, the Governor General Literary Award-nominated author that Wired Magazine called a 'guru of Internet advertising,' describes how online digital video is both similar to and different from traditional home-movie-making and argues that we are moving into a post-television era characterized by mass participation. Strangelove draws from television, film, cultural, and media studies to help define an entirely new field of research.” –Publisher’s description

Winning the Silicon Sweepstakes: Can the United States Compete in Global Telecommunications? by Rob Frieden (Yale University Press, 2010). Argues that unlike its peers, the U.S. government has favored policies and a regulatory regime that has hindered innovation and tipped the scales in favor of established companies.

Wire: Urban Decay and American Television, edited by Tiffany Potter and C.W. Marshall (Continuum, 2009). “By focusing on four main topics (Crime, Law Enforcement, America, and Television), The Wire: Urban Decay and American Television examines the series’ place within popular culture and its representation of the realities of inner city life, social institutions, and politics in contemporary American society.” –Publisher’s description

Women as Weapons of War: Iraq, Sex, and Media, by Kelly Oliver (Columbia, 2010). "Offers a … feminist critique of the recent ways in which 'women' have been used, once again, as the terrain and flesh over which to fight yet another war. At stake in this war is also the future of feminism. Challenging the bunker rhetoric coming out of Washington that combines a noxious mixture of anti-Arab racism with the latest version of the white men's burden to save women from pre-modern cultures, Oliver offers an eloquent plea for the continuing relevance of feminist ways of interpreting the world." -- Eduardo Mendieta, Stony Brook University


Monday, August 23, 2010

Digital Future Report

The Center for the Digital Future at USC's Annenberg School has just released the ninth report of it's Surveying the Digital Future, The Digital Future Project 2010, "nine years of longitudinal research compris[ing] an absolutely unique data base that completely captures broadband at home, the wireless Internet, on-line media, user-generated content and social networking. As usual, the report continues to track off-line media use, purchasing both off-line and through e-commerce, social and political activity and a wealth of other data."

You can access summary data at the site or avail yourself of the whole 203- page report in the ASC Library.
Among the study's findings:
* Americans on the Internet -- For the first time, the Internet is used by more than 80 percent of Americans -- now 82 percent.
* Weekly hours online -- The average time online has now reached 19 hours per week. Although more than two-thirds of Americans have gone online for a decade, the largest year-to-year increases in weekly online use have been reported in the two most recent Digital Future studies.
* Gaps in Internet use in age groups -- Not surprisingly, Internet use continues to increase as age decreases, with 100 percent of those under age 24 going online. However, a surprisingly high percentage of Americans between 36 and 55 are not Internet users: among respondents age 46 to 55, 19 percent are non-users; among those 36 to 45, 15 percent are non-users.
* Low adoption of new media -- Although new media is used by large percentages of Internet users age 24 and under, overall large percentages of Internet users never go online to do instant messaging (50 percent), work on a blog (79 percent), participate in chat rooms (80 percent), or make or receive phone calls (85 percent).
* Does technology make the world a better place -- The percentage of users age 16 and older who said that communication technology makes the world a better place has declined to 56 percent of users from its peak of 66 percent in 2002.
* Internet and Political Campaigns -- although more than 70 percent of users agree that the Internet is important for political campaigns, only 27 percent of users said that by using the Internet public officials will care more about what people think, and 29 percent said that the Internet can give people more of a say in what government does.
* Buying online -- 65 percent of adult Internet users buy online (the same as in 2008), and make an average of 35.2 purchases per year (up from 34.1 per year in 2008).
* Internet impact on traditional retail declines -- 61 percent of Internet users said that online purchasing has reduced their buying in traditional retail stores -- down from 69 percent in 2008.
* Top 10 online purchases -- 59 percent of Internet users said they purchase books or clothes online, followed by gifts (55 percent), travel (53 percent), electronics/appliances (47 percent), videos (46 percent), computers or peripherals (41 percent), software or games (40 percent), CDs (40 percent), and products for hobbies (38 percent).

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Friday, August 06, 2010

August CommQuote

The Mr. Cogito (Pan Cogito) poems of Polish poet, Zbigniew Herbert are among his most intriguing. Lucky for CommPilings, Mr. Cogito reads the newspaper. But first a little insight into his character:

… Both from the stylistic and from the grammatical point of view, Mr. Cogito is a combination of the self and others. This ambiguity reflects the major philosophical theme of the volume [Pan Cogito]: man’s identity and the problem of his relationship to others. In reply to a letter inquiring about Mr. Cogito, Herbert wrote the following: “As for Mr. Cogito – well, if I knew exactly myself? In any case it is neither a persona nor a mask, but rather … a method … An attempt to isolate, to ‘objectify’ what is shameful, individual, and subjective" ...Mr. Cogito is clearly a little man and some have called him petty. His concerns are frequently ordinary and practical; he enjoys reading sensational newspaper articles, he tries transcendental meditation and fails, his stream of consciousness brings up detritus like a tin can, he needs advice and so on. ...Mr. Cogito is a device allowing Herbert to admit this ordinariness we all share, to establish it and, once this is done, to build upon it. Herbert wants to underline ordinariness and imperfection because he wants to deal with practical, not transcendent, morality.

--Carpenter, Bogdana, and John Carpenter. "Recent Poetry of Zbigniew Herbert." World Literature Today 51.2 (Spring,1977): 213.

Mr. Cogito Reads the Newspaper

by Zbigniew Herbert

On the first page
a report of the killing of 120 soldiers
the war lasted a long time
you could get used to it

close alongside
the news of a sensational crime
with a portrait of the murderer

the eye of Mr Cogito
slips indifferently
over the soldiers’ hecatomb
to plunge with delight
into the description of everyday horror

a thirty-year-old farm labourer
under the stress of nervous depression
killed his wife
and two small children

it is described with precision
the course of the murder
the position of the bodies
and other details

for 120 dead
you search on a map in vain

too great a distance
covers them like a jungle

they don’t speak to the imagination
there are too many of them
the numeral zero at the end
changes them into an abstraction

a subject for meditation:
the arithmetic of compassion

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Introducing the George Gerbner Archive

The Annenberg Library is pleased to announce the opening of the George Gerbner Archive to communications students and researchers at Penn and around the world. George Gerbner was the second dean of The Annenberg School for Communication from 1964-1989 and one of the pioneering founders of the field of Communication as a scholarly pursuit. As Joseph Turow, the Robert Lewis Shayon Professor of Communication, writing for Americana in 2006 explains:
[George]Gerbner believed it was crucial to understand the social impact of these mass-produced daydreams [television fiction] because they likely influenced the hierarchy of values as they developed in our minds, particularly in the minds of young people. The key was not to dwell on the positive or negative aspects of individual television shows, movies or songs. Instead, Gerbner insisted, because popular culture is mass-produced, it should be analyzed as a system of industrially patterned, rather than idiosyncratic or artistic, messages. With the "message system" as a central concept, communication research should pursue three fundamental goals: explore the forces that shape the pattern of messages; examine the overall nature of those message patterns; and understand the social roles or functions that those patterns play in society.
-- Industrial Folklore George Gerbner's (Tele)Vision, Americana, Summer 2006
The George Gerbner Archive consists of personal correspondence, research and administrative materials, reports, publications, news clippings, photographs, and memorabilia related to George Gerbner (1916-2006) and his work as a world-renowned media scholar and dean of the Annenberg School. The collection is rich in material concerning the Cultural Indicators Project, Gerbner’s pioneering analysis of television violence and cultivation theory, and the Cultural Environment Movement, a media advocacy organization founded by Gerbner in 1991.

The collection was donated to the Annenberg School in 2006 by Gerbner’s sons, John and Thomas. The collection reflects Gerbner’s prodigious research agenda and leadership as a scholar, administrator, and activist over a period of four decades. The collection consists of the following series: Biography, Cultural Indicators Project, Cultural Environmental Movement, Publications, Correspondence, Instructional Materials, Clippings, Photographs, Unpublished Materials, and Secondary Publications.

Appointments can be made to view materials that are not available online by contacting the Annenberg Library.

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