Winter/Spring Booknotes

The Aesthetics of Violence in Contemporary Media, by Gwyn Symonds (Continuum, 2008). “Uses existing studies for the empirical audience reception data combined with discussions of the different representations of violence to look at violence in the media as an art form of its own. Looking at “The Simpsons,” “Bowling for Columbine” and Norma Khouri’s “Forbidden Love,” to name a few.” –Publisher’s description

Arabs in the Mirror: Images and Self-Images from Pre-Islamic to Modern Times, by Nissim Rejwan (University of Texas, 2008). The author has assembled a collection of writings by Arab and Western intellectuals, who try to define what it means to be Arab. He begins with pre-Islamic times and continues to the last decades of the twentieth century, quoting thinkers ranging from Ibn Khaldun to modern writers such as al-Ansari, Haykal, Ahmad Amin, al-‘Azm, and Said. Through their works, Rejwan shows how Arabs have grappled with such significant issues as the influence of Islam, the rise of nationalism, the quest for democracy, women’s status, the younger generation, Egypt’s place in the Arab world, Israel’s role in Middle Eastern conflict, and the West’s ‘cultural invasion.’”—Publisher’s website

Asian Americans and the Media, by Kent A. Ono (Polity Press, 2009). “Offers us the much needed critical tools, terminology, and historical framework for reading, deconstructing, and intervening in the politics of ambivalent representation of Asian Americans across a wide range of old and new media, from silent films to YouTube.” –Elena Tajima Creef, Wellesley College

The Big Picture: Why Democracies Need Journalistic Excellence, by Jeffrey Scheuer (Routledge, 2008). “Explores journalistic excellence from three broad perspectives. First, from the democratic perspective, he shows how journalism is a core democratic function, and journalistic excellence a core democratic value. Then, from an intellectual perspective, he explores the ways in which journalism addresses basic concepts of truth, knowledge, objectivity, and ideology. Finally, from an institutional perspective, he considers the role and possible future of journalism education, the importance of journalistic independence, and the potential for nonprofit journalism to meet the journalistic needs of a democratic society.” –Publisher’s description


Brand New China: Advertising, Media, and Commercial Culture
, by Jing Wang (Harvard, 2008). “Few have gone as far as Jing Wang in combining marketing research with cultural analysis, and no other author has provided as detailed, penetrating, and up-to-date a portrayal of the processes of transnational advertising and marketing in China.”–Yuezhi Zhao, author of Communication in China: Political Economy, Power and Conflict

Broadcast and Internet Indecency: Defining Free Speech
, by Jeremy Harris Lipshultz (Routledge, 2008). Examines broadcast and Internet indecency from legal and social perspectives, utilizing current cases and well-publicized examples.

Celluloid Deities: The Visual Culture of Cinema and Politics in South India, by Preminda Jacob (Lexingtong Books, 2008). “…Study of film hoardings and cutout figures in Chennai, South India…fine-grained analysis of these spectacular hand-painted ephemera makes visible a ‘temporal network between cinematic spectacle and religious vision, charisma and public culture, and commerce and art.” –Ajay Sinha, Mount Holyyoke College

Conspiracy Theory in Film, Television, and Politics, by Gordon B. Arnold (Praeger Publishers, 2008). Considers how films and other media have both shaped and reflected notions of conspiracy in American society.

Controversial Cinema: The Films That Outraged America, by Kendall, R. Phillips (Praeger, 2008). Highly readable analysis of four broad areas of controversy, the usual suspects: sex and sexuality, violence, race, and religion and the related debate-sparking films: The Silence of the Lambs, Natural Born Killers, Do the Right Thing, and The Passion of the Christ.

Death Row Women: Murder, Justice, and the New York Press
, by Mark Gado (Praeger, 2008). “Using a small but rich data set to write about an obscure research topic, former New York police detective and federal DEA agent Gado provides insight into contemporary practices associated with punishment, media, and the way social institutions interact to justify capital punishment. He discusses in detail the stories of six women executed in New York’s Sing Sing prison. Media accounts from the era in which these women were accused, tried, and eventually executed lead readers to question the media’s true intent. Referring to headlines, selective facts, colorful nicknames, and wild exaggerations, Gado describes how these women, their crimes, and the state response were socially constructed.” –Choice

Democratic Communications: Formations, Projects, Possibilities, by James F. Hamilton (Lexington Books, 2008). The traditional lines between mainstream and alternative and between producers and consumers have been blurred. Using a comprehensively argued cultural and historical analysis, the book rethinks long-standing assumptions about alternative media and democratic communications. By providing greater understanding of historical resources, limitations, and possibilities, this book makes a key contribution not only to scholarship in this area, but also to this pressing social, political, and cultural issue.

Digital Storytelling, Mediatized Stories: Self-Representations in New Media, edited by Knut Lundby (Peter Lang Publishing, 2009). “Recent years have seen amateur personal stories, focusing on me, flourish on social networking sites and in digital storytelling workshops. The resulting digital stories could be called mediatized stories. This book deals with these self-representational stories, aiming to understand the transformations in the age-old practice of storytelling that have become possible with the new, digital media. Its approach is interdisciplinary, exploring how the mediation or mediatization processes of digital storytelling can be grasped and offering a sociological perspective of media studies and a socio-cultural take of the educational sciences.” –Publisher’s description

Electronic Tribes: The Virtual Worlds of Geeks, Gamers, Shamans, and Scammers
, edited by Tyrone L. Adams and Stephen A. Smith. (University of Texas, 2008). “The major contribution of this book is that the idea of ‘tribe’ is fully and robustly explicated in ways that challenge existing wisdom, particularly the idea that Internet users are best understood as communities…international perspective [that includes] a surprising array of subcultures.” –H. L. Goodall Jr., Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University

Embedded Thinking, by Zsuzsanna Kondor (Peter Lang Publishing, 2008). “The new devices of communication that have recently been emerging have far-reaching effects not only on our everyday lives, but also on our cognitive patterns: they lead us back again into the world of multimodality, and call attention, not incidentally, to the widening gap between everyday experience and the traditional convictions of philosophy. Traditional philosophical inquiries are seen in a new light when viewed from the perspective of communications technology. From that perspective, it becomes clear that a radical turn has become inevitable in the field of metaphysics and epistemology. This volume attempts to provide building-blocks for the new edifice of philosophy towards which that turn is leading.”—Publisher’s website

From Iron Fist to Invisible Hand: The Uneven Path of Telecommunications Reform in China, by Irene S. Wu (Stanford, 2008).”Uses telecommunications policy as a window to examine major contradictions in China’s growth as an economic and political superpower. While China policy analysts wonder why the government occasionally restrains growth and raises prices, technologists marvel at how the telecommunications industry continues to grow enormously despite constraints and unpredictability in the market. ..Provides six policy-focused case studies, each centered on a question with implications for telecom stakeholders…These cases explain the government’s liberal and conservative approach toward reform, the policies that both promote and constrain business, and the major hurdles that lie ahead in telecommunications reform.” –Publisher’s website

Global Indigenous Media: Cultures, Poetics, and Politics, edited by Pamela Wilson and Michelle Stewart (Duke University Press, 2008). Scholars and activists observe how indigenous people around the world have used media to express themselves and their struggles.

Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages, by Alex Wright (Cornell, 2008).
“Penetrating and highly entertaining meditation of our information age and its historical roots.” –Los Angeles Times

Hegemony in the Digital Age: The Arab/Israeli Conflict Online, by Stephen Marmura (Lexington books, 2008). Detailed analysis of web postings of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish fundamentalist groups in their effort to mobilize support amongst their own as well as in the world, especially in the United States.

Journalism and Political Democracy, by Carolina Matos (Lexington Books, 2008). The role of the mass media during the Braziliian democratization process in the 1980s and 1990s.

Lesbians in Television and Text after the Millennium, by Rebecca Beirne (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008). Media discussed include The L Word, the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, and lesbian-produced pornography.

The Making of FDR: The Story of Stephen T. Early, America’s First Modern Press Secretary, by Linda L. Levin (Prometheus, 2008). Journalist Linda Lotridge Levin documents how Early remade what had been just a routine White House briefing function into the modern high-visibility role of today’s presidential press secretary. A highly respected Associated Press reporter, Early launched a breathtaking reorganization of the way government informed the public. For the first time, the president held two news conferences a week. Under Early’s guidance, the press evolved from just print journalism into the use of radio and newsreels, so he was the first press secretary to have the luxury and the frustrations of dealing with both broadcast and print media on a daily basis. Among his most important contributions, Early helped the president create the famous “Fireside Chats,” –Publisher’s website

No Time to Think: The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-Hour News Cycle, by Howard Rosenberg and Charles Feldman (Continuum, 2008). “The faster we feed the mass media beast, the faster it devours us. Step back, read Rosenberg & Feldman, then step even further back and start thinking how to save yourselves and democracy from the tsunami of blarney, blather, and bathos that passes as news today.” – Bill Moyers

The Oprah Affect: Critical Essays on Oprah’s Book Club, edited by Cecilia Konchar Farr and Jaime Harker (State University of New York Press, 2008). “This collection is important not only for those interested in Oprah’s Book Club, but also for [those] interested in contemporary reading practices and, in particular, the sociology of literature. The theoretical foundations found in the various essays are wide-ranging, and the research methods used and discussed illustrate the exciting potential of reading scholarship.” –DeNel Rehberg Sedo, Mount Saint Vincent University

Philosophies of Communication: Implications for Everyday Experience
, edited by Melissa A. Cook and Annette M. Holba (Peter Lang Publishing, 2008). “Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the contributors build from classical critical assessment of oration and current understanding of how philosophy, rhetoric and ethics work together to create communication. They consider the ethics of the schadenfreude, political communication and celebrity advocacy, ethical dialog in the classroom, narrative identity and public memory (with Morocco as a case study), constructive rhetorical approaches to contemporary public relations practice, narratives in communications practices of interpretation for the ethical deliberation of contentious organizations, a unity of contraries within interpersonal communications, and the engagement of the rhetorical consciousness in an organization for dynamic communication exchange.” –Publisher’s website

A Political History of Journalism, by Geraldine Muhlmann (Polity, 2008). “This is a stimulating and deeply intelligent book, full of striking insights into landmarks in the journalistic history of Britain, France, and the US. …the most sophisticated inquiry I know into the complexity of a serious journalist’s two enduring problems: how to find a relation to events in which they are not flattened into false familiarity, and a relation to readers in which they are not seduced into false consensus.” –Todd Gitlin, Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University

Post-Transcendental Communication: Contexts of Human Autonomy, by Colin B. Grant (Peter Lang Publishing, 2008). Table of Contents: History of communication theory – The appeal of communication – Errors in transmission: information and meaning – Communication and autonomy – Interactivity – Multiple meanings, multiple readings – Power, communication, control – Detranscendentalising understanding.

Reading Japan Cool: Patterns of Manga Literacy and Discourse
, by John E. Ingulsrud and Kate Allen (Lexington Books, 2009). Audience study of the consumers of Japanese animation, video games and manga from around the world.

Searching Eyes: Privacy, the State, and Disease Surveillance in America, by Amy L. Fairchild and Ronald Bayer (University of California Press, 2007). “Public health surveillance is framed as a social practice that is embedded within particular contexts rather than as a purely technical undertaking insulated from politics, law, economics, ethics, and societal forces. The authors cite encounters with tuberculosis (TB), syphilis, HIV/AIDS, and immunization registry efforts to illustrate the pervasive tension in disease surveillance activities that has existed between privacy and the welfare of society since the inception of surveillance in the 19th century.” –Kathleen F. Gensheimer, Maine Department of Health and Human Services

Taking South Park Seriously, edited by Andrew Weinstock (State University of New York Press, 2008). Essays on the cultural meaning and impact of the television show.

Television, Power, and the Public in Russia, by Ellen Mickiewicz (Cambridge, 2008). “This focus group based study of Russian television audiences presents a superb analysis of the many ways in which diverse life circumstances alter television’s impact on viewers. It also provides fascinating insights into ordinary citizens’ perceptions of life, politics, and the mass media in contemporary Russia, using U.S. news media and politics as a foil for comparison. This is essential reading for comparativists, political psychologists, and mass media scholars.” –Doris Graber, University of Illinois at Chicago

Transnational Media Events: The Mohammed Cartoons and the Imagine Clash of Civilizations
, edited by Elisabeth Eide, Risto Kunelius, and Angela Phillips (Nordicom, 2009). Lessons learned and questions raised by leading media researchers on media coverage of the Mohammed cartoons in 16 countries.

Triumph of Order: Democracy and Public Space in New York and London
, by Lisa Keller (Columbia University Press, 2008). “In an effort to create a secure urban environment in which residents can work, live, and prosper with minimal disruption, New York and London established a network of laws, policing, and municipal government in the nineteenth century aimed at building the confidence of the citizenry and creating stability for economic growth. At the same time, these two world cities attempted to maintain an expansive level of free speech and assembly, concepts deeply ingrained in both national cultures. As democracy expanded in tandem with the size of the cities themselves, the two goals clashed, resulting in tensions over their compatibility.” –Publisher’s website

TV: Sixty Years of Teachers on Television, by Mary M. Dalton and Laura R. Linder (Peter Lang Publishing, 2009). Analyzes depictions of teachers since Mister Peepers and Our Miss Brooks in the 1950s.

TV Drama in China,
edited by Ying Zhu, Michael Keane, and Ruoyun Bai (University of Washington Press, 2009). “This collection of essays brings together the first comprehensive study of TV drama in China. Examining in depth the production, distribution, and consumption of TV drama, an international team of experts demonstrate why it remains the pre-eminent media form in China. The collection explores industry dynamics, how TV dramas are marketed and consumed on DVD, and China’s aspirations to export its television drama rights” –Publishers’ website

Urban Communication Reader, edited by Gene Burd, Susan J. Drucker, and Gary Gumpert (Hampton Press, 2007). “Explores the contemporary city and suburb and its changing nature as seen through the eyes of a group of interdisciplinary communication scholars. It explores the nature of community and neighborhood in an age of communication change. It focuses on social interaction from the ball park to the cyberpark, from the civic plaza to the electronic meeting place, from architecture and design and its communicative function to the Wi-fi as a public convenience available without regard to place. The Reader covers three general areas: perspectives on history, philosophy, and methods of research on cities; cases of contested urban places and spaces; and regional and global urban communication patterns.”—Publisher’s description

A Word from Our Viewers: Reflections From Early Television Audiences (Praeger, 2008). “Explores the early decades of television, from the 1930s to the 1960s, as recollected by an array of veteran viewers. The text examines how people watched, including the early models of TV receivers and paraphernalia, TV-viewing behaviors and protocols; the types of programs they watched such as variety and drama, news and events coverage, information, culture, quiz, sports, and local programming; and the responses of social and media critics, literary and visual artists, and others to TV in its early years.”—Publisher’s website

YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture, by Jean Burgess and Joshua Green (Polity Press, 2009). Drawing on both the theoretical and empirical the authors discuss how YouTube is being used by media industries, professional and amateur producers and by specific communities in ways that redefine current notions about cultural production and consumption.

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