2011 Winter/Spring Booknotes

African Americans in Television: Behind the Scenes, by Gregory Adamo (Peter Lang, 2010). Much has been written about African Americans on the little screen, but this book takes a look at their roles as producers, directors, writers, and executives.

Art for the Middle Classes: America’s Illustrated Magazines of the 1840s, edited by Cynthia Lee Patterson (University Press of Mississippi). Traces the history of a group of mass-circulation magazines known as the Philadelphia pictorials, which brought fine-art reproductions to the attention of the middle class.

Audience Evolution: New Technologies and the Transformation of Media Audiences, by Philip M. Napoli (Columbia University Press; 248 pages; $82.50 hardcover, $27.50 paperback). Topics include new technologies for evaluating audience demographics and response beyond traditional metrics.

Audience Evolution: New Technologies and the Transformation of Media Audiences, by Philip Napoli (Columbia, 2010). “Offers a rich and original synthesis of the many factors that help construct the audience, as well as the social, economic, and legal consequences of that process, and he has a real talent for creating a cohesive, interesting, and important story. Expansive and important, Audience Evolution is grounded in the relevant bodies of theory and ultimately enlightening.”– James G. Webster, Northwestern University

The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting Over New Media, by Ilana Gershon (Cornell, 2010). “A fascinating and thoroughly researched anthropological account of how Facebook, instant messaging, and texting reformat the media ecologies within which todays friendships and romantic relationships function and fracture. There is nothing virtual, Ilana Gershon shows, about these online arenas. Across a wide range of human relations, the form of interaction turns out to be just as crucial as its content. –Stefan Helmreich, MIT

The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence, by Susie Linfield (University of Chicago, 2010). “A profoundly thoughtful account of the role of photojournalism in an irremediably violent world, Linfield’s book is as much about conscience and empathy as it is about photography. Examining images from the Spanish Civil War to Rwanda, she accepts no easy, sweeping answers. Rather, with vivid common sense and with painstaking, often abashed humanity, she guides us through the moral minefield where horror meets art, and helps us to see.”—Claudia Roth Pierpont

Entertaining Politics: Satiric Television and Political Engagement, 2nd edition, by Jeffrey P. Jones (Roman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010). This is a second edition but it’s completely revised and updated, including eight new chapters.

History of the Internet and the Digital Future, by Johnny Ryan (University of Chicago, 2010). “Tells the story of the development of the Internet from the 1950s to the present, and examines how the balance of power has shifted between the individual and the state in the areas of censorship, copyright infringement, intellectual freedom and terrorism and warfare.” –Publisher’s website

Images of Black Modernism: Verbal and Visual Strategies of the Harlem Renaissance, by Miriam Thaggert (University of Massachusetts, 2010). Considers how visual elements were used in poems, novels, and photography to undermine stereotypes; focuses on the years 1922 to 1938.

Imagining Illness: Public Health and Visual Culture, edited by David Serlin (University of Minnesota, 2010). Contributors examine historical and contemporary visual practices—Chinese health fairs, documentary films produced by the World Health Organization, illness maps, fashions for nurses, and live surgery on the Internet—in order to delve into the political and epidemiological contexts underlying their creation and dissemination.

Insect Media: An Anthology of Animals and Technology, by Jussi Parikka (University of Minnesota Press, 2010). “Offers a theory of media that challenges our traditional views of the natural and the artificial. Parikka not only understands insects through the lens of media and mediation, he also unearths an insect logic at the heart of our contemporary fascination with networks, swarming, and intelligent agents. Such a project requires the ability to interweave cultural theory with a deep understanding of the sciences—something for which Parikka is well-suited. Most importantly, Insect Media reminds us of the non-human aspect of media, communication, intelligence. Insect Media is a book that is sure to create a buzz.” —Eugene Thacker

Invasion of the Mind Snatchers: Television’s Conquest of American in the Fifties, by Eric Burns (Temple, 2010). Charts the rise of television in the Fifties and its cultural context.

Mass Appeal: The Formative Age of Movies, Radio, and TV, by Edward D. Berkowitz (Cambridge, 2010). This book takes a biographical approach to understanding the development of the American mass media with a series of profiles/vignettes of influential players.

Media Events in a Global Age, edited by Nick Couldry, Andreas Hepp, and Frederich Krotz (Routledge, 2010). “In this extremely useful and deeply thoughtful collection of essays, the ‘media events’ model developed by Katz and Dayan in the early 1990s is recovered, critically rethought and then thoroughly recontextualised for a new media environment: one that is post-broadcast, increasingly digital, both global and fragmented, and shaped by entertainment and celebrity cultures as much as by news and information. This is an excellent collection, that will enable new kinds of argument about, and hopefully research into, the spectacular functions of the contemporary media.” – Graeme Turner, University of Queensland, Australia

Media, Power, and Politics in the Digital Age: The 2009 Presidential Election Uprising in Iran, edited by Yahya R. Kamalipour (Rowman & Littlefield, 2010). Writings on internal and external media coverage of the election and the mass demonstrations that followed; topics include Iranian dissidents’ use of Twitter and other media and how U.S. sanctions are harming the online opposition to the Islamic regime.

Militainment, Inc: War, Media, and Popular Culture, by Roger Stahl (Routledge, 2010). “Examines a wide range of historical and contemporary media examples to demonstrate the ways that war now invites audiences to enter the spectacle as an interactive participant through a variety of channels—from news coverage to online video games to reality television. Simply put, rather than presenting war as something to be watched, the new interactive militainment presents war as something to be played and experienced vicariously. Stahl examines the challenges that this new mode of militarized entertainment poses for democracy, and explores the controversies and resistant practices that it has inspired.”—Publisher’s website

News at Work: Imitation in an Age of Information Abundance, by Pablo J. Boczkowski (University of Chicago Press, 2010). Considers how new organizations’ ability to keep close tabs on competition via constantly updated Websites is contributing to a sameness in coverage; focuses on the Argentine newspapers Clarin and La Nacion with discussion of similar developments in the United States.

Newsgames: Journalism at Play, by Ian Bogost, Simon Ferrari, and Bobby Schweizer (MIT, 2010). “Posits an essential upgrade to the historical relationship between games and news—far beyond digitization of your morning crossword puzzle. This book is critical reading for those interested in emerging journalistic forms wherein the power of playful systems is harnessed to explicate the events of the day.”—Tracy Fullerton, University of Southern California

Old and New Media After Katrina, edited by Diane Negra (Palgrave Macmillan,2010). Essays on the experience and public memory of the 2005 disaster, including representations in television, documentary film, and National Public Radio.

Reel Power: Hollywood Cinema and American Supremacy, by Matthew Alford (Pluto Press, 2010). Examines links between Hollywood and the Defense Department, CIA, and weapons contractors; finds that most films have an uncritical view of U.S. power.

Selling War in a Media Age: The Presidency and Public Opinion in the American Century, edited by Kenneth Osgood and Andrew K. Frank (University Press of Florida, 2010). “From the Spanish-American War to the War on Terror, each chapter in Selling War in a Media Age explains how modern presidents have influenced, coerced, directed, and led public opinion over matters of war and peace since 1898. While some essays highlight the systematic efforts by American presidents to gain public support for war and international conflict, many more reveal that there were limits to what presidential persuasion could accomplish.”—Publisher’s website

Starring Mandela and Cosby, by Ron Krabill (University of Chicago, 2010) “Ron Krabill has provided students of race, television, and cultural exchange with a new landmark that we all must read–and will all enjoy. In an era when we are told that race should not matter, TV is finished, and cultural exchange has been eased through YouTube, he brings us back to reality. Bravo!”—Toby Miller, University of California, Riverside.

Television and Presidential Power in Putin’s Russia, by Tina Burrett (Routledge, 2010). Describes how increased control of the media figured in Putin’s expansion of presidential and state power.

Trauma and Media: Theories, Histories, and Images, by Allen Meek (Routledge , 2010). “Provides the first comprehensive account of trauma as a critical concept in the study of modern visual media, from Freud to the present day, explaining how contemporary trauma studies emerged from research on Holocaust representation in which the audiovisual testimony of survivors was posed as an authentic alternative to popular television and film dramatizations. It argues that the media coverage of 9/11 and the subsequent ‘war on terror,’ however, has revealed how the formation of communities of witness and commemoration around ‘traumatic events’ can perpetuate violence and inequality.” –Publisher’s website

The Tube Has Spoken: Reality TV & History, edited by Julie Anne Taddeo and Ken Dvorak (The University Press of Kentucky, 2010). “Offers a wide range of essays from the top names in the field…A must-read for students, professionals, and the general public;it is the single best volume available on the topic to date.” –Wheeler Winston Dixon, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

VOICE: Vocal Aesthetics in Digital Arts and Media, edited by Norie Neumark, Ross Gibson, and Theo Van Leeuwen (MIT, 2010). “Voice has returned to both theoretical and artistic agendas. In the digital era, techniques and technologies of voice have provoked insistent questioning of the distinction between the human voice and the voice of the machine, between genuine and synthetic affect, between the uniqueness of an individual voice and the social and cultural forces that shape it. This volume offers interdisciplinary perspectives on these topics from history, philosophy, cultural theory, film, dance, poetry, media arts, and computer games. Many chapters demonstrate Lewis Mumford’s idea of the “cultural preparation” that precedes technological innovation—that socially important new technologies are foreshadowed in philosophy, the arts, and everyday pastimes.”—Publisher’s website

Watching TV is Not Required: Thinking About Media and Thinking About Thinking, by Bernard McGrane and John Gunderson (Routledge, 2010). “McGrane and Gunderson have put together an extraordinarily provocative stream of sociologically inspired responses to television [and] give new life to sociological thinking.”—Jack Katz, University of California

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