Spring 2015 Booknotes

The Agon of Interpretations: Towards a Critical Intercultural Hermeneutics, edited by Ming Xie (Toronto University Press, 2015). “Writers from eight countries on five continents not only lay out  agon3the importance of critical hermeneutics to intercultural understanding but also probe the conditions under which a hermeneutics that is both intercultural and critical can be possible.” –publisher’s description

American Pulp: How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street, by Paul Ravinowitz (Princeton, 2015). The role of pulp in widening the landscape of Americans’ experience. . . . An ardent collector of pulp fiction, Rabinowitz brings to this scholarly study a passion for the genre and an authoritative analysis of its meaning in American culture.”-Kirkus Reviews

Animating Film Theory, edited by Karen Beckman (Duke, 2014).  Film theory and animation have existed in separate towers for the most part, until this book.  The contributors bring these two together, accounting for the separation and proceeding to tackle theoretical concepts such as “the still, the moving image, the frame, animism, and utopia” as they relate to animation.

jussiThe Anthrobscene, by Jussi Parikka (University of Minnesota, 2015). The author sees discarded media as our geological legacy. The term “anthropocene” is “an alternative deep time in which media live on in the layer of toxic waste we will leave behind.” Wild stuff.  This book is part of the Forerunners: Ideas First Series at the University of Minnesota Press (gray literature publishing at it best).

Bio-pics: A Life in Pictures, by Ellen Cheshire (Columbia, 2014). “Unlike other genre forms bio-pics seemingly share no familiar iconography, codes or conventions. They can be set anywhere and at any time. What links them is quite simply that the films depict the life of an ‘important’ person. Through a carefully selected range of thematically linked (English-language) bio-pics released since 1990 this book explores key issues surrounding their resurgence, narrative structure, production, subject representation or misrepresentation, and critical response. The films under discussion are grouped around a profession (writers, singers, politicians, sportsmen, criminals, artists)…”—publisher’s description

Creating Conservatism: Postwar Words That Made an American Movement, by Michael J. Lee (Michigan State University, 2014). Discusses the postwar books that nourished the conservative and libertarian movements.

Digital Rebellion: The Birth of the Cyber Left, by Todd Wolfson (University of Illinois, 2015) ” By situating the independent media center historically and theoretically, Wolfson offers a superb clear-eyed analysis of contemporary leftist politics. Through ethnographic research he carefully documents the emergence of this new politics and also points to its ideological and strategic limitations. This is a must-read book for not only academics interested in the relationships between technology, democracy, and activism, but also for anyone concerned about creating social change.” –Victor Pickard, University of Pennsylvania

Expect Us: Online Communities and Political Mobilization, by Jessica L. Beyer (Oxford, 2014).”Contrary to many scholars’ assumptions that entertainment-based media uses are corrosive to political participation, Beyer shows that a large amount of political talk and notable political action can develop from entertainment-focused spaces. This book is a must read for scholars of online activism and contemporary activism more generally.” –Jennifer Earl, University of Arizona expect

Feed-Forward: On the Future of Twenty-First Century Media, by Mark B.N. Hansen (University of Chicago, 2015). “embarks on a rigorously philosophical appraisal of Whitehead in relation to our contemporary socio-technical milieu and in the process unfolds a remarkable constellation of interlocking theses about human experience. A Hansen book is always an anticipated event but Feed Forward is truly extraordinary. It fundamentally alters the terms of the debate about human perception and cognition in twenty-first-century media environments.” –Rita Raley, University of California at Santa Barbara

Feeling Mediated: A History of Media Technology and Emotion in America, by Brenton J. Malin (New York University, 2014). Explores the historical roots of much of our recent understanding of mediated feelings, showing how earlier ideas about the telegraph, phonograph, radio, motion pictures, and other once-new technologies continue to inform our contemporary thinking. With insightful analysis, Feeling Mediated explores a series of fascinating arguments about technology and emotion that became especially heated during the early 20th century.” –publisher’s description mediated

Flicker: Your Brain on Movies, by Jeffrey M. Zacks (Oxford, 2015) . Cognitive neuroscience looks at physical and emotional responses to watching movies.

Forensic Media: Reconstructing Accidents in Accelerated Modernity, by George Siegel (Duke, 2015) “considers how photographic, electronic, and digital media have been used to record and reconstruct accidents, particularly high-speed crashes and catastrophes…demonstrates that forensic media are as much technologies of cultural imagination as they are instruments of scientific inscription, as imbued with ideological fantasies as they are compelled by institutional rationales.” –Publisher’s description foren

Harold Innis’s History of Communications: Paper and Printing–Antiquity to Early Modernity, edited by William J. Buxton, Michael R. Cheney, and Paul Heyer (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014). The editors mount the three core chapters from Innis’s legendary history of communications manuscript. “Ranging widely across time and space, Innis presents a kaleidoscopic portrait of the various surfaces, writing systems, and practices that have shaped human communication. Framed by the authors’ excellent introduction, this book offers a fascinating new perspective on the linkages between material and cultural history that Innis was making in his later work.”–Michigan State University

Hate Crime in the Media: A History, by Victoria Munro (Praeger, 2014). “Analysis of how media texts signify sociocultural hierarchies that function to produce and maintain intergroup hate…employs a discourse analysis approach to show how the mass media serve as a “ring” in which ideologies of dominance and subjugation clash to manifest cultural meanings of Otherness.” –Choice

The Invention of News: How the World Came to Know About Itself, by Andrew Pettegree (Yale, 2014). “A study of the development of a commercial culture of news in the five centuries between the late middle ages and the breakthrough to a daily press at the end of the eighteenth century. It draws on research in ten European countries and North America, and charts the growth of a multimedia information culture that encompassed manuscript and print, correspondence and conversation, gossip, singing and official proclamations.  This multi-media world proved a challenging news environment for the first newspaper, published at the beginning of the seventeenth century, and it would be two hundred years before newspapers became the normative, or even predominant form of news delivery.”—Forbes.com invent

Language of Terror: Now Neuroscience Influences Political Speech in the United States, by Wesley Kendall, Joseph M. Siracusa, and Kevin Noguchi (Rowan and Littlefield, 2015). “Examine[s] how the human brain reacts to expressions of political ideology regarding terrorism. [The authors] apply these reactions to specific forms of political communication, many of which are designed to elicit a desired response in creating support for a policymaker’s agenda. By comparing and contrasting a variety of case studies, they demonstrate how similar acts accompanied by starkly different political language can create cognitive dissonance in the minds of the electorate and influence policy choices.” –publisher’s description

The Marketplace of Attention: How Audiences Take Shape in a Digital Age, by James G. Webster (MIT, 2014). “Theories of selective exposure, bubbles, preference formation, rational ignorance, uses and gratification, scheduling patterns, and counter-programming all vie for attention. This book skillfully draws these theories and evidence together to answer a simple but vexing question: how much do we know about how audiences are generated, and what does that imply about the marketplace of ideas?” —James T. Hamilton, Hearst Professor of Communication, Stanford University atten

The Media Welfare State: Nordic Media in the Digital Era, by Trine Syvertsen, et al. (University of Michigan, 2014) “While many in critical media studies bemoan a homogeneous media culture and global neoliberalism, the authors undertake a sophisticated analysis of a ‘Nordic model’ of the media welfare state that is culturally and institutionally grounded, but avoids crude comparativism and is sensitive to economic and technological forces challenging long-established policy settlements.” –Terry Flew, Queensland University of Technology

Necromedia, by Marcel O’Gorman (University of Minnesota, 2015) “Inspired in part by the work of cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker, O’Gorman begins by suggesting that technology provides human beings with a cultural hero system built on the denial of death and a false promise of immortality. This theory adds an existential zest to the book, allowing the author not only to devise a creative diagnosis of what Bernard Stiegler has called the malaise of contemporary technoculture but also to contribute a potential therapy—one that requires embracing human finitude, infusing care into the process of technological production, and recognizing the vulnerability of all things, human and nonhuman.” –publisher’s description necro

On ‘The Wire”, by Linda Williams (Duke, 2014)  “Revolutionizes the ways we approach the series…a provocative, productive analysis that makes an essential contribution to the sociology of television: not only how to think of television as social force but its own ability to constitute sociological investigation.”
–Dana Polan (Film Quarterly)

A Press Divided: Newspaper Coverage of the Civil War, edited by David B Sachsman (Transaction Books, 2014). “The sheer variety and range of contentious opinions, issues, and events in every area treated will startle many readers. Problems besetting seven states discussed, for example, and multiple divisions in government (especially in the South, where top leaders espoused divergent ideologies) raise anew questions about how a viable union survived. The book underscores the continuing value of this era as a site for study of a nation in crisis, as well as for study of solutions and of the human condition.”
—Hazel Dicken-Garcia, professor emerita, University of Minnesota

playersPlayers and Their Pets: Gaming Communities from Beta to Sunset, by Mia Consalvo and Jason Begy (University of Minnesota, 2015) “A deep dive into a rich online world and a rare opportunity to see a the nearly complete life cycle of a game. A great read for anyone interested in studying, designing, or thinking about online games and virtual worlds.”—Christopher A. Paul, Seattle University

The Real Cyber War: The Political Economy of Internet Freedom, by Shawn M. Powers and Michael Jablonski  University of Illinois, 2015).”Connect[s] disparate and significant dots; weave history, technology, and law together; and explain interrelated complex concepts imaginatively. They tell a compelling story key for any student of transnational information flows.”–Monroe Price (University of Pennsylvania) real

Rhetorical Touch: Disability, Identification, Haptics, by Shannon Walters (University of South Carolina, 2015). The author makes a strong case for role of touch in rhetorical practices for populations often excluded by such practices.

Savage Preservation: The Savage Origins of Modern Media Technology, by Brian Hochman (University of Minnesota, 2014). Drawing extensively on seldom-seen archival sources—from phonetic alphabets and sign language drawings to wax cylinder recordings and early color photographs—Hochman uncovers the parallel histories of ethnography and technology in the turn-of-the-century period. While conventional wisdom suggests that media technologies work mostly to produce ideas about race, Savage Preservation reveals that the reverse has also been true. During this period, popular conceptions of race constructed the authority of new media technologies as reliable archives of the real.’—Chris Sterling, Communication Booknotes Quarterly

seeingSeeing Green: The Use and Abuse of American Environmental Images, by Finis Dunaway (University of Chicago, 2015).”surveys the relationships among visual images and American environmentalism from the Cold War 1950s to the eco-consciousness of today, looking at a wide variety of images and media sources including ads, photo-essays, movies, cartoons, and comic books, and contextualizing them within larger discussions about affect, public life, environmental citizenship, and the limits of visual democracy. This accessible and informative book is sure to appeal to numerous readers including those in American history, American Studies, geography, media studies, and environmental studies.” –Erika Doss, University of Notre Dame

Sexting Panic: Rethinking Criminalization, Privacy, and Consent, by Amy Adele Hasinoff (University of Illinois, 2015).”Challenges the idea that sexting inevitably victimizes young women…encourages us to recognize young people’s capacity for choice and recommends responses to sexting that are realistic and nuanced rather than based on misplaced fears about deviance, sexuality, and digital media” –publisher’s description

Social Media in the Courtroom : A New Era for Criminal Justice?, by Thaddeus A. Hoffmeister. (Praeger, 2014) “Social media hasn’t just changed society–it’s changing the way in which criminal law is prosecuted, defended, and adjudicated.” –publisher’s description

Theories of the Mobile Internet: Materialities and Imaginaries, edited by Andrew Herman, Jan Hadlaw, and Thom Swiss. (Routledge, 2015). The mobile internet (via phones or tablets) is a discussed by scholars from a variety of disciplines with an eye on the concepts of materialities (the political economy of communication, physical devices) and imaginaries (cultural values, desires and perceptions).

tribalTribal Television: Viewing Native People in Sitcoms, by Dustin Tahmahkera (University of North Carolina, 2015).”Focusing on the need for critical indigenous popular cultural studies, this ambitious book offers an important and timely frame through which to consider how discourses on indigenous identities and relations between Natives and non-Natives have been shaped by decades of situational comedies. Providing important insights into an archive that is generally dismissed as frivolous, Tahmahkera assesses television history to chart some of the major developments in twentieth-century federal Indian policy and their impact on popular culture.” –Jodi Byrd, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Vital Conversations: Improving Communication Between Doctors and Patients, by Dennis Rosen. (Columbia, 2014) Drawing upon research in biomedicine, sociology, and anthropology and integrating personal stories from his medical practice in three different countries (and as a patient), Rosen shows how important good communication between physicians and patients is to high-quality–and less-expensive–care.”–publishers’ description

What We See When We Read: A Phenomenology, by Peter Mendelsund (Vintage Books, 2014). Philosophical look at what we see when we read that includes, according to the New York Times book review of 3/31/14, “a sketch of Anna Karenina produced from police composite-sketch software, based on descriptions from the text.”

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