Booknotes — Winter 2015

Acid Hype: American News Media and the Psychedelic Experience, by Stephen Siff (University of Illinois, acid2015). “The rich content of consumer magazines, especially those published before television became culturally dominant, remains largely unexamined by media historians…illustrates how rewarding [the] study of mass-circulation magazines can be.” –Joseph Bernt, Ohio University

Audience Responses to Real Media Violence: The Knockout Game, by Mary Grace Antony (Lexington Books, 2015). Presents quantitative assessments of student reactions to watching videos of an activity called the ‘knockout game,’ in which adults are physically attacked by other adults for the sheer ‘entertainment’ of the attackers. The book “points our attention to a controversy that has been known to researchers for a long time: real portrayals of violence are likely to have greater effects than fictional ones…[Book] is casual and accessible, and shares some uncomfortable truths about what we’re watching on the internet.” –Joanne Savage, American University

Broadcasting Modernity: Cuban Commercial Television, 1950-1960, by Yeidy M. Rivero (Duke, 2015) “A riveting account of the complex struggles over the introduction of television as both a symbol and site of Cuban modernization during the 1950s. Set against the backdrop of hemispheric politics and Cold War struggle, television proved to be a linchpin of political and cultural transformation throughout the island nation and ultimately across the Americas.” –Michael Curtin, University of California, Santa Barbara

cementThe Cement of Civil Society: Studying Networks in Localities, by Mario Diani (Cambridge, 2015). “By moving beyond aggregative, trait-based views of social and political structure to relational conceptions, Diani deftly turns the kaleidoscope to reveal heretofore unseen patterns in civil society. His fascinating findings supplement some existing literature while turning some traditional conclusions on their heads. This work creates a new, compelling imperative for incorporating complex network dynamics into research on civil society organizing.” –Janet L. Fulk, University of Southern California

Complex TV: The Poetrics of Contemporary Television’s Storytelling, by Jason Mittell (New York University, 2015). “One of the most exciting books I have ever read. Each chapter contains useful and well-defined terms to put to work in formal analysis, and every argument is backed up with lively, detailed, and entertaining complexreadings of familiar TV texts. The result is a rich and thorough piece of scholarship that will do for television studies what David Bordwell’s historical poetics has famously done for film.” –Robyn Warhol, Ohio State University

Deep Mapping the Media City, by Shannon Mattern (University of Minnesota, 2015). Author “advocates for urban media archaeology, a multisensory approach to investigating the material history of networked cities…explores the material assemblages and infrastructures that have shaped the media city by taking archaeology literally—using techniques like excavation and mapping to discover the modern city’s roots in time.” –publisher’s description

Extreme Weather and Global Media, edited by Julia Leyda and Diane Negra (Routledge, 2015) “This is a highly original collection of essays, bringing the insights of a critical media studies to the environmental humanities in order to elaborate the complexities of the cultural politics implicated in the ‘hypermediation’ of extreme weather events.” ―Graeme Turner, University of Queensland

Going to War in Iraq: When Citizens and the Press Matter, by Stanley Feldman (University of Chicago, 2015). “The most comprehensive investigation into how news coverage influenced American public opinion during the run up to the Iraq War…presents a novel and well-written analysis that will make a lasting contribution to the scholarly literatures on American politics, international relations, public opinion, and political communication.” –Scott L. Althaus, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

gourmandGourmands and Gluttons: The Rhetoric of Food Excess, by Carlnita P. Greene (Peter Lang, 2015). An analysis of how we talk and write about food revealing that the 19th century glutton and gourmand characters (and characatuers) are alive and well in contemporary media and pop culture.

The Informal Media Economy, by Ramon Lobato and Julian Thomas (Politty, 2015). “Reaching beyond the tired platitudes and self-interested rhetoric of media piracy debates, Lobato and Thomas examine the elaborate interdependence between formal and informal media economies. The book ranges across seemingly discrete corners of the media economy, examining such issues as innovation, circulation and value. Along the way, the authors deliver lucid, thoughtful and provocative insights regarding topics that are absolutely central to media industry studies today.”–Michael Curtin, University of California, Santa Barbara

#iranelection: Hashtag Solidarity and the Transformation of Online Life, by Negar Mottahedeh (Stanford, 2015). “Offers a fresh perspective on the role of social media in the 2009 protest movement in Iran. Moving beyond clichéd analysis, Mottahedeh offers a nuanced mapping of the ways social media was integrated into the lived experiences of Iranian political life. In tracing the organic development of the Green Movement, the book provides glimpses into the ways Iran’s history continues to color political memory and animate social movements.” —Shiva Balaghi, Brown University

islamicIslamic State: The Digital Caliphate, by Abdel Bari Atwan (University of California, 2015. “Based on visits to the Turkish-Syrian border, online interviews with jihadists, and the access to leaders he enjoys as one of the Arab world’s most respected journalists, Atwan draws a convincing picture of the Islamic State as a well-run organization that combines bureaucratic efficiency and military expertise with a sophisticated use of information technology.”—Malise Ruthven, New York Review of Books

It’s Been Beautiful: Soul! and Black Power Television, by Gayle Wald (Duke, 2015) “Offers new ways of interrogating the imbricated discourses of Civil Rights and Black Power politics in the context of popular culture…contributes to cultural and televisual studies, adds new dimensions to sonic studies and black performance studies, intervenes in and expands the racial and political dimensions of affect studies, and builds in exciting ways on new advances in black queer cultural studies.” –Daphne A. Brooks, Yale University

Making “Nature”: The History of a Scientific Journal, by Melinda Baldwin (University of Chicago, 2015). “We often think of scientific journals as receptacles for knowledge created elsewhere. But Baldwin shows that Nature, one natureof the premier journals in the world, was not a passive vessel, but rather a site where the rules of science themselves were debated and developed. Its pages were where scientists defined what it meant to do science: professionalization, peer review, science and internationalism, and the role of science in the public sphere…presents a powerful argument for the critical role of publishing in the creation of modern science.” –Mathew Stanley, New York University

indiaMaking News in Global India: Media, Publics, Politics, by Sahana Udupa (Cambridge, 2015) “Ranks among the most important theoretical and ethnographic studies of news media in South Asia to be published in recent years. [Author] argues convincingly that our assumptions about publicity and privacy, vernacular and standard, local and global need to be rethought in order to fully understand the operations of news media in India’s ‘world-class’ cities.”–Dominic Boyer, Rice University

Media and Cosmopolitanism, edited by Aybige Yilmaz, Ruxandra Trandafoiu, and Aris Mousoutzanis (Peter Lang, 2015). Essays exploring the existing research and theory about cosmopolitanism via case studies and dialogues with the broader disciplines of media and cultural studies to illuminate “the central issue of the book: the role played by the media, in its various forms, in either encouraging or discouraging cosmopolitanist identifications among its audiences.” –publisher’s description

The Media and Public Life: A History, by John Nerone (Polity, 2015). “A masterpiece of media history, a lively, sensible story of memorable moments involving the press, politics, and public. John Nerone’s definitive social and institutional account will guide everyone from beginners to experts studying communication media at the core of late modern life.”– Kevin Barnhurst, University of Leeds

Media Matter: The Materiality of Media, Matter as Medium, edited by Bernd Herzogenrath (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015) “In recent years the concept of medium (and with it the whole field of media studies) has been repeatedly redefined, particularly by scholars in the German-speaking countries. Media|Matter is an original and important contribution to that process of redefinition. Contributors to this anthology address a range of media forms and practices, including print, film, video and performance art, and sonic art. They apply and often critique a range of theoretical approaches, including media philosophy, systems theory, actor-network theory, feminist theory, the work of Deleuze and Guattari, the art theory of Kraus and Foster, and more. Their varied contributions share a foundational concern with the question of the materiality of media: each essay seeks within its domain to explore the form and matter of contemporary media without resorting to either technological or cultural determinism. Everyone interested in the current condition and the future of media studies should read [this].” –Jay David Bolter, Georgia Institute of Technology

fandomMillennial Fandom: Television Audiences in the Transmedia Age, by Louisa Ellen Stein (University of Iowa, 2015). “Traverses the networked contours of a rapidly fragmenting media culture to represent fandom in positive, political, and productive ways…spotlights a new generation and offers an important window on contemporary developments in transmedia storytelling and net-based fan cultures.”—Mark Duffett, University of Chester

The Motherhood Business: Consumption, Communication, and Privilege, edited by Anne Teresa Demo, Jennifer L. Borda, and Charlotte Krolokke (University of Alabama, 2015). “The synergy between motherhood and the marketplace demonstrated across the essays affirms the stronghold of ‘intensive mothering ideology’ in decisions over what mothers buy and how they brand their businesses even as that ideology evolves. Across diverse contexts…also identifies how different forms or privilege shape how mothers construct their identities through their consumption and entrepreneurship.” –publisher’s description

Participatory Culture in a Networked Era: A Conversation on Youth, Learning, Commerce, and Politics, by Henry Jenkins, Mimi Ito, and danna boyd (Polity, 2015). “The idea of scholarship as dialogue is one that particlies buried deep within the humanities. In the pages of this engaging and accessible book, Jenkins, Ito and boyd have brought the ethos of dialogue very much to the surface. Their conversation is an entirely apt technique for reflecting on what is by now a sustained history of collaboration on questions of informal learning, participation and power in the evolving digital media environment.” –Jean Burgess, Queensland University of Technology

Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up, by Philip N. Howard (Yale, 2015). “Addresses the implications of digital media, big data, and related phenomena for democracy and public life. Pundits, policymakers, and those curious about the changing landscape of media, politics, and global affairs should take note.”—Seth Lewis, University of Minnesota

Post-TV: Piracy, Cord-Cutting, and the Future of Television, by Michael Strangelove (University of Toronto, 2015). Insight into the practices of the growing television audience that bypasses traditional television viewing.

Reporting in the MENA Region: Cyber Engagement and Pan-Arab Social Media, by Mohammad Ayish and Noha Mellor (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015). “The authors “bring to life journalists’ ongoing struggles with—and accommodations to—the state, the market, civil society, and their own news organizations to define the future of social media. In so doing, [they] challenge over-optimistic claims about the Arab Spring’s democratizing legacy and provide a benchmark for future comparative research.” –Rodney Benson, New York University

Surveillance Cinema, by Catherine Zimmer (New York University, 2105). “[A] genuinely groundbreaking study. cinemaTimely, ideologically engaged and passionate in its critique both of contemporary geopolitics and the cinematic works that depict its sites of contestation, this is a book of significant interest to scholars in the fields of film studies and surveillance studies…and to those of us who are, quite justifiably, haunted by the sense that someone, somewhere is watching.” —Linnie Blake, Times Higher Education

That’s the Way It Is: A History of Television News in America, by Charles L. Ponce de Leon (Chicago, 2015). “A brisk and informative history of television news since its inception in the late 1940s, covering the more than six decades of TV news from Douglas Edwards to Diane Sawyer, from the Camel News Caravan to Countdown with Keith Olbermann. The narrative moves quickly, yet pauses to offer extended discussions of such topics as the genesis of PBS, the establishment of CNN, the innovations of Roone Arledge at ABC, and the ways that local news helped to reshape the network evening newscasts.” –Chester Pach, Ohio University

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture, by Whitney Phillips (MIT, 2015). “Given the social anxiety surrounding online antagonism and mischief generally, and the confusion surrounding trolling specifically, it is about time someone wrote this book. Building on deep empirical research, Phillips has given us a rich, comprehensive, and wonderfully engaging account of the identities and practices of trolling, both as a historically situated subculture and as a dynamic of the digital media environment.” —Jean Burgess, Queensland University of Technology

Visual Occupations: Violence and Visibility in a Conflict Zone, edited by Jack Halberstam and Lisa Lowe (Duke, 2015). “Shows how the Israeli Occupation of Palestine is driven by the unequal access to visual rights, or the right to control what can be seen, how, and from which position. Israel occupationsmaintains this unequal balance by erasing the history and denying the existence of Palestinians, and by carefully concealing its own militarization. Israeli surveillance of Palestinians, combined with the militarized gaze of Israeli soldiers at places like roadside checkpoints, also serve as tools of dominance. Hochberg analyzes various works by Palestinian and Israeli artists, among them Elia Suleiman, Rula Halawani, Sharif Waked, Ari Folman, and Larry Abramson, whose films, art, and photography challenge the inequity of visual rights by altering, queering, and manipulating dominant modes of representing the conflict. These artists’ creation of new ways of seeing—such as the refusal of Palestinian filmmakers and photographers to show Palestinian suffering or the Israeli artists’ exposure of state manipulated Israeli blindness —offers a crucial gateway, Hochberg suggests, for overcoming and undoing Israel’s militarized dominance and political oppression of Palestinians.” –publisher’s description

Who Governs?: Presidents, Public Opinion, and Manipulation, by James N. Druckman and Lawrence R. Jacobs (University of Chicago, 2015). “based on confidential documents from three US presidents, sheds new light on the relationship between America’s political elites and its citizens. The picture is not pretty: presidents of both political parties seek to manipulate, distract, and often mislead the public in their pursuit of narrow interests that do not benefit the majority of citizens. A compelling, important, and sobering account that underscores just how far America has drifted from the democratic ideal of a government of, by, and for the people.”—Martin Gilens (Princeton, 2015)

Worker Resistance and Media: Challenging Global Corporate Power in the 21st Century, by Lina workerDencik and Peter Wilkin (Peter Lang, 2015). “For anyone interested in globalisation, inequality, new communications technology and social movements… lucid, anchored in empirical research, engages intelligently with globalisation theory, and is not confined to the west…an important and original book.” –James Curran, Goldsmiths, University of London

You’re Dead—So What: Media Police and the Invisibility of Black Women as Victims of Homicide, by Cheryl L. Neely (Michigan State University, 2015). “Just as the media are effective in helping to increase police response, law enforcement officials reach out to news outlets to solicit help from the public in locating a missing person or solving a murder. However, a deeply troubling disparity in reporting the disappearance and homicides of female victims reflects racial inequality and institutionalized racism in the social structure that need to be addressed. It is this disparity this important study seeks to solve.” –publisher’s description


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