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Canonic Texts in Media Research. Are There Any? Should There Be? How About These?. Edition No. 1

  • ID: 2250468
  • Book
  • October 2002
  • 280 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
ARE THERE ANY? Many of us have our own canonic texts – the kind that won't
go away. We tell them that their time has passed, that it's embarrassing
they're still around, but they turn up repeatedly on our reading lists and
in our bibliographies. They inspire us, haunt us, argue with us -- but they
won't leave. Typically, we keep them to ourselves.

SHOULD THERE BE? Of course there should be, and there's no reason to hide
them. Canons (and saints) should be shared, because they define fields and
communities. These texts are not simply monuments, however. They are alive
and breathing, standing the test of time by shedding old meanings and
assuming new ones. The minimal care they need – occasional brushing off and
bulb-changing – is well worth the trouble.

HOW ABOUT THESE? The field of media studies is now more than 50 years old,
and the contributors to this volume offer their own candidates for canonization. Each of the thirteen essays in the book presents a critical reading of one of these classics and debates its candidacy. You are invited to disagree. The texts are summarized, analysed and re-examined for their contemporary relevance. They are grouped together in schools (Chicago, Columbia, Frankfurt, Toronto, British Cultural Studies) to highlight the different perspectives that characterize the field.

This book offers thirteen pairs of shoulders to stand on, the better to see the field of media studies. It will serve as an excellent teaching text for advanced students in communications and media and cultural studies.

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Introduction: Shoulders to Stand On.

Section I: The Columbia School.


Critical Research at Columbia: Lazarsfeld and Merton's “Mass Communication, Popular Taste, and Organized Social Action” Peter Simonson and Gabriel Weimann.

Herzog’s “On Borrowed Experience:” Its Place in the Debate Over the Active Audience Tamar Liebes.

Section II: The Frankfurt School.


The Subtlety of Horkheimer and Adorno: Reading “The Culture Industry” John Durham Peters.

Benjamin Contextualized: On “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” Paddy Scannell.

Redeeming Consumption: On Lowenthal’s “The Triumph of the Mass Idols” Eva Illouz.

Section III: The Chicago School.


Community and Pluralism in Wirth’s “Consensus and Mass Communication” Eric Rothenbuhler.

The Audience Is a Crowd, the Crowd Is a Public: Latter-Day Thoughts on Lang and Lang’s “MacArthur Day in Chicago” Elihu Katz and Daniel Dayan.

Towards the Virtual Encounter: Horton and Wohl’s “Mass Communication and Para-social Interaction” Don Handelman.

Section IV: The Toronto School.


Harold Adams Innis and his Bias of Communication Menahem Blondheim.

Canonic Anti-text: Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media Joshua Meyrowitz.

Section V: British Cultural Studies.


Retroactive Enrichment: Raymond Williams's Culture and Society John Durham Peters.

Canonization Achieved? Stuart Hall’s “Encoding/Decoding” Michael Gurevitch and Paddy Scannell.

Afterthoughts on Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure” in the Age of Cultural Studies Yosefa Loshitzky.


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Elihu Katz University of Pennsylvania.

John Durham Peters University of Iowa.

Avril Orloff University of Pennsylvania.

Tamar Liebes Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
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