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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.
Introduction: Shoulders to Stand On.
Section I: The Columbia School.
Critical Research at Columbia: Lazarsfeld and Merton's“Mass Communication, Popular Taste, and Organized SocialAction” Peter Simonson and Gabriel Weimann.
Herzog’s “On Borrowed Experience:” Its Placein the Debate Over the Active Audience Tamar Liebes.
Section II: The Frankfurt School.
The Subtlety of Horkheimer and Adorno: Reading “TheCulture Industry” John Durham Peters.
Benjamin Contextualized: On “The Work of Art in the Age ofMechanical Reproduction” Paddy Scannell.
Redeeming Consumption: On Lowenthal’s “The Triumphof the Mass Idols” Eva Illouz.
Section III: The Chicago School.
Community and Pluralism in Wirth’s “Consensus andMass Communication” Eric Rothenbuhler.
The Audience Is a Crowd, the Crowd Is a Public: Latter-DayThoughts on Lang and Lang’s “MacArthur Day inChicago” Elihu Katz and Daniel Dayan.
Towards the Virtual Encounter: Horton and Wohl’s“Mass Communication and Para-social Interaction” DonHandelman.
Section IV: The Toronto School.
Harold Adams Innis and his Bias of Communication MenahemBlondheim.
Canonic Anti-text: Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding MediaJoshua Meyrowitz.
Section V: British Cultural Studies.
Retroactive Enrichment: Raymond Williams's Culture and SocietyJohn Durham Peters.
Canonization Achieved? Stuart Hall’s“Encoding/Decoding” Michael Gurevitch and PaddyScannell.
Afterthoughts on Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure” inthe Age of Cultural Studies Yosefa Loshitzky.