Reading Media Theory: Thinkers, Approaches, Contexts

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“A well organised reader which covers the key theories and theorists, Reading Media Theory should be a required text for any student of the media and mass communication. It is a comprehensive overview of media theory, drawing together readings which represent milestones in the field with lucid explanation of their relevance and critical assessment of their impact.”

Kevin Williams, Professor of Media and Communication Studies, Swansea University

"Clearly organised around key thinkers in the field, Reading Media Theory offers students an ideal combination of landmark original writings, clear and concise explanations and thoughtful reflection.’

Andy Willis, Reader, School of Media, Music and Performance, University of Salford

What does the Frankfurt School have to say about the contemporary cultural and creative industries? Does the spread of Google prove we now live in an information society? How is Madonna an example of postmodernism? How did Marx foretell the power of the mass media? What does Radio 1’s Top 40 chart tell us about media audiences?

This groundbreaking volume – part reader, part textbook - helps you to engage thoroughly with some of the major voices that have come to define the landscape of theory in media studies, from the public sphere to postmodernism, from mass communication theory to media effects, from production to reception and beyond. But much more than this, by providing assistance and questions directly alongside the readings, it crucially helps you develop the skills necessary to become a critical, informed andanalytical reader.

Each reading is supported on the facing page by author annotations which provide comments, dissect the arguments, explain key ideas and terminology, make references to other relevant material, and pose questions that emerge from the text.

Key features

  • Opening chapters: ‘What is theory?’ and ‘What is reading?’ bring alive the importance of both as key parts of media scholarship
  • Pre-reading: substantial Introductory sections set each text and its author in context and show the relevance of the reading to contemporary culture
  • Post-reading: Reflection sections summarise each reading’s key points and suggests further areas to explore and think about
  • 4 types of annotations help you engage with the reading – context, content, structure, and writing style …. as well as questions to provoke further thought
  • Split into 4 sections – Reading theory, Key thinkers and schools, Approaches and Media Theory in context

Reading Media Theory will assist you in developing close-reading and analytic skills. It will also increase your ability to outline key theories and debates, assess different case studies critically, link theoretical approaches to a particular historical context, and to structure and present an argument. As such, it will be essential reading for undergraduate and postgraduate students of media studies, cultural studies, communication studies, the sociology of the media, popular culture and other related subjects.

David Barlow is a Lecturer in Media, Culture and Communication in the Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries at the University of Glamorgan and Director of the Centre for the Study of Media and Culture in Small Nations. He is a joint author (with Philip Mitchell and Tom O’Malley) of The Media in Wales: Voices of a Small Nation (UWP, 2005) and co-editor (with Vian Bakir) of Communication in the Age of Suspicion: Trust and the Media (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

Brett Mills is a Lecturer in Film and Television Studies at the University of East Anglia, and an Associate Tutor at the Open University. He is the author of Television Sitcom (BFI, 2005) and Television Genres: Sitcom (EUP, 2009) and Associate Editor (with Gill Allard) of Palgrave’s ‘Adaptation’ series.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405821995
  • Publisher: Longman
  • Publication date: 3/19/2009
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 744
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

Part One - Reading Theory

2 What is Theory?

3 What is Reading?

Part Two - Key Thinkers and Schools of Thought

4 Liberal press theory

Reading: Mill, J. S. (1997 [1859]) ‘Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion’

5 Chicago school

Reading: Park, R. E. (1967) ‘The Natural History of the Newspaper’

6 Walter Lippmann

Reading: Lippmann, W. (1965) ‘News, Truth and a Conclusion’

7 F. R. Leavis

Reading: Leavis, F. R. (1930) Mass Civilisation and Minority Culture

8 Marxism

Reading: Miliband, R. (1973) The State in Capitalist Society: The Analysis of the Western System of Power

9 Frankfurt school

Reading: Horkheimer, M. and Adorno, T. W. (2002 [1944]) Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments

10 Harold Lasswell

Reading: Lasswell, H. D. (1948) ‘The Structure and Function of Communication in Society’

11 Columbia school

Reading: Lazarsfeld, P. F. and Merton, R. K. (1948) ‘Mass Communication, Popular Taste and Organized Social Action’

12 C. Wright Mills

Reading: Mills, C. W. (1956) ‘The Mass Society’

13 Toronto school

Reading: Innis, H. A. (1951) The Bias of Communication

14 Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies

Reading: Hall, S. (1980c) ‘Encoding / Decoding’

Part Three – Approaches to Media Theory

15 Political economy

Reading: Herman, E.S. (1995) ‘Media in the US Political Economy’

16 Public sphere

Reading: Habermas, J. (1974 [1964]) ‘The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article’

17 The effects tradition

Reading: Gauntlett, D. (2005) ‘Ten Things Wrong with the Media ‘Effects Model’

18 Structuralism

Reading: Todorov, T. (1990 [1978]) Genres in Discourse

19 Cultural theory

Reading: Williams, R. (1961) The Long Revolution

20 Feminist media theory

Reading: van Zoonen, L. (1994) Feminist Media Studies

21 Postmodernism

Reading: Baudrillard, J. (1994 [1981]) ‘The Implosion of Meaning in the Media’

22 The information society

Reading: Webster, F. (2002) Theories of the Information Society

Part Four – Media Theory in Context

23 Production

Reading: Hesmondhalgh, D. (2007) The Cultural Industries

24 Texts

Reading: Barthes, R. (1977 [1967]) ‘The Death of the Author’

25 Audiences

Reading: Ang, I. (1991) ‘Chapter 2: Audience-as-Market and Audience-as-Public’

26 Bibliography

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