Delusions of electronic persecution have been a preeminent symptom of psychosis for over two hundred years. In The Technical Delusion Jeffrey Sconce traces the history and continuing proliferation of this phenomenon from its origins in Enlightenment anatomy to our era of global interconnectivity. While psychiatrists have typically dismissed such delusions of electronic control as arbitrary or as mere reflections of modern life, Sconce demonstrates a more complex and interdependent history of electronics, power, and insanity. Drawing on a wide array of psychological case studies, literature, court cases, and popular media, Sconce analyzes the material and social processes that have shaped historical delusions of electronic contamination, implantation, telepathy, surveillance, and immersion. From the age of telegraphy to contemporary digitality, the media emerged within such delusions to become the privileged site for imagining the merger of electronic and political power, serving as a paranoid conduit between the body and the body politic. Looking to the future, Sconce argues that this symptom will become increasingly difficult to isolate, especially as remote and often secretive powers work to further integrate bodies, electronics, and information.
Technologies of Freedom
Ithiel de Sola POOL Harvard University Press, 1983 Library of Congress KF2750.P66 1983 | Dewey Decimal 343.730998
How can we preserve free speech in an electronic age? In a masterly synthesis of history, law, and technology, Ithiel de Sola Pool analyzes the confrontation between the regulators of the new communications technology and the First Amendment.
This Is Enlightenment
Edited by Clifford Siskin and William Warner University of Chicago Press, 2010 Library of Congress B802.T468 2010 | Dewey Decimal 190.9033
Debates about the nature of the Enlightenment date to the eighteenth century, when Imanual Kant himself addressed the question, “What is Enlightenment?” The contributors to this ambitious book offer a paradigm-shifting answer to that now-famous query: Enlightenment is an event in the history of mediation. Enlightenment, they argue, needs to be engaged within the newly broad sense of mediation introduced here—not only oral, visual, written, and printed media, but everything that intervenes, enables, supplements, or is simply in between.
With essays addressing infrastructure and genres, associational practices and protocols, this volume establishes mediation as the condition of possibility for enlightenment. In so doing, it not only answers Kant’s query; it also poses its own broader question: how would foregrounding mediation change the kinds and areas of inquiry in our own epoch? This Is Enlightenment is a landmark volumewith the polemical force and archival depth to start a conversation that extends across the disciplines that the Enlightenment itself first configured.
Child abuse, incest, child molestation, Halloween sadism, child pornography: although clearly not new problems, they have attracted more attention than ever before. Threatened Children asks why. Joel Best analyzes the rhetorical tools used by child advocates when making claims aimed at raising public anxiety and examines the media's role in transmitting reformers' claims and the public's response to the frightening statistics, compelling examples, and expanding definitions it confronts. Drawing on a wide range of sources, from criminal justice records to news stories, from urban legends to public opinion surveys, Best reveals how the cultural construction of social problems evolves.
Probes the complicated relationship between postwar America between historical memory and commercial culture-popular television, music, and film.
"Time Passages is a far-reaching-and perhaps permanent-contribution to cultural studies." San Francisco Review of Books
"This high take on 'low' culture examines the complex web of popular narratives that arise from and create the American collective memory. Studying the period from the end of World War II to the present, Lipsitz . . . inventively explores the popular canon, turning variously to television, rock music, film, novels, and the Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans." Publishers Weekly
"What really separates Lipsitz from earlier critics of popular culture is that he got his rock diploma from the high-school gym, not the Frankfurt School. Lipsitz knows the color of the labels, the B-sides, the cover versions." Boston Phoenix Literary Section
"In a series of provocative and finely crafted essays on film, rock 'n' roll, early television, popular novels, New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations, and other aspects of popular culture, Lipsitz argues that popular culture has been, and remains, an arena of hope, possibility, criticism, and even resistance for millions of ordinary people." American Studies
George Lipsitz is professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, San Diego, where he serves as director of the Thurgood Marshall Institute. He is the author of many books, including American Studies in a Moment of Danger, The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics (1998), and Dangerous Crossroads: Popular Music, Postmodernism, and the Poetics of Place (1997). He also edited Stan Weir's Singlejack Solidarity (2004).
“Edward Miller has written a sharply observant, often revelatory, and stimulating book that explores the 1970s with gusto, showing all the intimacy and pleasure and startling richness of observation with which a scholar may sometimes approach a period in which he lived.”
—Martin Harries, New York University
Contemporary American media is awash with reality programs, faux documentaries, and user generated content. When did this fixation on real or feigned nonfictionality begin? Tomboys, Pretty Boys, and Outspoken Women argues that its origins can be found in the early 1970s, when American media discovered the entertainment value of documentaries, news programming, and other nonfiction forms. Edward D. Miller challenges preconceptions of the ’60s and ’70s through close readings of key events and important figures in the early 1970s: John Dean’s performance in front of the Senate during the Watergate Hearings; Billie Jean King popularizing tennis by taking on Bobby Riggs in a prime-time match; David Bowie experiencing “outer space” in his tours across America; An American Family and their gay son facing the public’s consternation; and Alison Steele, a female DJ who invited listeners to fly with her at night. Miller explores the early 1970s as a turning point in American culture, with nonfiction media of the time creating new possibilities for expressions of gender and sexuality, and argues that we are living in its aftermath.
In addition to readers attracted to media studies, this book will be of great interest to those involved in LGBT studies, feminism, and queer studies as well as students of contemporary media culture. The aim of the book is to demystify current media trends by providing an analysis of the recent past. Tomboys, Pretty Boys, and Outspoken Women is written for a large audience that extends beyond academia and embraces readers who have an interest in American pop culture and, in particular, the '70s.
From Mohandas Gandhi’s nineteenth-century tour in a third-class compartment to the recent cinematic shenanigans of Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited, the railway has been one of India’s most potent emblems of modern life. In the first in-depth analysis of representations of the Indian railway, Marian Aguiar interprets modernity through the legacy of this transformative technology.
Since the colonial period in India, the railway has been idealized as a rational utopia—a moving box in which racial and class differences might be amalgamated under a civic, secular, and public order. Aguiar charts this powerful image into the postcolonial period, showing how the culture of mobility exposes this symbol of reason as surprisingly dynamic and productive. Looking in turn at the partition of India, labor relations, rituals of travel, works of literature and film, visual culture, and the Mumbai train bombings of 2006, Aguiar finds incongruities she terms “counternarratives of modernity” to signify how they work both with and against the dominant rhetoric. Revealing railways as a microcosm of tensions within Indian culture, Aguiar demonstrates how their representations have challenged prevailing ideas of modernity.
Within corporate media industries, adults produce children’s entertainment. Yet children, presumed to exist outside the professional adult world, make their own contributions to it—creating and posting unboxing videos, for example, that provide content for toy marketers. Many adults, meanwhile, avidly consume entertainment products nominally meant for children. Media industries reincorporate this market-disrupting participation into their strategies, even turning to adult consumers to pass fandom to the next generation.
Derek Johnson presents an innovative perspective that looks beyond the simple category of “kids’ media” to consider how entertainment industry strategies invite producers and consumers alike to cross boundaries between adulthood and childhood, professional and amateur, new media and old. Revealing the social norms, reproductive ideals, and labor hierarchies on which such transformations depend, he identifies the lines of authority and power around which legacy media institutions like television, comics, and toys imagine their futures in a digital age. Johnson proposes that it is not strategies of media production, but of media reproduction, that are most essential in this context. To understand these critical intersections, he investigates transgenerational industry practice in television co-viewing, recruitment of adult comic readers as youth outreach ambassadors, media professionals’ identification with childhood, the branded management of adult fans of LEGO, and the labor of child YouTube video creators. These dynamic relationships may appear to disrupt generational and industry boundaries alike. However, by considering who media industries empower when generating the future in these reproductive terms and who they leave out, Johnson ultimately demonstrates how their strategies reinforce existing power structures.
This book makes vital contributions to media studies in its fresh approach to the intersections of adulthood and childhood, its attention to the relationship between legacy and digital media industries, and its advancement of dialogue between media production and consumption researchers. It will interest scholars in media industry studies and across media studies more broadly, with particular appeal to those concerned about the current and future reach of media industries into our lives.
In the medieval period, as in the media culture of the present, learned and popular forms of talk were intermingled everywhere. They were also highly mobile, circulating in speech, writing, and symbol, as performances as well as in material objects. The communication through and between different media we all negotiate in daily life did not develop from a previous separation of orality and writing, but from a communications network not unlike our own, if slower, and similarly shaped by disparities of access. Truth and Tales: Cultural Mobility and Medieval Media, edited by Fiona Somerset and Nicholas Watson, develops a variety of approaches to the labor of imaginatively reconstructing this network from its extant artifacts.
Truth and Tales includes fourteen essays by medieval literary scholars and historians. Some essays focus on written artifacts that convey high or popular learning in unexpected ways. Others address a social problem of concern to all, demonstrating the genres and media through which it was negotiated. Still others are centered on one or more texts, detailing their investments in popular as well as learned knowledge, in performance as well as writing. This collective archaeology of medieval media provides fresh insight for medieval scholars and media theorists alike.
Thomas Remington discusses the methods used by the Communist Party to manage communications in Soviet society. Covering literature produced by Soviet scholars from the 1970s and 1980s, that studies the organization, content, usage, and impact of propaganda, Remington views how Party officials intrinsically manage the structure of the Soviet communications system, through rhetoric of both conservatism and reform.