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UMass Amherst COMM 121 - How to Do Media History

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COMM 121 1st Edition Lecture 5Previous Lecture Notes Outline:I. Capitalist RealismII. Making the mass audienceIII. Evolution of yellow press into newspaperIV. Newspapers and advertisementCurrent Lecture Notes Outline:I. Media history vs. media historiographyII. Major approaches to media historyIII. Medias affect on reorganizationIV. Timeline of the birth of different media formsV. Cultural and economic factors influencing newspaper developmentVI. From “specialist” to mass pressVII. From traditional to industrial modes of livingVIII. A socio-cultural conclusionCommunications 121 – Lecture on Thursday 2/5“How to do media history”I.- Media history asks: how and why did the U.S. develop?- Media historiography asks: how should we address questions of media history?- What are the best approaches?- What matters most in constructing a history (or histories) of media in the U.S.?II. Major Approaches to Media History:- Technological Determinist: Technologies are the dominant, determining factor determining social change (C&H definition: 299)- The “billiard ball” approach- Socio-cultural Determinist: technology is one of many forces, influenced by and influencing social, economic, and cultural developments- Also known as “social constructionist”*Read Brian Winston’s quote found on quote sheet from week 3 – standpoints on filmstock as technology from technological and socio-cultural determinists are comparedand contrasted.* “Looking at Shirley, the Ultimate Norm: Color Balance, Image Technologies, andCognitive Equity” by Lorna Roth found on Moodle under week 3 tab: Discussing theoriginal Shirley and Kodak’s slow evolution from producing film and perfecting onlythe colors of white skin to perfecting all colors of all ethnicities’ skin.III. This section of the course: tells the story of a media form (e.g. the telegraph) interms of how it was used to reorganize how people and groups live, survive, understandourselves and others“Social, cultural, and, economic story”VI. Rough timeline by form:1880 1890 1900 1920 1940 1980 1990Newspaper--------------------------------------------------- Movies---------------------------------------------- Radio----------------------------- TV--------------------- Cable---------InternetNote: each continues as others arriveBut:- The timeline is not the history of the story of a form in social context- Lets return to early newspaper examplesV. Cultural and economic factors influencing newspaper development:Mid-1700s: two kinds of newspapers1. Commercial2. PoliticalWhy? Who/what were newspapers for?- High cost of subscription meant specialized readership of merchants andeconomic leaders- Papers also produced by political parties- Read Schudson’s quote on week 2 quote sheet: Discusses the beginning ofnewspapers and it’s original characteristics.VI. From specialist to “mass” press (as we discussed last class, by the 1880s):Why?- U.S. population reorganization by (1) urban labor migration, (2) Europeanimmigration- In 1850, 80% of U.S. population lived in rural areas- In 1900, 50% of U.S. population lived in rural areas- A 40% drop (give or take) in rural population distribution in only 50 years (a blip)VII. From traditional to industrial modes of living:Traditional:- Communal emphasis- Oral communication with everyday contacto Distance had a large impact on contact, you would mainlycommunicate with those around you. Only if you had means ofgetting to someone physically, could you communicate with them.- Integration in face-to-face groups (family, church, for some, in school)- From childhood through adulthood in the same communityo Little to no re-location- Little need for mediated communicationIndustrial:- Geographical movement of population from childhood to adulthood- From extended to nuclear familyo Used to live with cousins, aunts, grandparents, etc. Now weusually only live with a two generation family in one house usuallychildren and their parents- Less long term integration and reliance on face-to-face contact in churches,communities- New social needs for communication forms to connect peopleo We are not in face-to-face range with all of the people we want tocommunicate with anymore.o This does not diminish desire for contact, but it may diminishquality of contact.- Read Raymond Williams’ quote on week 3 and 4 quote sheet: discussesEngland and it’s older grounding institutions. Along with the period of changeand how it affected how we communicate and the emphasis we put on doing it.VII. A socio-cultural conclusion:- From commercial/party press to mass medium following changes in populationdistribution and new modes of


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