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Communicating Memory & History

Edited By Nicole Maurantonio and David W. Park

Communicating Memory & History takes as its mission the job of giving communication history its full due in the study of memory. Taking three keywords—communication, history, and memory—representing related, albeit at times hostile, fields of inquiry as its point of departure, this book asks how the interdisciplinary field of memory studies can be productively expanded through the work of communication historians. Across the chapters of this book, contributors employ methods ranging from textual analysis to reception studies to prompt larger questions about how the past can be alternately understood, contested, and circulated.

Communicating Memory & History is ideal for teaching, including case studies that elaborate different ways to approach issues in memory studies. While some foundational knowledge would be useful, it is possible to use the text without extensive knowledge of the literature. This book is of particular interest to professors, graduate students, and advanced undergraduate students of communication and media studies, as well as scholars and students in cultural studies, history, and sociology—disciplines where one finds steady consideration of issues related to communication, communication history, and memory.

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Section IV: Audience


Audiences have long been treated in western culture as a thing to be controlled, even feared. In the context of the U.S., Richard Butsch has historicized the media audience, ultimately demonstrating that discourse about the media audience has treated the audience as a crowd, a mass, and occasionally as a public.1 Media scholarship is closely entangled with all of these ways of treating the audience. Herta Herzog, a pioneer in audience research, offered a rather unflattering picture of the radio audience, one that derived from Herzog’s suspicions regarding the true nature of the appeal of radio serials.2 Later audience-focused scholarship in media studies often followed in the more sanguine approach to the audience suggested by Elihu Katz, Jay G. Blumer, and Michael Gurevitch’s observations regarding so-called “uses and gratifications research,” with its emphasis on taking as legitimate audience members’ own stated reasons for their media habits.3 By the 1980s it had become commonplace for media scholars to adopt a stance toward the audience that derived in large part from cultural studies, often treating audience response in terms of its capacity for ‘resistance’ to a dominant ideology.4

The history of the audience in communication history takes on some of the trappings associated with this par-boiled narrative of the history of audience research. Though much media history has been focused upon the workings of media industries, media production, media policy, and of course media texts, the history of the media audience is now a proud and booming subfield...

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