300 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Media and Communications about their New Books

New Books in Communications New Books Network

    • Social Sciences

Interviews with Scholars of Media and Communications about their New Books

    Keri Holt, "Reading These United States: Federal Literacy in the Early Republic, 1776-1830" (U Georgia Press, 2019)

    Keri Holt, "Reading These United States: Federal Literacy in the Early Republic, 1776-1830" (U Georgia Press, 2019)

    Keri Holt is the author of Reading These United States: Federal Literacy in the Early Republic, 1776-1830, published by the University of Georgia Press in 2019. Reading These United States explores how Americans read, saw, and understood the federal structure of the country in its early years. Drawing on a wide array of sources, from almanacs to textbooks, magazines to novels, and much more, Holt illustrates how Americans imagined their country not necessarily as one homogeneous nation, but as a union of states. Forging national character through local differences, Holt’s work sheds new light on the ways in which U.S. nationalism was created, inversely, by drawing lines between and separating Americans from themselves.
    Keri Holt is Associate Professor of English and American Studies at Utah State University.
    Derek Litvak is a Ph.D. student in the department of history at the University of Maryland.
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    • 37 min
    Jodie Jackson, “You Are What You Read: Why Changing Your Media Diet Can Change The World” (Unbound, 2019)

    Jodie Jackson, “You Are What You Read: Why Changing Your Media Diet Can Change The World” (Unbound, 2019)

    The old mantra “if it bleeds it leads” is alive and well in today’s media landscape. In fact, social media and up-to-the-second news have made it easier than ever to ingest a constant stream of information about the world. In her book, You Are What You Read: Why Changing Your Media Diet Can Change The World (Unbound, 2019), Jodie Jackson argues that this type of news consumption leads to feelings of anger and helplessness. The book, and this conversation, outline how solutions journalism provides an alternative that focuses on what working and aims to inspire readers instead of angering them.
    Jackson is not a journalist by training and became interested in the media after feeling overwhelmed by the news herself. She earned a master’s degree in psychology and now works with news organizations around the world to advocate for a solutions-oriented approach. Jodie talk about how a news consumer might go about changing their habits, and how solutions journalism does not equal fluffy or overly positive news coverage. Her book makes a compelling argument about re-evaluating media consumption that’s worth considering for journalism educators and news consumers alike.
    Jenna Spinelle is a journalism instructor at Penn State and host of the Democracy Works podcast, produced by Penn State’s McCourtney Institute for Democracy.
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    • 40 min
    Helen Taylor, "Why Women Read Fiction: The Stories of Our Lives" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Helen Taylor, "Why Women Read Fiction: The Stories of Our Lives" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Why and how is fiction important to women? In Why Women Read Fiction: The Stories of Our Lives (Oxford University Press, 2020), Helen Taylor, Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Exeter, explores this question to give a detailed and engaging picture of fiction in women’s lives. The book presents women’s narratives about fiction, interpretations of key texts, and perspectives on writers and the publishing industry. As the book makes clear, reading is not just another hobby for women, as it occupies a crucial role in women’s lives. Full of examples and women’s stories of how reading matters, discussions of gender and genre, the role of women as authors, along with analysis of book clubs and literary festivals, the book is essential reading across the humanities, social sciences, and for anyone interested in reading!
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    • 32 min
    Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, "The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games" (NYU Press, 2019)

    Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, "The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games" (NYU Press, 2019)

    Ebony Elizabeth Thomas has written a beautiful, captivating, and thoughtful book about the idea of our imaginations, especially our cultural imaginations, and the images and concepts that we all consume, especially as young readers and audience members. The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games (NYU Press, 2019) dives into the question of, as Thomas explains, “why magical stories are written for some people and not for others.” Thomas explores the narratives of magical and fantastical stories, especially ones that currently dominate our Anglo-American cultural landscape, and discerns a kind of “imagination gap” in so many of these literary and visual artifacts. The Dark Fantastic provides a framework to consider this imagination gap, by braiding together scholarship from across a variety of disciplines to think about this space within literature and visual popular culture. Thomas theorizes a tool to examine many of these narratives, the cycle through which to contextualize the Dark Other within these fantastical narratives, noting that the Dark Other is the “engine that drives the fantastic.”
    The Dark Fantastic spends time analyzing and interrogating a variety of televisual and cinematic artifacts, noting how the Dark Other cycle operates in each of these narratives. In exploring these narratives, and considering who the protagonist is in so many cultural artifacts, the imagination gap becomes not only obvious but quite distinct. Thomas is concerned about this gap, because of the implication it has for readers and for film and television viewers—not only in regard to representation, but also in terms of learning how to imagine, how to dream, how to think conceptually, and how to center one’s self within these fictional spaces and created worlds.
    Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).
     
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    • 1 hr 6 min
    Stephen Benedict Dyson, "Imagining Politics: Interpretations in Political Science and Political Television" (U Michigan Press, 2019)

    Stephen Benedict Dyson, "Imagining Politics: Interpretations in Political Science and Political Television" (U Michigan Press, 2019)

    Stephen Dyson has provided a fascinating and engaging analysis of political science, the discipline, and political television in his new book, Imagining Politics: Interpretations in Political Science and Political Television (University of Michigan Press, 2019). By examining particular popular culture narratives, in this case, nine popular and engaging television series, Dyson is not only analyzing the tropes and themes of these series, but he is braiding them together with broader disciplinary frameworks and concepts from political science. Thus, this book presents dual interpretative perspectives—from political science and from televisual narratives. Dyson’s larger point is that politics itself is a form of narrative that political scientists attempt to explain and make sense of through our own narrative constructions by way of conceptual theories of interpretation. In so doing, Imagining Politics is weaving together fictional and non-fictional narratives to compel the reader to consider how we frame and think about our understanding of politics and how we explain politics, especially in a discipline largely developed and devoted to making sense out of public life within contemporary western democracies.
    Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012).
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    • 45 min
    Narges Bajoghli, "Iran Reframed: Anxieties of Power in the Islamic Republic" (Stanford UP, 2019)

    Narges Bajoghli, "Iran Reframed: Anxieties of Power in the Islamic Republic" (Stanford UP, 2019)

    Narges Bajoghli’s gripping new book Iran Reframed: Anxieties of Power in the Islamic Republic (Stanford UP, 2019) presents a riveting ethnography of pro-regime media networks in Iran, and sketches an intimate portrait of the actors, projects, and infrastructures invested in preserving and packaging the memory of the Islamic revolution 40 years later. Written with sparkling clarity, Iran Reframed provides its readers an unprecedented tour of the multiple sites, discourses, and social imaginaries that inform and define efforts of former members of the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij paramilitary organizations to forge narratives of nationalism that might connect with and affect the new generation across ideological divides. The biggest strength of this book is the layered complexity with which it presents its actors, and their conflictual aspirations and anxieties surrounding the encounter of media, memory, and revolutionary politics. This stunningly brilliant book will compel its readers to reconceptualize, rethink, and indeed reframe Iran, Iranian politics, and the interaction of memory, narrative, and the media more generally. Iran Reframed will also be a delight to teach in various undergraduate and graduate seminars on Religion and Media, Anthropology, Middle East Studies, Islamic Studies, Politics, and much more.
    SherAli Tareen is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His academic publications are available here. He can be reached at sherali.tareen@fandm.edu. Listener feedback is most welcome.
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    • 49 min

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