My Outside Area Exam List: “Media Studies and Religion”

This is the third of four posts which include my various exam lists for my preliminary exams. This exam is in my “outside area” of Media studies. There’s some great theory on here as well as a lot of  stuff dealing with ethnography and representation. It is a little light on the religion side but that’s the point of the “outside” in the title, I guess. The anthropological emphasis of the exam really pushes it into a true “outside area” for a historian like me. As before, if you’re interested in conversation about something you see here, let me know.

Michael J. Altman

Outside Area Exam- Media Studies

I. Theory

Adorno, Theodor W, and M. Horkheimer. 1977. “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as mass deception.” Pp. 350-383 in Mass Communication and Society, edited by James Curran, Michael Gurevitch, and Janet Woollacott. London: Edward Arnold.

Appadurai, Arjun. 1991. “Global Ethnoscapes: Notes and Queries for a Transnational Anthropology.” Pp. 191-210 in Recapturing Anthropology, edited by Richard G. Fox. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.

Baudrillard, Jean. 1980. “The Implosion of Meaning in the Media and the Implosion of the Social in the Masses.” Pp. 137-148 in The Myths of Information: Technology and Postindustrial Culture, edited by Kathleen Woodward. Madison: Coda Press.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1993. The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature / Re Bourdieu ; Edited and Introduced by Randal Johnson. edited by Randal Johnson. New York: Columbia University Press.

Fairclough, Norman. 1995. Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language / an Fairclough. London: Longman.

Fowler, Roger. 1991. Language in the News: Discourse and Ideology in the Press. London: Routledge.

Goffman, Erving. 1981. Forms of Talk. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Hall, Stuart. 1980. “Encoding / Decoding.” Pp. 128-138 in Culture, Media, Language, edited by Stuart Hall, Dorothy Hobson, Andrew Lowe, and Paul Willis. London: Hutchinson.

McQuail, Denis. 2010. McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory. Sixth Edition. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Spitulnik, Debra. 1993. “Anthropology and Mass Media.” Annual Review of Anthropology 293-315.

Spitulnik, Debra. 1999. “Media.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9:148-151.

II. Discourse

Bakhtin, M. M. 1981. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. edited by Michael Holquist. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Foucault, Michel. 1972. The Archaeology of Knowledge ; and, The Discourse on Language. New York: Pantheon Books.

Richardson, John E. 2007. Analysing Newspapers: An Approach from Critical Discourse Analysis. Basingstoke [England]: Palgrave Macmillan.

Wodak, Ruth. 1999. The Discursive Construction of National Identity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Woods, Nicola. 2006. Describing Discourse: A Practical Guide to Discourse Analysis. London: Hodder Arnold.

III. Representation

Karp, Ivan, and Steven Lavine, eds. 1991. Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display / Ed by Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavine. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Lutz, Catherine, and Jane Lou Collins. 1993. Reading National Geographic. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

MacCannell, Dean. 1992. Empty Meeting Grounds: The Tourist Papers. London: Routledge.

Pratt, Mary Louise. 2008. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. 2nd ed. London: Routledge.

Tomlinson, John. 1991. Cultural Imperialism: A Critical Introduction. London: Pinter Publishers.

IV. Religion

Hoover, Stewart M. 2006. Religion in the Media Age. London: Routledge.

Richardson, John E. 2004. (Mis)representing Islam: The Racism and Rhetoric of British Broadsheet Newspapers. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub.

Rothenbuhler, Eric W. 1998. Ritual Communication: From Everyday Conversation to Mediated Ceremony. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Rothenbuhler, Eric W, and Mihai Coman, eds. 2005. Media Anthropology. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage.

Silk, Mark. 1995. Unsecular Media: Making News of Religion in America. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Walton, Jonathan L. 2009. Watch This!: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Black Televangelism. New York: New York University Press.

V. Ethnogprahy / Anthropology

Abu-Lughod, Lila. 2005. Dramas of Nationhood: The Politics of Television in Egypt. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Couldry, Nick. 2007. Media Consumption and Public Engagement: Beyond the Presumption of Attention. New York, N.Y: Palgrave Macmillan.

Dornfeld, Barry. 1998. Producing Public Television, Producing Public Culture. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.

Hannerz, Ulf. 2004. Foreign News: Exploring the World of Foreign Correspondents. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Kosnick, Kira. 2007. Migrant Media: Turkish Broadcasting and Multicultural Politics In Berlin. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Mankekar, Purnima. 1999. Screening Culture, Viewing Politics: An Ethnography of Television, Womanhood, and Nation in Postcolonial India. Durham, N.C: Duke University Press.

Peterson, Mark. 2003. Anthropology and Mass Communication : Media and Myth in the New Millenium. Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Radway, Janice. 1974. “Interpretive Communities and Variable Literacies.” Daedalus 113:49-73.

Radway, Janice. 1988. “Reception Study: Ethnographyand the problem of disperesed audiences and nomadic subjects.” Cultural Studies 2:359-376.

Spitulnik, Debra. 1993. “Anthropology and Mass Media.” Annual Review of Anthropology 293-315.

Spitulnik, Debra. “Thick Context, Deep Epistemology: A Meditiation on Wide-Angle Lenses on Media, Knowledge Production, and the Concept of Culture.” in Theorising Media and Practice, edited by B. Brauchler and J. Postill. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Spitulnik, Debra. 1998. “Mediated Modernities: Encounters with the Electronic in Zambia.” Visual Anthropology Review 14:63-84.

Spitulnik, Debra. 2002. “Mobile Machines and Fluid Audiences: Rethinking Reception through Zambian Radio Culture.” in Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain, edited by Faye Ginsburg, Lila Abu-Lughod, and Brian Larkin. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Tacchi, Jo. 1998. “Radio Texture: Between Self and Others.” Pp. 25-45 in Material Cultures: Why Some Things Matter, edited by Daniel Miller. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

VI. Post-Print Media

Baron, Naomi S. 2008. Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jenkins, Henry. 2006. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press.

Morley, David. 1980. The Nationwide Audience: Structure and Decoding. London: British Film Institute.

Tolson, Andrew. 2006. Media Talk: Spoken Discourse on TV and Radio. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Burning Man, Green Acre, and Ritual in U.S. Religious History (Cross-Post))

This is a cross-post from the Religion in American History Blog.

This morning I came across an interview with Lee Gilmore at Religion Dispatches where she discusses her new bookTheater in a Crowded Fire: Ritual and Spirituality at Burning Man (UC Press).  The full interview deserves a read, especially the story of how she came upon the books title, but what jumped out to me were the following portions:

This decadent ritualism, which can be both sincere and satirical, casts the festival as a semi-religious cultural happening. Furthermore, many participants describe Burning Man as a “spiritual” experience, but deny that it constitutes a new religious movement as such. Organizers too explicitly hope that the event will “produce positive spiritual change in the world,” even while they also stop short of characterizing the event as “religious.” My work sought to explore the tension between “spirituality” and “religion” in the narratives of Burning Man participants in order to better understand how religio-cultural systems operate and adapt.

The popular term “spiritual but not religious” only goes so far in describing an event like this. I think Burning Man shows us the enduring importance of ritual as a vehicle through which humans connect with one another and as well as with a mysterious “more,” while also showing us how these expressions are increasingly displaced outside the bounds of the dominant Western cultural concepts of “religion.” Burning Man is on the vanguard of contemporary religious movements that resist easy classification by favoring eclecticism and hybridity. Yet in articulating a clear ethos that places a core emphasis on building and supporting community—both inside and outside the confines of the week-long event—Burning Man manages to be individualistic and idiosyncratic without being solipsistic.

I haven’t read Gilmore’s book, though I’m really excited about it after reading the interview, but it did remind me of something I had just finished re-reading.  I’m in the midst of that wonderful summertime project known as “studying for comprehensive exams” and I just finished going back through Leigh Eric Schmidt’s Restless Souls: The Birth of American Spirituality.  In that book, Schmidt has a great chapter on the Green Acre community founded by Sarah Farmer in Eliot, Maine.  But when reading the chapter recently I was struck by what little material Schmidt gives on the ritual practice of the community  There are a few mentions of morning walks on the dewy grass and meditation and a great narrative of the history of the community and its participants but I never got a picture of what life was like on daily basis within the commnunity.  Perhaps that information just isn’t in the record and I don’t mean to take pot shots at an important book.  Rather, I merely want to speculate that the same ritual life represented by Burning Man has antecedents in Green Acre.  I bet Schmidt would grant that, as well.

But to push it further, as Lee makes the point above, certain rituals associated with the “spiritual not religious” challenge the notion of what counts as “religion” in American culture and, I would argue, push historians of religion to reconsider ritual as the central category for these post-non-Protestant forms of the sacred in America.  The point that belief has been central to narratives of American religious history is worn out, but I think that as we begin to reconsider and write the history of religion in America during the latter half of the 20th century into the 21st we may have shift our consideration to ritual.  Many people have done this and continue to do this.  But the challenge is not to simply adopt existing definitions of ritual and write them into our histories, but rather to use the diversity of sacred phenomenon in American history to reconsider the category of ritual and its relationship w/ things like belief, myth, identity, etc.

Look out for more on this when I get my hands on Lee’s book.


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