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The Age of Television: Experiences and Theories - Book Review

Autor:   •  March 8, 2011  •  Book/Movie Report  •  535 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,965 Views

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Has Television Studies come of age? The signs are all there. First, there is a stream of excellent

new work from up-and-coming scholars in many countries; many of them also active in forums like Flow,

Unboxing TV, and In Media Res.2 Second, perhaps less welcome, we can discern a seemingly irresistible

surge to hyper-specialisation, where scholarship in (say) a particular genre, region, period, or theme is

not seen as part of a larger field, but where such a list describes a series of different, barely

interconnected fields. And third, in direct contradiction, because a mature field attracts both "lumpers"

and "splitters,"3 analysers and synthesisers, there is at last a possibility of conceptualizing the field as a

unified whole.

History tells us that the maturation of TV Studies may also signal the end of television, at least as

we know it. Cinema Studies came of age only after the movies had ceased to be the most popular

medium. Before that, Literary Studies4 became established at universities only after the daily press had

overtaken novels and book publishing ("penny dreadfuls" and pulp fiction) in popularity. There was no

such thing as Radio Studies during the golden age of broadcasting. Could it be that the generative edge of

popular culture is too dynamic to be reduced to a settled scientific field of knowledge? If so, the

emergence of a new disciplinary domain like Television Studies would be a sure sign that television itself

has been dethroned as the most popular medium. Like publishing, cinema, and radio broadcasting before

it, TV will, of course, enjoy a long afterlife beyond its heyday. But the thing that brought many to study

television in the first place, namely a popular reach,


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