Reading Television

Reading Television

Reading Television

Reading Television

Synopsis

Reading Television was the first book to push the boundaries of television studies beyond the insights offered by cultural studies and textual analysis, creating a vibrant new field of study. Using the tools and techniques in this book, it is possible for everyone with a television set to analyze both the programmes, and the culture which produces them. In this edition, Hartley reflects on recent developments in television studies, and includes suggestions for further reading. His new foreword underlines the continuing relevance of this foundational text in the study of contemporary culture.

Excerpt

No doubt a third General Editor’s Preface to New Accents seems hard to justify. What is there left to say? Twenty-five years ago, the series began with a very clear purpose. Its major concern was the newly perplexed world of academic literary studies, where hectic monsters called ‘Theory’, ‘Linguistics’ and ‘Politics’ ranged. In particular, it aimed itself at those undergraduates or beginning postgraduate students who were either learning to come to terms with the new developments or were being sternly warned against them.

New Accents deliberately took sides. Thus the first Preface spoke darkly, in 1977, of ‘a time of rapid and radical social change’, of the ‘erosion of the assumptions and presuppositions’ central to the study of literature. ‘Modes and categories inherited from the past’ it announced, ‘no longer seem to fit the reality experienced by a new generation’. The aim of each volume would be to ‘encourage rather than resist the process of change’ by combining nuts-and-bolts exposition of new ideas with clear and detailed explanation of related conceptual developments. If mystification (or downright demonisation) was the enemy, lucidity (with a nod to the compromises inevitably at stake there) became a friend. If a ‘distinctive discourse of the future’ beckoned, we wanted at least to be able to understand it.

With the apocalypse duly noted, the second Preface proceeded . . .

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