Books -- Television: Critical Methods and Applications by Jeremy G. Butler

Article excerpt

* Butler, Jeremy G. (1994). Television: Critical Methods and Applications. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Publishing Co. 369 pp. Paperback.

If you are looking for a book that explains what television "means," Jeremy Butler's Television: Critical Methods and Applications would be a good choice. Butler succeeds in providing students (and other readers) with "a toolbox of implements to disassemble television."

Butler, an associate professor at the University of Alabama, wrote 11 of the book's 13 chapters. Television is divided into four parts. Part One ("Understanding Television's Structures and Systems") deals with the structure of the various television genres, and the role of characters/actors and stars. Part Two ("Television's Style: Image and Sound") examines the way production elements (mise-en-scene, cinematography, videography, editing, sound, and technology) had to be used and are used to convey messages and meanings. Part Three ("Special Topics in Television Form") discusses music television and television animation/cartoons. Part Four ("Alternatives to Empirical Study") provides an overview of approaches to studying television beyond who land how many) watched what when. Butler also includes a sample analysis to show how it is all done. Television covers the major forms of American commercial television, including music television, sports, game shows, network and local newscasts, and non-narrative commercials. The only genre missing is the infomercial.

One admirable feature of the book is its discussion of how television built on models from the radio and motion picture industries as television sought to find itself. Consequently, Television gives the reader information on economics and history not always taught. …


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