Book Reviews -- Fifties Television by William Boddy / Make Room for TV by Lynn Spigel

By Allen, Craig | Journalism History, Winter 1994 | Go to article overview

Book Reviews -- Fifties Television by William Boddy / Make Room for TV by Lynn Spigel


Allen, Craig, Journalism History


With 500-channel interactive media networks and an "electronic superhighway" on the horizon, an issue in television historiography is the relevance of TV's two-network early period. While quite different in approach, the works of William Boddy and Lynn Spigel both attempt to retrace the origins of the medium in the context of its recent upheaval. Spigel's is the more stimulating of the two books. Yet each makes an impressive case for why TV's Golden Age will remain meaningful, regardless of where the "electronic superhighway" may lead.

The authors' differing approaches are illustrated in each book's opening pages, where attention is given to whether economic and political factors were the true determinants of TV's early development. Boddy embraces the traditional economic-political parameters and thus offers a traditional interpretation. In contrast, Spigel questions "economic and political causes" and argues that it was what occurred at the receiving end, in "the home," that shaped "television's cultural form."

By examining the origins of TV from the perspective of audience effects, Spigel, an assistant professor at the School of Cinema-TV at the University of Southern California, provides numerous original and thought-provoking insights. Her major achievement is in situating television in the progression of events that advanced the so-called "cult of domesticity," which accompanied the industrial revolution and began to flourish in the United States after the turn of the century. She gives substantial attention to Hollywood's shift from theaters to in-home television distribution and the effect this had on Americans. What she refers to as the "home theater"--television-substituted "for traditional forms of community life and social relations."

After describing at length specific episodes of popular situation comedies, including about ten episodes of "I Love Lucy," Spigel maintains the "early sitcoms typically depicted the family as a theater troupe rather than as a 'real family.'"

A particular benefit of Spigel's work is her broad source work. In addition to reviewing scores of TV broadcasts, she conducted a content analysis of "home" and "women's" magazines published between 1948 and 1955. After examining the ads of television set manufacturers in these magazines, she finds striking similarities between the early promotional ploys and those today used by entrepreneurs in boosting the acceptance of cable TV and video technology. In the 1950s, people were encouraged to purchase TVs because these devices "solve[d] social problems" and "replace[d] the doldrums of everyday life with thrilling...spectacles." That these strategies continued in the 1990s may signal an extension of the cult of domesticity. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Book Reviews -- Fifties Television by William Boddy / Make Room for TV by Lynn Spigel
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.