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Media Studies

Media Studies refers to the broad range of interdisciplinary subjects focusing on media culture and production.


Media Studies refers to the broad range of interdisciplinary subjects focusing on media culture and production. This may include media theory; game studies & design; communication & culture; telecommunications & communication science; media production, design, & aesthetics; mass media & popular culture; film & cinema studies, including the history & culture thereof; identity & representation; policy, copyright, and other legal frameworks; media ecology; journalism and the news, public relations and advertising, among many others. This subject area may also maintain commitments to sociocultural concerns relevant to information technology, such as the surveillance economy, social media, and other forms of technologically mediated interactions.

Media studies may and often does intersect with other fields, including philosophy, literary & social theory, art history & criticism, and cultural studies, et al.

This guide comprises resources and information relevant to students within the IU Media School, as well as those engaging with media, generally, in their research. Scholars of media often find themselves working with and across a variety frameworks, both regional and global; formats, both analog (filmvideocassettes/DVDs) and digital; and styles, from radio programming to movies, from television to video games, and beyond.

Featured | The Sounds of Black History Month

In recognition and celebration of Black History Month in February, we have created a series of curated playlists designed to celebrate the voices, innovations, and influence of black artists and musicians across music history. 

The first in our series of playlists, titled “Masterpiece,” explores a variety of genres and musical movements traditionally recognized as being driven by black artistry and innovation, genres that provide a space for the voices of black artists to be heard and celebrated. This playlist focuses on key figures in pop, jazz, soul, funk, r&b, and hip hop, spanning from the mid-20th century to the present day.

In addition to this more general playlist, we also created three other playlists that offer deep dives into genres where black voices and influence are often obscured or overlooked: including rock music, celebrating black pioneers in punk, metal, and other rock music movements; folk and country, where black contributions to the evolution of folk and country music into popular culture is centered; and electronic, where we highlight key black contributors to the evolution of electronic music in all its many sub-genres.

Provided in tandem with these playlists are library and freely available resources to aid in the further exploration and celebration of black contributions to contemporary popular music and culture. 

Resources for Further Exploration
Archives of African American Music and Culture (AAAMC at IU) - repository of materials covering a range of African American musical idioms and cultural expressions from the post-World War II era

Black Grooves - music review site hosted by the Archives of African American Music & Culture (AAAMC) at Indiana University

The Black Music History Library - a living collection of books, articles, documentaries, series, podcasts and more about the Black origins of traditional and popular music dating from the 18th century to present day.

Beyond the Playlist
As with many of these national commemorations, one month is never enough time to fully honor and celebrate the history and culture of marginalized communities, let alone heal the legacies (and ongoing reality) of harm they've experienced. We recognize that there is much more to be done, that racism and anti-blackness can't be eliminated simply through the creation of resource guides, and that the work of realizing justice won't soon be over. But nevertheless, we keep trying, contributing how we can and building upon the efforts of those who came before us, and we continue to learn from and with one another.

If you'd like to engage more deeply with Black History Month, the IU Libraries Arts & Humanities department has created a number of interrelated resources and features to provide more holistic coverage of this remembering. You'll find those, below:

And for all things Black culture, you can never go wrong with the resources, services, and collections of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library.

Additionally, throughout the '21 spring semester, our department is hosting an ongoing Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge. This program encourage participants to engage with items from our collections that will facilitate and deepen their awareness of a variety of social justice issues, and features a number of titles relevant to Black History Month. If you'd like to join us, take a look at the Challenge Guide.

For the other three playlists in our Black History Month feature we will focus on the voices and innovations of black artists in genres where they are often overlooked, or excluded. To start, we present here a curated list of Rock musicians and bands from the genre’s inception to the present day. Here, we illustrate and outline a handful of the black artists who drove the genre forward, keeping it fresh into the new decade, from rock, to punk, to metal, and back again.

Playlist Resources & Further Reading

Continuing in our celebration of contributions and innovations by black artists to genres wherein their voices are often forgotten or overlooked, we present a curated playlist of black songs that have influenced and driven the sounds of folk and country music for over a hundred years.

Playlist Resources & Further Reading

Our final playlist in our Black History Month series explores the contributions and innovations made by black musicians in the rapidly evolving electronic music genre. While much debate exists over the true beginnings of music made entirely with electronic instruments, one thing that is certain is black artists have been at the forefront of exploring the capabilities of electronic compositions, pushing the types of music that can be created entirely with synthetic instruments to new heights with each decade.

Playlist Resources & Further Reading

Recent Additions

cover of book described. title and author information, image depicts a map against a black background

Circle in the Darkness

Circle in the Darkness recounts veteran journalist Diana Johnstone's lifelong effort to understand what is going on in the world, seeking the truth about our troubled times beyond the veils of government propaganda and media deception. For Johnstone, the political is personal. From her experience of Cold War hostilities as a student in Yugoslavia, in the movement against the U.S. war against Vietnam, in May '68, in professional and alternative journalism, in the historic peace movement of the 1980s that led to the reunification of Germany, in the transformation of the German Greens from peace to war party and the European Union's sacrifice of democracy to "globalization", her critical viewpoint dissects events and identifies trends. She recounts in detail how the Western left betrayed its historical principles of social justice and peace and let itself be lured into approval of aggressive U.S.-NATO wars on the fallacious grounds of "human rights". Subjects range from caustic analysis of the pretentious confusion of French philosophers to the stories of many courageous individuals whose struggle for peace and justice ended in deep personal tragedy, with a great deal in between.Circle in the Darkness is a lucid, uncompromising tour through half a century of contemporary history intended especially for those who may aspire against all obstacles to change its course for the better.

cover of book described. author and title text over painting of cityscape

Decades Decline Cinemas Cinema-Going U

Cinema-going was the most popular commercial leisure activity in the United Kingdom during the first half of the twentieth century, with attendance growing significantly during World War II and peaking in 1946 with 1.6 billion recorded admissions. Though "going to the pictures" remained a popular pastime for the remainder of the forties, the transition from war to peacetime altered citizens' leisure habits. During the fifties, a range of factors led to rapid declines in attendance, and by 1965, admissions had plummeted to 327 million. Cinema attendance fell in all regions, but the speed, nature, and extent of this decline varied widely across the United Kingdom. By presenting detailed case studies of two similarly-sized industrial cities, Belfast and Sheffield, this book adds nuance and detail to the discussion of regional variations in film exhibition and audience habits. Using a wide range of sources, such as oral testimony, box-office data, newspapers, and trade journals, Cinemas and Cinema-Going in the United Kingdom conveys the diverse and ever-changing nature of the cinema industry.

cover of book described. author and title text in white over brown background, with black and white photo centered

Cinema in China Prior to WWI

This book looks at the earliest history of exhibiting firms in China at the turn of the century. The spread of cinema in China as a continuation of the lantern tradition is contextualized and conventionalized in the late Qing sociopolitical milieu, featuring a strong foreign monopoly and regional imbalance. However, the key element for cinema's development in China is Chinese audience per se. "The book has produced something truly remarkable and tremendous." --Frank Bren "The work offers a lot of new insights into the history of the cinema in China. Though the film business was brought from abroad to the mainland, the candidate was never nationalistic in her approach to the phenomenon of foreign entertainment in China." --Wolfgang Kubin "The author painstakingly combed through a large number of historical newspapers, especially English-language newspapers published both in and outside China, and pieced together a convincing picture of the earliest history of Chinese cinema." --Xuelei Huang

cover of book described. author and title text in white on black background, with abstract image at the top, featuring a collage of ands and other abstract imagery

Cinema and Intermediality

Within the last two decades intermediality has emerged as one of the most challenging concepts in media theory with no shortage of various taxonomies and definitions. What prompted the writing of the essays gathered in this volume, however, was not a desire for more classifications applied to the world of moving pictures, but a strong urge to investigate what the inter- implied by the idea of intermediality stands for, and what it actually entails in the cinema. The book offers in each of the individual chapters a cross-section view of specific instances in which cinema seems to consciously position itself in-between media and arts, employing techniques that tap into the multimedial complexity of cinema, and bring into play the tensions generated by media differences.

cover of book described. Title and author text over image of actor holding a bouquet

Cheer Up!

Cheer Up! is the first book to deal exclusively with the British musical film from the very beginning of talking pictures in the late 1920s through the Depression of the 1930s up to the end of World War II. 

cover of book described. Title and author text in white over red background, with image of a surgical procedure at the top.

Caught In-Between

Explores the intermedial poetics of the post-communist cinemas of Eastern Europe and Russia Provides in-depth and comparative analyses of films, with case studies covering fiction films, documentaries, avant-garde experiments, arthouse movies and mainstream cinema Cinematic case studies are drawn from Romania, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Russia Discusses different strategies of intermediality and covers the analysis of a wide range of intermedial and inter-art phenomena, including the relationship between film and painting, film and sculpture, film and photography, cinema and the graphic novel, words and images and images and music This collection of essays explores intermediality as a new perspective in the interpretation of the cinemas that have emerged after the collapse of the former Eastern bloc. 

cover of book described. title and author text over a background designed to look like an old music ticket.

Body, Capital, and Screens

Body, Capital and Screens: Visual Media and the Healthy Self in the 20th Century brings together new research from leading scholars from Europe and North America working at the intersection of film and media studies and social and cultural history of the body. The volume focuses on visual media in the twentieth century in Europe and the U.S. that informed and educated people about life and health as well as practices improving them. Through a series of in-depth case studies, the contributors to this volume investigate the relationships between film/television, private and public actors of the health sector and economic developments. The book explores the performative and interactive power of these visual media on individual health understandings, perceptions and practices. Body, Capital and Screens aims to better understand how bodily health has evolved as a form of capital throughout the century.

cover of book described. title and author text over white background with a yellow symbol representing the blockage or prohibition of an action

Beyond Post-Communication

While many analyses have examined disinformation in recent election campaigns, misuse of 'big data' such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and manipulation by bots and algorithms, most have blamed a few bad actors. This incisive analysis presents evidence of deeper and broader corruption of the public sphere, which the author refers to as post-communication. With extensive evidence, Jim Macnamara argues that we are all responsible for the slide towards a post-truth society. This analysis looks beyond high profile individuals such as Donald Trump, Russian trolls, and even 'Big Tech' to argue that the professionalized communication industries of advertising, PR, political and government communication, and journalism, driven by clickbait and aided by a lack of critical media literacy, have systematically contributed to disinformation, deception, and manipulation. When combined with powerful new communication technologies, artificial intelligence, and lack of regulation, this has led to a 'perfect data storm'. Accordingly, Macnamara proposes that there is no single solution. Rather, he identifies a range of strategies for communication professionals, industry associations, media organizations and platforms, educators, legislators, regulators, and citizens to challenge post-communication and post-truth.

Arab Media and the Politics of Terrorism

Terrorism inspires intense emotions of fear, vulnerability, victimization, and helplessness that breed humiliation and shame and demands for redress by the victims--restoring the wounded honor through revenge and military action. The post-9/11 environment of the "global war on terrorism" has exacerbated these vicious cycles of conflict. It also created a media battleground in which conflating Islam with terrorism and deploying a religious lexicon of jihad, martyrdom, and sacrifice have become routine. Yet, scholarship on the relationship between Arab media and terrorism is sparse--despite the salience of terrorism and other forms of politically motivated violence in the greater Middle East and North Africa region. How does Arab news cover "home-grown" or domestic terrorism in comparison to terrorist incidents that might be geographically distant? How does globalization influence the mediation of terrorism in Arab news? This book addresses these lacunae and features a wide range of studies examining coverage of terrorism in Arab media. The case studies investigate technological, political, sociological, and legal infrastructures influencing the ways Arab media make sense of terrorism and international conflict events. The research contributes to the understanding of news frames as central to how terrorism news operates, constructs and thereby explains the social world through familiar master narratives drawn from the region's culture and history.

All Media Are Social

From TV to smartphone apps to movies to newspapers, mass media are nearly omnipresent in contemporary life and act as a powerful social institution. In this introduction to media sociology, Lindner and Barnard encourage readers to think critically about the power of big media companies, state-media relations, new developments in journalism, representations of race, class, gender, and sexuality in media, and what social media may or may not be doing to our brains, among other topics. Each chapter explores pressing questions about media by carefully excavating the results of classic and contemporary social scientific studies. The authors bring these findings to life with anecdotes and examples ripped from headlines and social media newsfeeds. By synthesizing research on new media and traditional media, entertainment media and news, quantitative and qualitative studies, All Media Are Social offers a succinct and accessibly-written analysis of both enduring patterns and some of the newest developments in mass media. With strong emphases on theory and methods, Lindner and Barnard provide students and general readers alike with the tools to better understand the ever-changing media landscape.

All Media Studies Guides

Contributors' Notes

Brett Hoffman (he/him) - Arts & Humanities Library Assistant

Wendy Lee Spaček (she/her) - Arts & Humanities Library Assistant