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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 | Indigenous Heritage & History Month - Indigenous Peoples' Playlist & Resources

In recognition of this month's celebration of indigenous history and culture, we present this curated playlist of Indigenous artists from the 20th and 21st centuries. Collected here are artists representing their heritage and identity in musical stylings varying from traditional to contemporary, spanning a spectrum of hip hop, metal, country, and experimental. Listen and explore a sampling of the vast contributions to modern American music by Indigenous peoples.

This list only serves as a diving point into the vast contributions to American and international popular music made by Indigenous artists. Join us in celebrating and exploring these genre defining (and defying) artists. Below the playlist, you'll find a comprehensive discussion of the context and history of the music we've highlighted, as well as a selection of resources for further reading on Indigenous music.

Beyond the Playlist
If you'd like to engage more deeply with the experience of Indigenous people within the context of Turtle Island, we've also curated a list of books, movies, databases, and podcasts to support further curiosity and learning. You can also find that list by clicking on the Indigenous Heritage & History Month box on the left-hand side of this page, in the navigation menu.

Additionally, as part of this celebration and remembering, there is also an introduction to Two-Spirit identity and the LGBTQIA Indigenous experience on the Gender Studies Research Guide and an overview of Indigenous Philosophy on the Philosophy Research Guide.

Our playlist moves throughout various points in North American musical history, with artists dating back to the early 20th century. In the early decades of jazz, Mildred Bailey (Cour de’Alene) emerged as a household name. Bailey started her singing career at 17 and went on to perform genre staples of the jazz giants of her time. In the late 1920s, blues music was being recorded and released to great popularity, and among the artists of this blues explosion was Charlie Patton (Choctaw). Hailed as the father of Delta Blues, Patton, of mixed (Black, white, and Indigenous) ancestry, pioneered the driving rhythms and impassioned vocals that became representative of blues music in the delta region and would lay the foundational groundwork for rock n roll musicians to come. 

Moving into the 1960s, Indigenous artists had an undeniable impact on popular music despite a lack of commercial success. Buffy Sainte-Marie, born on the Piapot 75 reserve and adopted by a Mi’kmaq family as an infant, gained notoriety in the New York folk scene for her impassioned and fiercely political compositions and performances. She penned hit anthems of the 1960s counterculture scene, including “Unknown Soldier” and “Cod’ine,” though she is seldom given credit where it is due. Further south along the east coast, rock n roll pioneer Link Wray (Cherokee and Shawnee) emerged with the single “Rumble” in 1958. Wray, born in North Carolina,, would change rock n roll forever with his signature heavy and distorted guitar tones, paving the way for punk and metal musicians to follow. Collected here is an example of Wray’s country and Americana roots from his self-titled 1971 album, a pioneering work of the home-recording movement that would carry into the 21st century. 

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Indigenous artists had a profound influence on popular American genres. Often forgotten in the shadow of his contemporaries like Eric Clapton and George Harrison, Jesse Ed Davis (Comanche, Seminole, Muskogee, and Kiowa) was a highly acclaimed guitar player. Born in Oklahoma, Davis played with hugely popular artists of his time, featuring alongside names like John Lennon, Taj Mahal, Jackson Browne, and Leonard Cohen. On the west coast, brothers Pat and Candido Vasquez-Vegas (Yaqui, Shoshone, and Mexican) formed the all Native American rock group Redbone. The brothers penned radio-rock staples for the 1970s with hits like “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” and the ever-lasting “Come and Get Your Love.” Across the nation at this time, acts were popping up on reservations and in indigenous communities, exemplified here by the band Sugluk with their song “Ajuinnarasuarsunga,” a fusion of rock n roll song structure and first nations language. 

Moving into the 1980s, singer-songwriter Archie James Cavanaugh (Tlingit) released his yacht rock classic “Black and White Raven.” Born in Alaska, Cavanaugh traveled the west coast assembling a band that included members of Redbone to release his often overlooked album, its fusion of disco and soft rock represented here on “Take it Easy.” In country music, First Nations culture is frequently referenced but seldom represented justly. This was not the case in the music of Buddy Red Bow (Lakota). Red Bow dedicated his career to singing of the plight of Indigenous peoples and the injustices wrought by white colonists. The music of Indigenous artists was also significant in rising genres of the decade like new age. Joanne Shenandoah (Oneida and Onondaga) would become an influential figure in this genre and would go on to set the record for Native American Music Awards won by a single artist. 

Moving into the 21st century to the present, Indigenous artists still hold an influential place in modern American genres, driving them forward with ingenuity and expert artistry. Artist Martha Redbone continues in the tradition of rhythm n blues and soul music, fusing these sounds with traditional indigenous music drawn from her heritage of Choctaw, Cherokee, and African American. Artist Samantha Crain melds folk rock, indie rock, and americana with indigenous influence reflective of her Choctaw heritage. Inuk artist Beatrice Deer makes indie rock that is consistently inventive and exciting, earning her the Best Inut/Cultural Album award for her 2005 effort “Just Bea.” In the vein of indie rock, Silver Jackson makes music in numerous groups, performing under this name as well as his Tlingit name.  Groups like Cemican and Nechochwen fuse First Nations history and political outcry over unjust treatment of Indigenous peoples with the harsh and aggressive sounds of metal, driving the genre forward still in the 21st century. Doom metal group Divide and Dissolve (Black, Tsalagi, Maori) fuse classical music with doom metal and lyrical outcry over injustices wrought against indigenous peoples to create uniquely political music for the 21st century. Artist Black Belt Eagle Scout furthers the mix of traditional indigenous influence with alternative rock, creating post rock informed by her Swinomish heritage. Artist Tanya Tagaq (Inuk) create music unlike anything heard before, fusing traditional throat singing with ambient soundscapes derived from noise and drone music. In hip hop, First Nations artists bring exciting changes and new voices to the cultural forefront, as is the case with Angel Haze (Cherokee), who raps of their experiences as an individual identifying as pansexual and agender in the hip hop world, as well as celebrating their mixed Indigenous heritage. Groups like A Tribe Called Red fuse electronic genres like dubstep and house with hip hop and traditional First Nations music to create a sound wholly their own in the massive EDM music market.


Recent Additions

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Community-Centered Journalism

Contemporary journalism faces a crisis of trust that threatens the institution and may imperil democracy itself. Critics and experts see a renewed commitment to local journalism as one solution. But a lasting restoration of public trust requires a different kind of local journalism than is often imagined, one that engages with and shares power among all sectors of a community.Andrea Wenzel models new practices of community-centered journalism that build trust across boundaries of politics, race, and class, and prioritize solutions while engaging the full range of local stakeholders. Informed by case studies from rural, suburban, and urban settings, Wenzel's blueprint reshapes journalism norms and creates vigorous storytelling networks between all parts of a community. Envisioning a portable, rather than scalable, process, Wenzel proposes a community-centered journalism that, once implemented, will strengthen lines of local communication, reinvigorate civic participation, and forge a trusting partnership between media and the people they cover.

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Communicating with the Public

This book offers a collection of conversation analytic investigations into how one US-based philanthropic organization communicates its mission of improving public health. In contrast to political speeches or news interviews with prominent figures, much communication with the public involves the routine work undertaken by institutional representatives as they interact with external audiences- this book considers precisely how this work is accomplished. Communicating with the Public broadens the scope of conversation analysis by unveiling the interactive, multi-party, and multi-modal nature of institutional messaging that might otherwise be construed as a scripted, monologic undertaking. To this end, it examines a diverse array of contemporary platforms, including webinars, podcasts, and television interviews, as well as face-to-face conversations following public talks and panel discussions. Chapters reveal how both foundation representatives and their interlocutors target messaging to specific audiences that may or may not be present, manage the logistics of delivering this messaging, and position themselves as credible experts or a unified institutional collective.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

All Media Studies Guides