2021 Outstanding Academic Titles: Media & Communication

Five selections from the Choice Reviews 2021 Outstanding Academic Titles list. This week we share media and communication 2021 Outstanding Academic Titles

Five selections from the Choice Reviews 2021 Outstanding Academic Titles list. This week select media and communication 2021 Outstanding Academic Titles from Choice Reviews.

1. Covering the border war: how the news media creates crime, race, nation, and the USA-Mexico divide
Kil, Sang Hea. Lexington Books, 2020
Covering the Border War 2021 Outstanding Academic Title about media & communications

Kil (San Jose State Univ.) provides a rigorous analysis of news discourse focusing on how the nation and aspiring immigrants are depicted based on articles published in the Los Angeles Times, Arizona Republic, Albuquerque Journal, and Houston Chronicle from 1993 to 2006. The analysis demonstrates how immigrants have been “racially imagined” as thieves and rapists who drain social services resources and create injury to the suffering (and white) taxpayer. Theoretically rich and methodologically rigorous, this seven-chapter book examines the most recent “nativist wave,” which has focused attention on immigrants and the US/Mexico border region. Chapter 1, “Dirt, Scales, and the White Body Politic,” illustrates how racist conceptualizations can be communicated without using overtly racist rhetoric; presents a framework of “racist dirt fixations” nested within different scales (body, house, region, nation); and sheds light on the metaphoric and geographic dimension of race and how in a veiled way the discourse of border news imposes “whiteness” on the nation. Chapter 2 highlights the militarization of the US/Mexico border, describing this region as a “necropolitical deathscape.” Brutalization theory helps Kil explain, throughout, why both the news-reading public and US policy makers might seek to further militarize the border despite the deadly costs of doing so. View on Amazon

2. Culturally speaking: the rhetoric of voice and identity in a mediated culture
Edgar, Amanda Nell. Ohio State, 2019
Culturally Speaking 2021 Outstanding Academic Title about media & communications

If ever there was a time to investigate the negative impact of the media’s treatment of the spoken voice, that time is now. Edgar (Univ. of Memphis) exposes the pervasive discrimination in the mediated messages of underrepresented populations. Taking as her starting point voice as central to cultural rhetoric, Edgar demonstrates how sounds are filtered in ways that impact understanding of racial and gendered voices. In page after page, she reveals the weight of media bias—the call to action is undeniable. She also introduces a new theory and methodology to the field of mediated communication, a theory she calls critical cultural vocalities. In essence, this theory challenges the traditional notion of a voice that is “natural” and makes an argument for the “socially shaped” voice. Edgar provides many timely and useful applications of her theory, including “whitevoice,” to which she devotes a chapter. The conclusion summons the reader to listen differently and consider why some mediated representations of cries for justice are heard and others are ignored. This book is exceptionally well researched and academically rigorous, yet accessible for most readers.  View on Amazon

3.Ethics in the digital domain
Fortner, Robert S. Rowman & Littlefield, 2021
Ethics in the Digital Domain 2021 Outstanding Academic Title about media & communications

Fortner (Univ. of Illinois) provides an engaging survey of applied ethics, presenting 16 case studies for classroom discussion that explore individual culpability for the consequences of “mindless” use of digital technology. Novel situations raised by accelerated workplace automation, harm caused by the digital spread of disinformation, and weakened trust in regulating big tech illustrate the need to distill several ethical systems into a workable foundation for logical decision-making. Against this challenge, Fortner offers six diagnostic questions: Does the difference between right and wrong matter in this case? Are people being treated as agents in their own right? Do those who are worst off gain anything from the decision? Are people taking responsibility for each other’s welfare? Do those benefiting in number and degree outweigh those who aren’t? Is the decision made likely to lead to human flourishing? As Fortner argues, centralized media hegemony, maintained in prior eras by unknown gatekeepers and officials, has atomized; more authority today rests with listeners, viewers and users, each bearing ethical responsibility for maintaining a humane society by “policing” their own and others’ digital behavior. View on Amazon

4. Front pages, front lines: media and the fight for women’s suffrage
ed. by Linda Steiner, Carolyn Kitch, and Brooke Kroeger Illinois, 2020
Front Pages, Front Lines 2021 Outstanding Academic Title about media & communications

Steiner (Univ. of Maryland, College Park), Kitch (Temple Univ.), and Kroeger (New York Univ.) have put together an important and fascinating anthology, the first book to explore, in depth, the complex relationship between the US women’s suffrage movement and the media that both supported and resisted it. Thoughtfully chosen essays bring varying perspectives into conversation with each other, from historiography, to investigations of specific journals and their audiences, to local and national media coverage, to portraits of journalists and activists who deserve to be better known. A multidisciplinary approach is evident, particularly in the essays by Jane Rhodes, Linda Grasso, and by coauthors Robin Sundaramoorthy and Jinx Broussard. The latter study investigates the differences in support for suffrage as shown by publications geared toward white versus Black audiences, scrutinizing socialist and communist ideas in Black periodicals, and shining needed light on the roles of Black journalists and publications. Throughout this volume, the importance of media to the suffrage movement, and indeed to American history, is compellingly illustrated. View on Amazon.

5. How words make things happen
Craig, Brian. Bromwich, David. Oxford, 2019
How Words Make Things Happen 2021 Outstanding Academic Title about media & communications

This intriguing volume (a version of Bromwich’s 2013 Clarendon Lectures at Oxford University) argues, as Bromwich writes in the preface, that “no conceptual category … can seal off language from its effects” and that authors have no control over what happens as a consequence of their language. What is called a thing matters “as a motive to action,” e.g., Lincoln’s calling slavery “wrong” with “intense emotion” goes “beyond words”; his words, in fact, were “intended as actions.” In the book’s five chapters, Bromwich considers whether persuasion occurs, persuasion and responsibility, emotion and conviction, speakers who convince themselves, and censorship. Authors examined are mainly philosophers, politicians, and poets: Aristotle, Cicero, Shakespeare, Milton, Burke, Lincoln, Mill, James, Bagehot, Yeats, Auden, Orwell, Austin, Rushdie, and Savio. The questions asked and the distinctions made in this concise book demand wide reading and reflection on what words carry. Likely to promote lively debate, this volume is especially timely in view of the current crises with words and their fallout actions, political words, media words, truth and lies, and facts and fantasies. View on Amazon.

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