Tools, Apps & Texts

Reading List (2006)


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20 Important Reasons to Study the Media
Chris Worsnop (1999)
A rationale for media literacy, tying study of the media to 20 other subjects of study.

Amusing Ourselves To Death
Neil Postman, (1989)
The book that helped form TMS! Neil Postman wrote about communication and technology for several decades. This book is vintage Postman: a simple and engaging look at how much of our culture is funneled through television, and some of the consequences.

Brave New World
Aldous Huxley, (1932)
In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman wrote:
“[In Brave New World] no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As [Huxley] saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.”
Huxley’s vision of a mass-produced, opiated culture rings more true today than ever before.

Cultural Studies, Multiculturalism, And Media Culture (pdf link)
Douglas Kellner, (1994)
A clear description of how the cultural studies approach can be applied to media studies–Kellner touches on issues of empowerment, representation, and media immersion. This and other essays from the cultural studies perspective are also available on Kellner’s UCLA web site.

Democracy and Education
John Dewey, (1916)
A classic in pedagogical theory outlining Dewey’s ideas of pragmatism and ‘learning by doing’.

Disappearance of Childhood, The
Neil Postman, (1982)
Postman theorizes that the distinction between adults and children in our society is diminishing due to the shift from print to television as the primary medium of socialization. He explains his theory by breaking down what it takes to interpret and understand television’s messages–how relaying visual and auditory messages along with its text, television can reach adults and children simultaneously.

Encoding and Decoding In Television Discourse
Stuart Hall, (1973)
Pioneer of British cultural studies, Hall describes his theory on how people make sense of media messages, claiming that the intended message of media producers can be interpreted in different ways by audiences which has various effects on society.

Five Key Questions That Can Change the World
The Center for Media Literacy publishes a free downloadable classroom activity guide with 25 core lesson plans for K-12 media literacy. We agree with their approach of building the key concepts of critical media analysis across traditional curricula as an approach to integrating media education in the U.S. school system.

Future of Ideas, The
Lawrence Lessig, (2001)
From the Stanford Law web site:
“In The Future of Ideas, Lawrence Lessig explains how the Internet revolution has produced a counterrevolution of devastating power and effect. The explosion of innovation we have seen in the environment of the Internet was not conjured from some new, previously unimagined technological magic; instead, it came from an ideal as old as the nation. Creativity flourished there because the Internet protected an innovation commons. The Internet’s very design built a neutral platform upon which the widest range of creators could experiment. The legal architecture surrounding it protected this free space so that culture and information–the ideas of our era–could flow freely and inspire an unprecedented breadth of expression. But this structural design is changing–both legally and technically.”

Instructional Practices In Media Literacy Education And Their Impact On Students’ Learning
Renee Hobbs, (1999)
From reneehobbs.org: “This study reports the findings of qualitative and quantitative research designed to assess the impact of different types of instructional practices involving media literacy education across the curriculum. Teachers in a small school district participated in a staff development program in media literacy and developed unique approaches for integrating media literacy concepts into language arts, history, math and science at the ninth grade level. The work of four different teams of ninth grade teachers is described by examining the instructional practices, motivations and philosophy behind teachers’ application of media literacy concepts into the curriculum.”

Literacy in a Digital World
Kathleen Tyner, (1998)
A thorough look at the history of literacy in the U.S.; comparisons of literacy, communication and educational theory; makes the case for the expansion of literacy to include “multiliteracies”; examines the relationship between access to educational technology and media education.

Media Literacy: Education for a Technological Age
Center for Media Literacy, (2002)
An excellent introduction to some of the theory behind media literacy: well-written, simple, and concise.

Necessary Illusions; Thought Control in Democratic Societies
Noam Chomsky, (1989)
from ZNet:
“This book applies the propaganda model Chomsky has developed with Edward Herman to media coverage of the diplomatic process in Central America and the Middle East, human rights issues, terrorism, and other topics, revealing the crucial function of the media and educated elites in limiting democracy in the United States.
Rigorously documented, Necessary Illusions is an invaluable tool for understanding how democracy functions in the United States.”

Plug-in Drug, The
Marie Winn, (2002)
Classic study of the impact of TV on youth development and family life. Highly debateable theories, but ideas all parents and teachers should consider. Good source of statistics on children’s media consumption.

Seven Great Debates in Media Literacy Education, The
Renee Hobbs, (1998)
Another bedrock TMS resource, Renee’s comprehensive account of the prevailing debates that exist in the development of a standardized U.S. media literacy curriculum is great place to start framing your own approach to media education.

Teaching Youth Media
Steven Goodman, (2003)
Founder of the Educational Video Center‘s social constructivist guide to supporting literacy through documentary video production.

Technics and Civilization
Lewis Mumford, (1934)
An account of how the incorporation of new technologies has effected society in the past, and what factors we should heed as new technologies arise that will affect our future.

Understanding Media
Marshall McLuhan, (1964)
A classic — many would say progenitor — of the media literacy movement. Though not a scholarly work, McLuhan makes compelling arguments for more analysis of the role of technology in culture by cobbling together changes influenced by technology in human history with tremendous foresight into the effects of modern technology including the prediciton of a “global village” connected through new media.

What Media Literacy is NOT
Center for Media Literacy, (2002)
A short list of some misconceptions about “media literacy” that can help students and educators understand what the term really means.