Media Studies encompasses the academic investigation of the mass media from perspectives such as sociology, psychology, history, semiotics, and critical discourse analysis. Oxford Reference provides more than 7,300 concise definitions and in-depth, specialist encyclopedic entries on this expanding discipline.
Our coverage comprises authoritative, highly accessible information on the terminology, concepts, theories, techniques, people, and organizations relating to all aspects of media studies—from film, television, radio, and journalism to communication, advertising, digital culture, new media, and visual culture. Written by trusted experts for researchers at every level, entries are complemented by illustrative line drawings and charts wherever useful.
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A timeline of communication: from writing being developed as cuneiform script on clay tablets to Apple's iPhone going on sale and selling 270,000 in the first thirty hours
Quotations about journalism from Oxford Essential Quotations
‘Jakobson’s model’ and ‘persistence of vision’ defined in A Dictionary of Media and Communication
Definitions of ‘biopic’ and ‘mise-en-scene’ from A Dictionary of Film Studies
In your opinion, which is the most fascinating entry in your dictionary and why?
There are lots of contenders here, from the obscure (filmology) and forgotten (drive-in cinema) to the sublime (excess), and the ridiculous (surf film). But, for me, one of the real strengths of the dictionary is its mapping of a wide range of national cinemas. I still find it fascinating to start with a broad area such as film in Africa and then to chase this out to entries under that umbrella term: e.g. film in Morocco, Egypt, Libya, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and others. Knitting together these threads is illuminating and indicates the significant and lasting contribution of African nations to world cinema. And, of course, learning about the development of the cinema in these countries illustrates the close relationship between colonialism, decolonization and the cinema, something described in the postcolonialism entry. The way these entries eventually circle you back around to the film in France entry, which can then be re-read in light of the history of North African and West African colonialism, is very rewarding.
What would you say is the most unusual/obscure term in your subject area?
This is another difficult one! I have always been enthralled by Victorian toys that relied on optical illusion and an understanding of the persistence of vision. These include the Zoetrope, and its less well known cousins, the Praxinoscope, Phenakistiscope, and Thaumatrope. The dictionary also offers a snapshot of some little known film types, including: phantom rides, a cycle of early cinema films in which the camera was placed on a moving object of some kind, such as a train, car, or animal; latsploitation, a Latin American variant of the exploitation film; and machinima, a group of films made using the graphics engines used in first person shooter computer games. If I were forced to pick one I’d probably have to go for beats. This is a term used in the industry to describe… Well, my co-author and I are still not really sure we understand it or even if it really exists!
What is the one term or concept that everyone—from students to everyday web users—should be familiar with? Why?
The entry on authorship is a really great starting point for students and cinephiles alike. It is common for a film’s meaning to be attributed to its director and there has been much work in film studies that follows this approach. However, film constitutes a problem case for any straightforward attribution of meaning to one creative individual. Films are produced by a team of people involved in the realization of script, acting, cinematography, and editing. And this creative process takes place within the constraints of the film industry and under the steer of the producer who puts together ‘the deal’ that makes the film possible. Reading on from authorship to these film production–related entries fosters an understanding of the ways in which creativity meets the wider collaborative and commercial logic of the cinema.
Wine and social media
Elaine Chukan Brown looks at how social media has changed the wine industry
Yorkshire: the birthplace of film?
Annette Kuhn and Guy Westwell explore Yorkshire’s contribution to cinema and the groundbreaking contributions of the moving-image inventors working in the county’s cities around the turn of the twentieth century.
For more media blog posts delve in to the OUPblog archives >
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