History of Communication Technologies -- FINAL

Final writeup and titles for one of four reading lists for my qualifying exams. I've left most changes visible to show the rocess we went through to get here...

This list aims to build an overview of communicative technologies employed in western cultures, with a focus on electronic communications technologies in the United States. Technologies will be conceptualized as culturally-embedded intersections of institutional structures, discourses of knowledge, and everyday practices, in addition to machines, their developers and critics. The end result will be an articulation of not only the machines and networks typically associated with “technology,” but also the material and social relations within which these devices are understood, constituted, and challenged. Within and through this a genealogy of the idea(s) of technology is arrived at as well.

1. Innis, H. A. 1951. The bias of communication. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
2. Carey, J. W. 1989. Communication as culture: Essays on media and society. Boston: Unwin Hyman.
3. Sturken, M., Thomas, D. and Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (Eds.). 2004. Technological visions: the hopes and fears that shape new technologies. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
4. Mattelart, A. 1996. The invention of communication. Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press.
5. Slack, J. D. and Wise, J. M. 2005. Culture and technology: A Primer. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.
6. Braman, S. (Ed.). 2004. Biotechnology and communication. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

7. Hartman, H.I., Kraut, R.E. and Tilly, L.A. 1986. “Historical Patterns of Technological Change” in Computer Chips and Paper Clips: Technology and Women's Employment, Volume I. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
8. Simon, L. 2004. Dark light: electricity and anxiety from the telegraph to the X-ray. Orlando: Harcourt.
9. Headrick, D. R. 1988. The tentacles of progress: technology transfer in the age of imperialism, 1850-1940. New York: Oxford University Press.
10. Czitrom, D. J. 1982. Media and the American mind: from Morse to McLuhan. Chapel Hill, NJ: University of North Carolina Press.
11. Winner, L. 1986. The whale and the reactor: A search for limits in an age of high technology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
12. Lowe, D. M. 1982. History of bourgeois perception. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
13. Acland, C. R. (Ed.). 2007. Residual media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

14. Ong, W. J. 1991. Orality and literacy: the technologizing of the word. New York: Routledge.
15. Schmandt-Besserat, D. 1996. How Writing Came About. Austin: University of Texas press.
16. Eisenstein, E. L. 1979. The printing press as an agent of change: communications and cultural transformations in early modern Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press.
17. Davidson, C. N. 2004. Revolution and the word: The rise of the novel in America. (expanded edition). New York: Oxford University Press.
18. Schudson, M. 1980. Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers. New York: Basic Books.
McChesney, R.W. and Scott, B. 2004. Our unfree press: 100 years of media criticism. New York: New Press.

Audio / Telephony
19. Adorno, T. W. 2002. Essays on music; selected, with introduction, commentary, and notes by Richard Leppert; new translations by Susan H. Gillespie. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
20. Wurtzler, S. J. 2007. Electric sounds: technological change and the rise of corporate mass media. New York: Columbia University Press.
21. Castells, M., Fernandez-Ardevol, M., LinchuanQiu, J., and Sey, A. (Eds.) 2007. Mobile communication and society: A global perspective. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
22. Anderson, T. J. 2006. Making easy listening: material culture and postwar American recording. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
23. Lanza, J. 2004. Elevator music: a surreal history of Muzak, easy-listening, and other moodsong. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
24. Burgess, A. 2004. Cellular phones, public fears, and a culture of precaution. New York: Cambridge University Press.
ADDED: 25. Bull, M. and Back, L. (Eds.) 2003. The Auditory Culture Reader. New York: Berg.

26. Douglas, S.J. 2004. Listening in: radio and the American imagination, from Amos 'n' Andy and Edward R. Murrow to Wolfman Jack and Howard Stern. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. CHANGE BOOK: 1989. Inventing American Broadcasting, 1899-1922. Johns Hopkins.
27. Hilmes, M. 1997. Radio voices: American broadcasting, 1922-1952. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
28. Spigel, L. 1992. Make room for TV: television and the family ideal in postwar America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.
29. Banet-Weiser, S., Chris, C., and Freitas, A. 2007. Cable Visions: Television Beyond Broadcasting. New York: New York University Press.
ADDED: 30. Everett, A. 2001. Returning the Gaze: A Genealogy of Black Film Criticism, 1909-1949. Duke University Press.
QUESTIONS:More on film? (No, leaving out film and photography as more art/entertainment than communicaiton oriented.) What about basic technologies of visual perception, books like Jonathan Crary? (Put Crary in Historiography section of Qualitative Methods list.)

“New” / Networked Media
31. Gitelman, L. 2006. Always already new: media, history and the data of culture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
32. Robins, K. and Webster, F. 1999. Times of the technoculture: from the information society to the virtual life. New York: Routledge.
33. Dean, J. 2002. Publicity's secret: How technoculture capitalizes on democracy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
34. Williams, R. 2002. Retooling: a historian confronts technological change. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
35. Standage, T. 1999. The Victorian Internet: The remarkable story of the telegraph and the nineteenth century's on-line pioneers. Berkeley: University of California Press.
ADDED: 36. Everett, A. “The Revolution Will Be Digitized: Afrocentricity and the Digital Public Sphere” Social Text, Summer 2002.
ADDED: 27b. Nelson, A. (Ed.) Technicolor: Race, technology, and everyday life. New York: NYU Press.
37. Chun, W. 2006. Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

38. Kittler, F. A. 1999. Gramophone, film, typewriter. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
39. Huurdeman, A. A. 2003. The worldwide history of telecommunications. New York: J. Wiley.
40. Gray, H. 2005. Cultural Moves: African-Americans and the Politics of Representation. Berkeley: University of California Press.


  1. great list! many of these books are on my maybe-someday list.

    under audio/telephony (or maybe historiagraphy?), i'd add: jonathan sterne's The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction.

    great to see the czitrom book on your list.

    what about susan douglas's other book? it always seemed to me that within communication circles, her early radio history book is key.

    what about haraway? maybe add cyborg manifesto?

    what about race? there's gotta be a book that combines communication history + cultural studies + cultural difference.

    great list trav.

  2. Hey David! Thanks for the great suggestions. ... I LOVE that Sterne book, it's only excluded to make room for sound-tech books I haven't read yet. (Still torn between listing what I have v. haven't read.) ... Good point on the Douglas. The new book had some more recent/cultural stuff I was interested in, but the other book is kind of essential in the field ... Haraway was in one of these lists at one point, maybe science studies or gender, but got axed. Can't remember why, hmmm ... There's some race stuff on my science studies list but didn't find much in com tech history, although I agree something should be out there, esp. when there's so much feminist work on the subject. I'll bear it in mind and see what my advisors think... Thanks again!

  3. Hi from NZ, am also blogging my way to a PhD. I am studying uses of computer and communication technologies reshaping counselling. Great reading list! wish i had a lifetime to do it all! In case you appreciate some lighter reading, here's a link to cell phone use in an actor network analysis

  4. http://www.informaworld.com/

    If the link doesnt work, search for Chesher + the milky way

  5. Anonymous1:08 PM

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  6. Thanks for article, alisa - pretty cool. Good luck on your diss! ;)