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Network Nations: A Transnational History of British and American Broadcasting [Paperback]

Michele Hilmes

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Book Description

August 11, 2011 0415883857 978-0415883856 0

In Network Nations, Michele Hilmes reveals and re-conceptualizes the roots of media globalization through a historical look at the productive transnational cultural relationship between British and American broadcasting. Though frequently painted as opposites--the British public service tradition contrasting with the American commercial system--in fact they represent two sides of the same coin. Neither could have developed without the constant presence of the other, in terms not only of industry and policy but of aesthetics, culture, and creativity, despite a long history of oppositional rhetoric.

Based on primary research in British and American archives, Network Nations argues for a new transnational approach to media history, looking across the traditional national boundaries within which media is studied to encourage an awareness that media globalization has a long and fruitful history. Placing media history in the framework of theories of nationalism and national identity, Hilmes examines critical episodes of transnational interaction between the US and Britain, from radio’s amateurs to the relationship between early network heads; from the development of radio features and drama to television spy shows and miniseries; as each other’s largest suppliers of programming and as competitors on the world stage; and as a network of creative, business, and personal relationships that has rarely been examined, but that shapes television around the world. As the global circuits of television grow and as global regions, particularly Europe, attempt to define a common culture, the historical role played by the British/US media dialogue takes on new significance.


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Michele Hilmes, a leading media historian in the USA, has made an important contribution to the comparative study of the development of radio and television in America and Britain. The British public service tradition and the American commercial model have had more in common than is generally supposed, as Hilmes demonstrates in her clear and readable account of their intertwined histories." --Professor Paddy Scannell, Department of Communication Studies, University of Michigan

About the Author

Michele Hilmes is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the author or editor of several books on media history, including Hollywood and Broadcasting: From Radio to Cable (1990), Radio Voices: American Broadcasting 1922-1952 (1997); Only Connect: A Cultural History of Broadcasting in the United States (3rd ed. 2010); The Radio Reader: Essays in the Cultural History of Radio (2001), The Television History Book (2003), and NBC: America’s Network (2007).


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More About the Author

The cultural history of broadcasting, from its very beginnings to the present day, is the subject that has captivated my attention for more than 30 years. Though I teach and write about television and new media, my real love is radio, particularly radio's "golden age," the period before television. We're now in a new golden age of radio, inspired by the advent of digital media, where old radio and new radio are coming together in new forms of what I call "soundwork."

My most recent work is a volume on this topic, co-edited with Jason Loviglio, called Radio's New Wave: Global Sound in the Digital Era (Routledge 2013). It has a collection of wonderful essays by new and established scholars, exploring radio's past, present, and digitally-enabled future. I also recently completed a revision of my textbook, Only Connect: A Cultural History of Broadcasting in the United States (Cengage 2013), expanded and updated for this fourth edition.

The transnational flow of media, and its role in national cultures, has always been one of its most significant and controversial qualities. This is true both of radio and of television. In 2013-14 I will be spending the year in the UK, at the University of Nottingham on a Fulbright Fellowship, to explore the area of US/UK television co-production. Productions like the recent worldwide hit Downton Abbey, often seen in the US on PBS's Masterpiece series, are just the tip of this iceberg -- resulting in programs that circulate around the world. The pre-history of this phenomenon is the subject of another recent book, Network Nations: A Transnational History of British and American Broadcasting (Routledge 2011).

The great thing about being a media scholar is that you can entertain yourself with your research interests. I'm a big fan of complex dramatic serials like Downton Abbey, Breaking Bad, The Killing, and Mad Men, and without podcasts of radio shows like This American Life, Radiolab, On the Media, NPR's news programs, and the BBC's excellent In Our Times, life would be dull indeed.

Other publications include NBC: America's Network, a collection of original articles by leading scholars on the history of the NBC network; Hollywood and Broadcasting: From Radio to Cable, an early work that looked at the economic and textual intersections between the film and broadcasting industries from the 1920s to the 1980s; Radio Voices: American Broadcasting 1922 to 1952, which went back to the period of network radio to show how its structures and program forms evolved in the context of national identity and its negotiations of gender, race and ethnicity; and the Television History Book (with Jason Jacobs).

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