My current research focuses on the relationship between media activism, broadcasting policy, and American social movements. Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, struggles over broadcasting policy have been critical parts of campaigns for social justice and political reform. As American social movements responded to an increasingly mass-mediated culture, they have tried to mold television to reflect their moral and political beliefs; activist communities have understood that their successes or failures would be tied to the narratives presented in, faces and voices appearing on, and values and perspectives circulating within the televisual public sphere. Of the many strategies deployed to effect change, which have included boycotting offending sponsors and negotiating directly with network executives, has been fights to alter broadcasting policy and law to assure that television could be a partner in the hoped for better future imagined by activist communities.
This project thus offers alternate lens on television and American social movements by focusing not on representations and reportage, but on battles over media policy. In addition, I argue that television reform battles are always about more than just television itself. They have been struggles over the meanings of citizenship in an age of mass media and over the parameters of public culture in a multi-cultural and multi-racial society.
In addition to this project, I increasingly have become interested in the way that television operates as a portal of popular history and collective memory. In recent articles on Deadwood and Mad Men, I have explored how television’s role as popular historian has shifted in the digital age, and the degree to which changes in media production and consumption, branding strategies, and distribution platforms affect the presentation of the past on the small screen.
Flow TV: Television in the Age of Convergent Media, co-editor. New York: Routledge, 2010.
“Whitewashing Diversity: Conservatives and the ‘Stealth Fairness Doctrine,’” Television and New Media (forthcoming).
“Rush Limbaugh and the Problem of the Color Line,” Cinema Journal (forthcoming).
“Deadwood, Generic Transformation and Televisual History,” Journal of Popular Film and Television 39.2 (2011), 102-112.
“The Strange Career of Mad Men: Race, Paratexts, and Civil Rights Memory,” in Mad Men: Dreams Come True TV, ed. Gary Edgerton. London: I.B. Tauris, 2011, 209-225.
“Television Up in the Air: The Midwest Program on Airborne Television Instruction, 1959-1971,” Critical Studies in Media Communication 27.5 (2010), 477-497.
“Regulating the Airwaves: A ‘Toaster with Pictures’ or a ‘Public Service.’” in Battleground: The Media, eds. Robin Andersen and Jonathan Gray. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008, 433-441.
“Feminists in the Wasteland: The National Organization for Women and Television Reform,” Feminist Media Studies 7.4 (2007), 413-431.
“The Brief Ride of the Biker Movie,” International Journal of Motorcycle Studies 3 (2007).