ERIC Number: ED350563
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Aug
Reference Count: N/A
Historical Work in Mass Communication Studies: Literacy, Libraries, and Popular Reading.
Recent work in both the history of education and the influence of popular culture suggests that libraries can be studied as sites where the public is taught--through a variety of mechanisms--important lessons about communication, knowledge and society. Researchers have addressed the interpretive question of whether literacy is tied to progress and the question of whether literacy is always expanding. The nineteenth century was a watershed period as elites began to encourage mass literacy in western Europe and the United States through the support of common schools. There is still a great deal of research to be done on the history of reading since the technological, publishing, and marketing revolutions of the nineteenth century. Public library history has followed two primary intellectual currents. Mainstream public library history, like essentialist media theory, sees the large urban public library as the ideal institution. "Revisionist" library history is more concerned with how social elites have attempted to use public libraries to control other social groups. An ongoing research project is examining the formation and early growth of the Free Library of Philadelphia, which occurred primarily during the Progressive Era. The research is guided by the assumption that mass communication (as an important component of culture) often serves as an arena for social conflict. The research involves the description and analysis of the social and physical environment of a particular historically situated institution of mass communication reception in the hope this will cast light on the complex network of relationships that can exist between society, mass communication, and meaning. (Twenty-three references are attached.) (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Free Library of Philadelphia PA; Historical Background; Literacy as a Social Process
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (75th, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, August 5-8, 1992).