Refiguring Mass Communication: A History. Peter Simonson. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press “History of Communications” series, 2010. 261 pp.
This is a rhetorical and historical study into what the term “mass communication” has meant since (and even well before) the term first appeared nearly a century ago.
A member of the University of Colorado communication faculty who began his academic work in religious studies and then turned to intellectual history, Peter Simonson organizes his argument around narrative accounts of five key figures and their own communicative worlds—three of them predating the modern conceptions of mass communication. Indeed, he redefines the very concept by using these significant but overlooked rhetorical episodes in its history. As he puts it in the introduction, his is a study of changes in “mass communication as a social concept, a rhetorical utterance, and a heterogeneous family of social forms.” [Read more...]