Television, History, and American Culture

Feminist Critical Essays

Television, History, and American Culture

Console-ing Passions: Television and Cultural Power

More about this series

Book Pages: 232 Illustrations: 25 b&w photographs Published: September 1999

Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Media Studies > TV

In less than a century, the flickering blue-gray light of the television screen has become a cultural icon. What do the images transmitted by that screen tell us about power, authority, gender stereotypes, and ideology in the United States? Television, History, and American Culture addresses this question by illuminating how television both reflects and influences American culture and identity.
The essays collected here focus on women in front of, behind, and on the TV screen, as producers, viewers, and characters. Using feminist and historical criticism, the contributors investigate how television has shaped our understanding of gender, power, race, ethnicity, and sexuality from the 1950s to the present. The topics range from the role that women broadcasters played in radio and early television to the attempts of Desilu Productions to present acceptable images of Hispanic identity, from the impact of TV talk shows on public discourse and the politics of offering viewers positive images of fat women to the negotiation of civil rights, feminism, and abortion rights on news programs and shows such as I Spy and Peyton Place.
Innovative and accessible, this book will appeal to those interested in women’s studies, American studies, and popular culture and the critical study of television.

Contributors. Julie D’Acci, Mary Desjardins, Jane Feuer, Mary Beth Haralovich, Michele Hilmes, Moya Luckett, Lauren Rabinovitz, Jane M. Shattuc, Mark Williams


“[T]he utility and readability of these essays, not to mention their intriguing readings of old television programmes, marks them as wonderful contributions to feminist media research for students and scholars alike.” — Mary Douglas Vavrus , Cultural Studies

“From woman- and character-centered textual interpretations, through discussions of the complexity of audience and spectatorship, to redefinition of the role of consumerism in television’s industrial practices, each essay contributes to the reader’s understanding of the role of television as an agent of cultural and social consciousness.” — J. D. Hamlet , Choice

“Reading this collection will be a tonic for anyone wearied by ongoing assaults on feminism and cultural studies as having passed their prime; these essays suggest a vital field of inquiry and a vibrant political spirit . . . The contributors list reads like a who’s who of American feminist television studies.” — Henry Jenkins, editor of Children’s Culture Reader


Availability: In stock
Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Mary Beth Haralovich is Associate Professor of Media Arts at the University of Arizona.

Lauren Rabinovitz is Professor of American Studies and Film Studies at the University of Iowa.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction / Mary Beth Haralovich and Lauren Rabinovitz 1

Desired and Feared: Women's Voices in Radio History / Michele Hilmes 17

Considering Monty Margetts's Cook's Corner: Oral History and Television History / Mark Williams 36

Lucy and Desi: Sexuality, Ethnicity, and TV's First Family / Mary Desjardins 56

A Moral Crisis in Prime Time: Peyton Place and the Rise of the Single Girl / Moya Luckett 75

I Spy's "Living Postcards": The Geo-Politics of Civil Rights / Mary Beth Haralovich 98

Leading Up to Roe v. Wade: Television Documentaries in the Abortion Debate / Julie D'Acci 120

Ms.-Representation: The Politics of Feminist Sitcoms / Lauren Rabinovitz 144

The Oprahfication of America: Talk Shows and the Public Sphere / Jane M. Shattuc 168

Averting the Male Gaze: Visual Pleasure and the Images of Fat Women / Jane Feuer 181

Selected Bibliography 201

Contributors 211

Index 213
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2394-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2361-7
Publicity material