History of Media Studies

This working group will cultivate a community around a growing (and notably interdisciplinary) field of research. While a large literature of published work on the history of the cognate areas of film, media, and communication has accumulated over the last 40 years or so, there is nothing like a community or subfield in the manner of the history of psychology, economics, or sociology. Indeed, historical work on the media fields is notably cut off from better established fields in the history of social science, with which it often intersects. Connections with the far less developed history of the humanities are also awaiting development, since major strands of media, communication, and especially film studies have their origins in, and are oriented toward, the humanities.
Meetings are usually held on third Thursdays.

Upcoming Meetings

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  • Thursday, November 19, 2020 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm EST

    In this session, we will read Jamie Cohen-Cole's “Instituting the science of mind: intellectual economies and disciplinary exchange at Harvard’s Center for Cognitive Studies” (2007) and a working paper authored by one of our members, Katya Babintseva, “From Control to Freedom and Back Again: the PLATO Computer and Cognitive Psychology in the 1960s-1970s.”

  • Thursday, December 17, 2020 9:00 am to 10:30 am EST


  • Thursday, January 21, 2021 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm EST


  • Thursday, February 18, 2021 9:00 am to 10:30 am EST


  • Thursday, March 18, 2021 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm EDT


  • Thursday, April 15, 2021 9:00 am to 10:30 am EDT


  • Thursday, May 20, 2021 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm EDT


Past Meetings

  • October 15, 2020

    In this session, we will read Perrin Selcer, “The View From Everywhere: Disciplining Diversity in Post–World War II International Social Science” (2009) and a draft paper authored by one of our members, Sarah Nelson, “A Dream Deferred: Unesco, American Expertise, and the Eclipse of Radical News Development in the Early Satellite Age.”
    Note: Download the two readings as a single zip file in the “Readings” tab in the upper right.

  • September 17, 2020

    In this third session, we will read Gustavo Sorá and Alejandro Blanco, “Unity and Fragmentation in the Social Sciences in Latin America” (2018) and a draft paper authored by one of our members, Raúl Fuentes-Navarro, “Latin American interventions to the practice and theory of communication and social development: on the legacy of Juan Díaz-Bordenave.”
    Note: Download the two readings as a single zip file in the "Readings" tab in the upper right.

  • August 20, 2020

    In this second session, we will read Johan Heilbron, Nicolas Guilhot, and Laurent Jeanpierre, "Toward a Transnational History of the Social Sciences" (2008) and a draft paper co-authored by one of our members, Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz (and Adam Kendon), "The Natural History of an Interview and the Microanalysis of Behavior in Social Interaction: A Critical Moment in Research Practice".
    Note: Download the two readings as a single zip file in the "Readings" tab in the upper right.

  • July 16, 2020

    In this initial session, we will read the introduction to Roger Backhouse and Philippe Fontaine, eds., A Historiography of the Modern Social Sciences (2014) and a draft paper from one of our co-conveners, Dave Park, "The Pre-History of ICA: NSSC, the Communication Course, and the Field of Communication in the Mid-20th Century."
    Note: Download the two readings as a single zip file in the "Readings" tab in the upper right.

Group Conveners

  • dpark's picture

    Dave Park

    David Park (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) is professor of communication at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, IL. His scholarship addresses historical topics in communication and media studies, with an emphasis on the history of communication associations, media history, and scholarly communication. He is the reviews editor for New Media & Society, the founder of the Communication History Division of the International Communication Association, and the series editor for the Critical Introduction to Media and Communication Theory series at Peter Lang publishers. He is the author of Pierre Bourdieu: A Critical Introduction to Media and Communication Theory (Peter Lang, 2014). He has also co-edited The History of Media and Communication Research (Peter Lang, 2008), The Long History of New Media (Peter Lang, 2011), The International History of Communication Study (Routledge, 2015), Communicating Memory and History (Peter Lang, 2018), and The Inclusive Vision: Essays in Honor of Larry Gross (Peter Lang, 2018).


  • jpooley's picture

    Jeff Pooley

    Jeff Pooley (PhD, Columbia University) is professor of media & communication at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. His research interests center on the history of media research within the context of the social sciences, with special focus on the early Cold War behavioral sciences. He is author of James W. Carey and Communication Research: Reputation at the University’s Margins (Peter Lang, 2016), and co-editor of The History of Media and Communication Research (Peter Lang, 2008), Media and Social Justice (Palgrave, 2011), and Redrawing the Boundaries of the Social Sciences: How Social Problems Become Economic Problems in the Postwar U.S. (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). He is co-founder of the Society for the History of Recent Social Science, and has published articles and book chapters on a range of related topics.


  • PeteSimonson's picture

    Pete Simonson

    Pete Simonson (PhD, University of Iowa) is professor of communication and, by courtesy, media studies in the College of Media, Communication and Information at the University of Colorado Boulder. His research centers on the international history of communication and media studies, intellectual history, feminist historiography, and the interdisciplinary connections of rhetoric with philosophy, political theory, sociology, and anthropology. He is the author of Refiguring Mass Communication: A History, and editor or co-editor of The International History of Communication Study, The Handbook of Communication History, and Politics, Social Networks, and the History of Mass Communications Research: Re-Reading Personal Influence.


67 Members