Media History
Media History
Episode 4
Featuring Gary Edgerton
Demetri Kofinas speaks with media historian Gary Edgerton, about the ways in which television transformed American society and culture from the end of World War II, until the very early part of the 21st century. They examine the unique properties (business, technology, & narrative) that made television such a powerful medium.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with famed historian of television culture, Gary Edgerton, who is Professor of Creative Media and Entertainment at Butler University. He has published eleven books and more than eighty-five book chapters, journal articles, and encyclopedia entries on a wide assortment of media and television culture topics. He is also co-editor of the Journal of Popular Film and Television.  His award-winning book, The Columbia History of American Television, was named the 2008 John G. Cawelti Award winner for Outstanding Scholarly Inquiry into American Cultural Studies by the American Culture Association.

In their conversation, Demetri and Gary discuss the history of television as a technology and storytelling medium that fundamentally transformed American society and culture from the end of World War II until the present day. They explore the ways in which the growing aspirations of Americans – their changing norms, their victories, as well as their tragedies – played themselves out on their flickering, analogue screens. They consider the various ways in which American society dealt with the tragedy of Vietnam through shows like MASH and the A-Team. They explore the coming of age story through shows like MacGyver, Nightrider, and The Wonder Years. Gary comments on the significance of protofeminist programs like I Love Lucy and later, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The two discuss Baywatch and The Cosby Show, as examples of the power of international syndication. The subject of racism in America is also discussed through the example of shows like Amos ‘n’ Andy, as well as All in the Family. Demetri and Gary also discuss some of the more technical innovations of television, including the origin of the “close-up” as a tool for aiding character development and its successful implementation in the popular soap operas of the day. Finally, Gary Edgerton provides his thoughts about how television has (and will continue) to transform itself in the digital age of the 21st century.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor: Connor Lynch

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

Gary Edgerton is professor of Creative Media and Entertainment in the College of Communication at Butler University where he served as dean for five years. He was previously eminent scholar, professor, and chair of the Communication and Theatre Arts Department at Old Dominion University. He has published eleven books and more than eighty-five essays on a wide assortment of media and culture topics in a variety of books, scholarly journals, and encyclopedias.



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