By Jonathan Gray

About Jonathan Gray

Jonathan Gray is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is the author of Television Entertainment, Television Studies (with Amanda D. Lotz), Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts, and Watching with The Simpsons: Television, Parody, and Intertextuality, and co-editor of numerous other collections.

About this Site

Keywords for Media Studies introduces and aims to advance the field of critical media studies by tracing, defining, and problematizing its established and emergent terminology.  The book historicizes thinking about media and society, whether that means noting a long history of “new media,” or tracing how understandings of media “power” vary across time periods and knowledge formations.

The print publication includes sixty-five essays from an impressive group of established scholars from television studies, film studies, sound studies, games studies, and more.  Each of the essays in the volume focuses on a critical concept, from “fan” to “industry,” and “celebrity” to “surveillance.”

 This site includes the volume’s Introduction,” 7 web essays from the volume, the list of works cited for all the essays, information about the contributors, a note on classroom use, and a blog. Any page in the …


Keywords for Media Studies introduces and advances the field of critical media studies by tracing, defining, and problematizing its established and emergent terminology. Like the authors of other books in the New York University Press Keywords series, we take our bearings from the Welsh scholar Raymond Williams. In Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (1976/1983), Williams presented a “shared body of words and meanings” for understanding “general discussions of .  .  . the practices and institutions which we group as culture and society” (15). Less a dictionary or an encyclopedia than a holistic conceptual map organized around words, his book charted the history and usage of “key” words as a means of “recording, investigating and presenting” problems of culture and society to which they were bound (15). Williams did not set out to define a definitive canon of important terms, or to fix their significance for all time. Rather, …


A text is a unit of meaning for interpretation and understanding. As such, most things are (or could be treated as) texts. Within media studies, a text could be a TV program, film, video game, website, book, song, podcast, newspaper article, tweet, or app. Texts matter because they are bearers of communication and movers of meaning. Texts can inspire and delight, or disgust and disappoint, but more importantly they intervene in the world and into culture, introducing new ideas, or variously attacking or reinforcing old ones. Textual analysis has long been a primary mode of “doing” media studies, as scholars seek to ascertain what a text means, how it means (what techniques are used to convey meaning), and what its themes, messages, and explicit and implicit assumptions aim to accomplish.

All of this is simple and reasonably unobjectionable. Where texts and textual analysis become tricky is in their connections to …

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