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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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5

Approaches to Gender and Sexuality in Media History

Gretchen Soderlund

ABSTRACT

This chapter surveys scholarship that lies at the intersection of media history, gender history, and the history of sexuality. Work that cuts across these three areas serves as a necessary corrective to the masculine bias found within conventional media histories. However, much of the scholarship surveyed focuses narrowly on “women” as a biological category, ignoring the critical role commercial and social-movement media have played in producing, reinforcing, and challenging historical understandings of gender and sexuality. Much work remains to be done in this important field. In particular, there is a paucity of works within media history that consider the cultural production of gender, race, and sexuality in relation to one another and within fields of power.

Like historical scholarship more broadly, the overwhelming majority of studies tracing the history of media are written with a decidedly male bias: the considerable involvement of women in all facets of media production is often downplayed, diminished, or outright ignored. Take, for instance, two lengthy histories of media since 1600, The Press and America: An Interpretive History of the Mass Media by Michael Emery, Edwin Emery, and Nancy Roberts (2000) and The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communication by Paul Starr (2004). Their very titles portend to offer a comprehensive history of the social actors and debates ...

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