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The Making of American Audiences

The Making of American Audiences
From Stage to Television, 1750–1990

Part of Cambridge Studies in the History of Mass Communication

  • Date Published: July 2000
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521664837


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About the Authors
  • In The Making of American Audiences, Richard Butsch provides a comprehensive survey of American entertainment audiences from the colonial period to the modern day. Providing coverage of theatre, opera, vaudeville, minstrelsy, movies, radio and television, he examines the evolution of audience practices as each genre supplanted another as the primary popular entertainment. Based on original historical research, this volume exposes how audiences made themselves through their practices - how they asserted control over their own entertainments and their own behaviour. Importantly, Butsch articulates two long-term processes: pacification and privatization. Whereas during the nineteenth century, overactive audiences represented a threat to civic order through their unruly behaviour, in the twentieth century, audiences have become more passive, dependent upon and controlled by media messages. This timely study serves as an important contribution to communication research, as well as American cultural history and cultural studies.

    • A first history of audiences
    • It provides deeper understanding of categories used to describe audiences
    • It provides thorough historical research to replace the mythic pasts typically invoked in debates about audiences
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… substantial and absorbing … it appealing style will draw a wide range of readers with an interest in the many facets of entertainment.' Library Journal

    'A masterly study that should become a standard text.' Sight and Sound

    'Butsch's thoroughly researched, critically informed and vividly written accounts of other 'popular' media and their audiences' socio-economic 'making' provide extremely useful comparative material for research into cinema audiences' constructions.' The English Association

    'This fascinating book is also an impressive piece of scholarship.' Ethics, Place and Environment

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2000
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521664837
    • length: 468 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 153 x 30 mm
    • weight: 0.688kg
    • contains: 18 b/w illus. 8 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: participative public, passive private?
    1. Colonial theater, privileged audiences
    2. Drama in early Republican audiences
    3. The B'hoys in Jacksonian theaters
    4. Knowledge and the decline of audience sovereignty
    5. Matinee ladies: re-gendering theater audiences
    6. Blackface, whiteface
    7. Variety, liquor and lust
    8. Vaudeville, incorporated
    9. 'Legitimate' and 'illegitimate' theater around the turn of the century
    10. The celluloid stage: Nickelodeon audiences
    11. Storefronts to theaters: seeking the middle class
    12. Voices from the ether: early radio listening
    13. Radio cabinets and network chains
    14. Rural radio: 'we are seldom lonely anymore'
    15. Fears and dreams: public discourses about radio
    16. The electronic cyclops: fifties television
    17. A TV in every home: television 'effects'
    18. Home video: viewer autonomy?
    19. Conclusion: from effects to resistance and beyond
    Appendix: availability, affordability, admission price
    Selected bibliography

  • Author

    Richard Butsch, Rider University, New Jersey

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