twitter books of the month
Search our site
Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner Read the opening extract of the brand new Susie Steiner book before its publication on 05/04/2018

Television at the Movies Cinematic and Critical Responses to American Broadcasting by Jon Nelson Wagner, Tracy Biga MacLean

Television at the Movies Cinematic and Critical Responses to American Broadcasting



Television at the Movies Cinematic and Critical Responses to American Broadcasting by Jon Nelson Wagner, Tracy Biga MacLean

This title provides a unique approach to the study of television.This overview of television criticism comes appropriately at a moment of change. Television is becoming dramatically different as a result of new and developing technologies such as cable, HDTV, satellite transmission and broadband distributions. By concentrating on the still-dominant notion of television, what the authors call Classical Network Television, they argue that it is as important to understand this model as it is to understand Classical Hollywood Cinema.The co-authors have a unique approach to the study of television, viewing its history and reception not only through important articles about the medium, but also through analyzing how Hollywood auteur cinema has commented on television over the decades, in films such as Tootsie , Network , The Last Picture Show , A Face in the Crowd , Rollerball , The King of Comedy and others. Not only does this reflect the pervasive use of cinema theory to discuss television, it also helps to emphasize the importance of clarifying the distinctions between the criticisms of the two media. The Question of Television argues that the study of television is a crucial aspect of understanding our recent and contemporary culture, and it provides an illuminating point of entry for students and researchers in the field.


Jon Nelson Wagner and Tracy Biga MacLean have a style at once limpid and poetic, along with a judiciousness that allows them to make use of the best in the tradition of grand theory while being refreshingly critical of that theory's overblown hostility to its own objects of study. Through brilliant analyses of a half century's cinematic representations of TV, they show this hostility to be an essential ingredient of classic broadcast TV's irresolute imaginary and offer a history of the idea of television, a history of the framing of its reception for audiences and academic analysts alike. Rather than condemning TV or cinema for their ideological instrumentality, Wagner and MacLean challenge us to accept the fearsome work of enjoyment, to understand and appreciate television's powers and its pleasures. Tom Lutz, author of Crying: The Natural and Cultural History of Tears (1999); Cosmopolitan Vistas: American Regionalism and Literary Value (2004); Doing Nothing: A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers and Bums in America (2007) Having mated with its mother, radio, television set out to kill the father, the Movies and this book by Jon Nelson Wagner and Tracy Biga MacLean chronicles the Oedipal standoff that's raged between the two media ever since. Insightful, brilliant and not a little subversive, Television at the Movies is instantly definitive, with new revelations about both movies and TV revealed in each other's glow. Steve Erickson, author of Zeroville (2007), Our Ecstatic Days (2006), and many more

About the Author

Jon Nelson Wagner, PhD, teaches film, television, cultural studies, and English at the California Institute of the Arts. Tracy Biga MacLean, PhD, teaches film, television, cultural studies, and English at Pitzer College, in Claremont, California.

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

10th July 2008


Jon Nelson Wagner, Tracy Biga MacLean

More books by Jon Nelson Wagner, Tracy Biga MacLean
Author 'Like for Like'


Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


240 pages


Popular culture



Lovereading is pitched at just the right level for all the various types of people who enjoy reading in its many forms.

Pam Woodburn

Hooked on books? Give Lovereading a go - for the chance to discover brilliant books, and to see why our members love it so.

Claire Hill

I love reading books I wouldn't normally choose before everyone else gets to read them!

Dawn Lynch

Lovereading has given me the opportunity to delve into new and exciting worlds of authors who I would never have tried before.

Glynis Elliott

I 'Lovereading' because it lets me see what new books are around with a detailed synopsis and readers' reviews.

Judith Sharp

Lovereading recommends, honestly reviews and promotes books-what more can I say?!

Rachel Bridgeman

If you LOVE reading then you will love LOVEREADING! It's a 'novel' idea. Seriously though I could not recommend them enough.

Rebecca Whymark

Lovereading is like booking a holiday, you don't know what it will be like and it is a whole new experience.

Sue Burton