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Make Room for TV

Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Between 1948 and 1955, nearly two-thirds of all American families bought a television set—and a revolution in social life and popular culture was launched.

In this fascinating book, Lynn Spigel chronicles the enormous impact of television in the formative years of the new medium: how, over the course of a single decade, television became an intimate part of everyday life. What did Americans expect from it? What effects did the new daily ritual of watching television have on children? Was television welcomed as an unprecedented “window on the world,” or as a “one-eyed monster” that would disrupt households and corrupt children?

Drawing on an ambitious array of unconventional sources, from sitcom scripts to articles and advertisements in women’s magazines, Spigel offers the fullest available account of the popular response to television in the postwar years. She chronicles the role of television as a focus for evolving debates on issues ranging from the ideal of the perfect family and changes in women’s role within the household to new uses of domestic space. The arrival of television did more than turn the living room into a private theater: it offered a national stage on which to play out and resolve conflicts about the way Americans should live.

Spigel chronicles this lively and contentious debate as it took place in the popular media. Of particular interest is her treatment of the way in which the phenomenon of television itself was constantly deliberated—from how programs should be watched to where the set was placed to whether Mom, Dad, or kids should control the dial.

Make Room for TV combines a powerful analysis of the growth of electronic culture with a nuanced social history of family life in postwar America, offering a provocative glimpse of the way television became the mirror of so many of America’s hopes and fears and dreams.

From Publishers Weekly

Jun 01, 1992 – This cultural history examines the postwar period, in which television was installed in nearly two-thirds of the nation's homes and replaced the movie theater as the primary source of entertainment. Spigel, who teaches at the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-TV, analyzes other popular media, such as women's magazines, to show the ambivalent societal responses to this new technology, which promised both to unite and separate families. Though filled with academic jargon, the book is a thoughtful treatment of a neglected really? aren't there dozens of books about dawn of TV age?/gen says there aren't many books on this topic so please stet/pk area of study, which may interest students of popular culture and perhaps trigger some nostalgia. Spigel places the television in the context of changing technology, suburbanization and a redefinition of leisure. Soap operas and variety shows were designed to accommodate the work pattern of housewives. Spigel argues that television not only intensified the retreat to suburbia but also provided a new form of community. Surveying television comedies, she suggests that they gave viewers the opportunity to laugh at staged domesticity, but at the same time to feel closer to the scene of the action, thus crossing the border between fiction and reality. OK that `fiction/reality' motif closes previous review as well?/stet both/pk
Make Room for TV
View in iTunes
  • $31.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Social Science
  • Published: Nov 26, 2013
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Seller: Chicago Distribution Center
  • Print Length: 246 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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