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Media And Revolution

Media And Revolution

Jeremy D. Popkin Editor
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Media And Revolution
    Book Description:

    As television screens across America showed Chinese students blocking government tanks in Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and missiles searching their targets in Baghdad, the connection between media and revolution seemed more significant than ever. In this book, thirteen prominent scholars examine the role of the communication media in revolutionary crises -- from the Puritan Revolution of the 1640s to the upheaval in the former Czechoslovakia.

    Their central question: Do the media in fact have a real influence on the unfolding of revolutionary crises? On this question, the contributors diverge, some arguing that the press does not bring about revolution but is part of the revolutionary process, others downplaying the role of the media.

    Essays focus on areas as diverse as pamphlet literature, newspapers, political cartoons, and the modern electronic media. The authors' wide-ranging views form a balanced and perceptive examination of the impact of the media on the making of history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5650-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Jeremy D. Popkin
  4. 1 Lessons from a Symposium
    (pp. 1-11)

    The historical essays included in this volume take us from the opening stages of the Puritan Revolution in 1640 to events in China and Czechoslovakia in 1989. They range in approach from a detailed case study of a single journal and its author to broad considerations of the media as a whole over the course of long and complex revolutionary events. They also indicate that scholars who share a common interest in the problem of media and revolution can come to very different conclusions about the significance of the connection between the two.

    Contributors took a wide degree of latitude...

  5. 2 Media and Revolutionary Crises
    (pp. 12-30)

    On 17 November 1830, a company of New York printshop workers gathered to celebrate the recently concluded July Revolution in France and to proclaim: “It is acknowledged, that principally through the Press, and those immediately connected with it, was the recent important and glorious Revolution in France effected—a Revolution which is destined ultimately to shake to its center every despotism in the old world.”¹ For the New York printers, the intimate connection between the phenomenon of revolution and the media of mass communication appeared unmistakable. So were the crucial roles of both the journalists whose words appeared in print...

  6. 3 Grub Street and Parliament at the Beginning of the English Revolution
    (pp. 31-47)

    When rules and systems collapse and no one is sure they will not return, there may be a moment when fear, hope, and the ridiculous commingle. Such a twinkling of time occurred at the beginning of 1641, when England’s reform-minded Long Parliament set about to dismantle Charles I’s apparatus of personal rule and to undo the damage it thought Charles had done to England's Protestant church. Soon the Parliament’s members found more on their plate than had been expected, as a new politics of crowds, religious passion, and vulgar opinion both unnerved them and served their interests.¹

    Perhaps nowhere was...

  7. 4 Propaganda and Public Opinion in Seventeenth-Century England
    (pp. 48-73)

    It is well known that from the eve of the English Civil War there was a sudden and dramatic surge in the output of the press.¹ As censorship controls broke down following the meeting of the Long Parliament in late 1640, there was a great explosion of pamphlet and other printed materials, discussing a wide range of political, constitutional, and religious topics, and it is probably not too controversial to assert that the English Revolution of the mid-seventeenth century was accompanied by a concomitant media revolution. That said, it is remarkable how little scholarly attention has been paid to the...

  8. 5 The Enticements of Change and America’s Enlightenment Journalism
    (pp. 74-89)

    The revolutions of eighteenth-century America and France were fostered by real grievances and persuasive political theories. Yet discontent and philosophy, even if combined in convincing rhetoric, do not necessarily produce radical political change. Populations can endure considerable hardship and humiliation without revolting. In the years between 1765 and 1800 Americans did not endure a costly and precarious movement from British monarchy to Jeffersonian democracy only to alleviate consitutional anxieties or to oppose the threat of despotism.¹ Rebellion becomes a dynamic force as it acquires—however gradually—moral and emotive dimensions that propel people beyond considerations of their own immediate security....

  9. 6 The Revolutionary Word in the Newspaper in 1789
    (pp. 90-97)

    The revolutionary commotion in the France of 1789 produced several effects that profoundly modified the informational content of periodicals. A progressive liberation, then a nearly total freedom brought about a quantitative explosion and permitted a real and direct commitment in the news and in domestic political struggles. The new relationship that developed between journalists and their audience thus inspired in the former ambitions of which their predecessors could barely have dreamed and in the latter an enhanced impatience, a need for information, and sometimes a will to respond actively to this information.

    The intervention of the journalist, together with the...

  10. 7 “The Persecutor of Evil” in the German Revolution of 1848-1849
    (pp. 98-114)

    One of the first acts of the provisional governments and liberal ministries created after the victories of the insurgents on the barricades in February-March 1848 was to proclaim freedom of the press. Doing so meant revolutionizing newspaper production. Even in the relatively liberal constitutional regimes of pre-1848 Europe, such as the July Monarchy, the press had been constrained by strict libel laws and requirements for large sums in caution money. In the states of central Europe, ruled in absolutist, or, at best, partially constitutional fashion, prior censorship was compulsory, and periodical publishing required a license. Without official approval, which was...

  11. 8 Antislavery, Civil Rights, and Incendiary Material
    (pp. 115-135)

    Once in the nineteenth century and once in our century, many Americans believed that new media were sounding the call for a racial revolution. In the 1830s, antislavery activists used print in new ways while their enemies, north and south, tried to stop this media revolution. In the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s, innovative national media put the white South on trial and again provoked outrage among conservatives. The reach of the media helps to explain the depth of feelings in these crises. Incendiary media illuminate the complex ways that texts are read when social relationships are...

  12. 9 American Cartoonists and a World of Revolutions 1789-1936
    (pp. 136-155)

    To judge by the rhetoric of two centuries, Americans seem to believe that revolution is too important to be left to the agitators. That a country formed in upheaval would take so active a dislike to disorder may be a matter demanding the talents not of a historian but of a psychologist. Yet the output of American cartoonists between the passage of a new Constitution and a New Deal leaves not the slightest doubt on this point.

    Admittedly, the classical imagery associated with liberty, both the torch and the Phrygian cap, would become stock symbols of American freedom. Columbia herself...

  13. 10 Pravda and the Language of Power in Soviet Russia, 1917-28
    (pp. 156-173)

    The press was a conspicuous emblem of Soviet society.¹ The revolutionaries honored it with a holiday, and central newspapers retained a recognizable likeness throughout the Soviet era. Yet there is much evidence that the newspapers, sprinkled as they were with unfamiliar foreign words and acronyms, were neither widely read nor readily understood by the semiliterate masses the revolutionaries often invoked.² Why then did the Bolsheviks prize them so?

    The answer is surprisingly simple. The press provided the leaders and growing numbers of sympathizers and functionaries with the array of symbols, self-images, and mentalities, as well as the shared purpose, that...

  14. 11 Press Freedom and the Chinese Revolution in the 1930s
    (pp. 174-188)

    The Chinese press has been an integral part of the Chinese revolutionary process, which began early in the nineteenth century with the uprisings that mushroomed into the Taiping and Nian rebellions of the 1850s and 1860s, and continues today with Leninist parties still in power on mainland China and Taiwan. The closeness of the relationship is well illustrated by the fact that, like Ho Chiminh and Lenin, most of China’s revolutionary leaders—such as Mao Zedong and Hong Xiuquan (founder of the Taipings)—began their careers as journalist-polemicists and not as political organizers. A modern press in China evolved from...

  15. 12 Mass Media and Mass Actions in Urban China, 1919-1989
    (pp. 189-219)

    The aim of this chapter is to see what the history of Chinese student activism can tell us about the connections between media revolutions and patterns of popular protest.¹ My main conclusion is that even though technological innovations in fields such as communication are bound to have profound effects upon certain features of the political process, they do not necessarily change the structure and meaning of public expressions of discontent. Since 1919, Chinese city life has been transformed in many ways, thanks in part to the introduction and growing importance of various forms of mass media, including radio and television....

  16. 13 Mass Media and the Velvet Revolution
    (pp. 220-232)

    There have been at least four revolutionary periods in the history of Czechoslovakia. In none of them did the mass media play a dominant role. In each of them, however, the revolution assigned a new role to the mass media. In most cases the new role was more instrumental than the one it replaced, despite the fact that it was usually the ineffectiveness of the press in the previous period that helped create the revolutionary movement.

    Communication did influence the “Velvet Revolution” of 1989, but in a complex and indirect way, delegitimizing the old regime before the revolution because of...

  17. Contributors
    (pp. 233-234)
  18. Index
    (pp. 235-248)