1st Edition

20th Century Media and the American Psyche A Strange Love

By Charisse L'Pree Corsbie-Massay Copyright 2021
    210 Pages
    by Routledge

    210 Pages
    by Routledge

    This innovative text bridges media theory, psychology, and interpersonal communication by describing how our relationships with media emulate the relationships we develop with friends and romantic partners through their ability to replicate intimacy, regularity, and reciprocity.

    In research-rich, conversational chapters, the author applies psychological principles to understand how nine influential media technologies—theatrical film, recorded music, consumer market cameras, radio, network and cable television, tape cassettes, video gaming, and dial-up internet service providers—irreversibly changed the communication environment, culture, and psychological expectations that we then apply to future media technologies. With special attention to mediums absent from the traditional literature, including recorded music, cable television, and magnetic tape, this book encourages readers to critically reflect on their own past relationships with media and consider the present environment and the future of media given their own personal habits.

    20th Century Media and the American Psyche is ideal for media studies, communication, and psychology students, scholars, and industry professionals, as well as anyone interested in a greater understanding of the psychological significance of media technology, usage, and adoption across the past 150 years.

    Introduction: Why Media?

    Section 1: Intimate Media—Sharing Experiences 

    1. Theatrical Film 

    2. Recorded Music 

    3. Consumer Market Cameras 

    Section 2: Regular Media—Synchronizing Experiences 

    4. Radio 

    5. Network Television 

    6. Cable Television 

    Section 3: Reciprocal Media—Affecting Experiences 

    7. Magnetic Tape 

    8. Video Gaming 

    9. Dial-up ISP


    Charisse L’Pree Corsbie-Massay is Associate Professor of Communications at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Charisse has dedicated nearly two decades to helping students think differently about media. In 2017, Charisse received the Award for Teaching Excellence from the Newhouse Graduating Senior Class. The current volume is inspired by a class entitled “Psychology of Interactive Media,” taught at the University of Southern California and Syracuse University.

    "20th Century Media and the American Psyche is an ideal textbook for educators who want to help their students engage with the impact of more than a century of changing media on the ways we think, remember the past, interact with others, and construct our identities. The perspectives here are both productive and generative, pushing aside old assumptions and pushing us to ask new questions. And the writing is engaging, personal, and witty, all of the things most textbooks are not. The interdisciplinary fusion of media psychology and media history is especially welcomed as a way to get students thinking critically about what has changed and what has remained as a consequence of earlier media ‘revolutions.’" Henry Jenkins, Provost Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts, and Education at the University of Southern California and Author of Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide

    "A refreshingly warm, intimate exploration of what in less loving hands could be a chilly subject. L’Pree’s core commitment to our essential human ability to embrace media as a partner in our reach for identity and community is a psychology full of heart. Virtuosic in its research, and as gleeful as a selfie, this book is indispensable cheat code for anyone endeavoring to understand how we use technology to both celebrate and share our personhood." Donny Jackson, Clinical Psychologist and Emmy Award Winning Executive Producer of CNN's United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell


    "Dr. L’Pree's incisive observations about media and culture never fail to make me rethink concepts I thought I understood. 20th Century Media and the American Psyche shows us how deeply our experience of narrative is influenced and informed by the forms of media in which that content is delivered. The ideal marriage of theory and experience, this book connects and makes explicit the sometimes invisible impact of media—from physical experience to psychological impact—on our understanding of ourselves through the stories we consume. Her rare intellect, combined with her ability to cut to the heart of any topic with compassion and deep analysis, makes her an author whose books will always have a reserved space on my shelf." Lani Diane Rich, narrative expert and New York Times bestselling author

    "Move over McLuhan, there’s a new media maven in our midst. In a book rich in sophisticated scholarship, exhilarating analyses, and some enlightened autobiographical fun, Dr. L’Pree invents and then develops a new interdisciplinary approach to ‘media psychography.’ This is a media studies book that’s truly about the media---medium by medium. It retrieves the idea that ‘the media’ are not just content and companies, but storage and transmission, examining the liberating properties of magnetic tape, for example, and the demographically diverse buffet that came courtesy of the coaxial cable. L’Pree proposes a new history of our complex psychological relationship to the ever-evolving technologies by which we communicate, play, and think about ourselves and each other." Robert Thompson, Director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture and Trustee Professor at Syracuse University

    "I spend a lot my time finding signals inside the noise, as a thinker and a builder. With the pace of change inside of media accelerating, A Strange Love provides a sharp perspective about our not so distant past and building the future, and Professor L’Pree’s painstaking look at 20th century media and its lasting impacts on how we think, see, share, and do, couldn’t be more relevant. This is a useful resource for anyone leading an organization who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the forces that continue to impact how we think, feel, and see the world around us, and what that might mean for the new realities we are trying to build. If you’re leading teams, building products, or looking to engage with audiences thoughtfully and consistently, pick this up, and don’t put it down." Jonathan Jackson, Co-Founder of BLAVITY and Nieman-Berkman Klein Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

    "In her timely but also visionary 20th Century Media and the American Psyche: A Strange Love, Charisse L’Pree Corsbie-Massay looks at media across three features, ‘intimacy, regularity, and reciprocity.’ Each figure illuminates a historical dimension of media while anticipating a future media that is to come and that has already begun to arrive. L’Pree weaves close readings of individual works, platforms, and technologies, infusing these analyses with doses of autobiography and first-person reflection. She forges in the process a brilliant analysis of the media and the ‘strange loves’ they engender, broadcast, and transmit." —Akira Mizuta Lippit, Professor and Vice Dean of Faculty at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and Author of Ex-Cinema: From a Theory of Experimental Film and Video

    "L’Pree connects the dots between media usage and self-understanding in a way that allows me to appreciate why, as a kid, I stayed so close to the radio speaker with boombox in hand in order to record my next favorite song to share with others in my life; why mix tapes served as a form self-expression through music; and why I have spent a 30+ year career in radio. 20th Century Media and the American Psyche helps me understand that my past and present relationship with media is intertwined with my personal relationships and far more complex than I imagined. It’s a reminder of why legacy media like radio continues defy disruption and there is nothing at all passive about its consumption." Joe Lee, Director & General Manager of WAER FM, Syracuse, New York