Terhi Rantanen's Book Explores Early Comparative Communications Research in the US

Professor Terhi Rantanen's book, "Dead Men's Propaganda", was launched at the London School of Economics, exploring early comparative communications research in the US. The open-access publication analyzes the work of key academics and practitioners between the 1920s and 1950s.

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Nitish Verma
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Terhi Rantanen's Book Explores Early Comparative Communications Research in the US

Terhi Rantanen's Book Explores Early Comparative Communications Research in the US

Professor Terhi Rantanen's book, "Dead Men's Propaganda: Ideology and Utopia in Comparative Communications Studies", was launched on Wednesday, May 8, 2024, at the London School of Economics (LSE). The open-access publication, available through LSE Press, investigates the development of early comparative communications research between the 1920s and 1950s in the United States.

Why this matters: Understanding the intellectual history of comparative communications research can provide valuable insights into the evolution of communication studies and its impact on society. This book's findings can also inform contemporary debates on the role of media and communication in shaping public opinion and policy.

In her book, Rantanen explores the work of academics and practitioners, including Harold Lasswell, Kent Cooper, Paul Kecskemeti, and Nathan Leites. She analyzes the extent and importance of their work both outside and inside the academy, drawing on detailed archival research and case studies. Rantanen uses conceptual lenses from Karl Mannheim and Robert Merton to understand the shaping of comparative communications research during this period.

The study reveals that comparative communications research has been governed by the Mannheimian concepts of ideology and utopia, resulting in a bias in knowledge production and contributing to dominant narratives of generational conflicts. Rantanen's book challenges orthodoxies in the intellectual histories of communication studies and provides a nuanced understanding of the genealogy of comparative communications.

Professor John C. Nerone, Professor Emeritus of Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, praises the book, saying: "Dead Men's Propaganda offers a fascinating account of the genealogy of comparative communications... Anyone interested in the history of communication research has to read this book."

The book is primarily intended for second-year and upwards undergraduate students in media and communications studies, comparative communications, propaganda studies, and sociology. Each chapter is also available for download for use in courses covering specific theorists.

"Dead Men's Propaganda" sheds new light on the early development of comparative communications research in the United States. Rantanen's in-depth exploration of key figures and their work challenges existing narratives and provides valuable insights into the field's intellectual history. The book serves as an important resource for students and scholars interested in understanding the roots and evolution of comparative communications studies.

Key Takeaways

  • Professor Terhi Rantanen's book "Dead Men's Propaganda" explores early comparative communications research in the US.
  • The book investigates the development of the field between the 1920s and 1950s.
  • Rantanen analyzes the work of key academics and practitioners, including Harold Lasswell and Nathan Leites.
  • The book challenges existing narratives and provides new insights into the field's intellectual history.
  • The open-access publication is available through LSE Press and intended for media and communications students.