RADIO, TELEVISION, AND FILM STUDIES
Unless otherwise noted, all biographies were written by Peter Simonson and Lauren Archer.
Hope Lumin Klapper
Gladys Engel Lang
Mae Dena Huettig
Ruth C. Peterson
(1914-2005) was an innovative alcohol researcher and psychiatrist who started out working with Paul Lazarsfeld at Columbia in the 1940s. Born in Germany to American parents, she came with her family to the U.S. before returning to Europe and growing up in Brussels. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1935, then received her masters from Columbia in 1938 and her PhD in 1946. She worked for the Office of Radio Research
in the early 1940s, the Office of War Information
, and the American Jewish Committee
. Though she remembered wanting to write a dissertation on whether revolution was necessary in the U.S. given intergenerational mobility , Lazarsfeld steered her toward a more methodological study of ways to measure socio-economic status. After finishing her Ph.D, she would enroll in medical school at the University of Rochester, graduating in 1951, and becoming a psychiatrist. She moved to San Francisco, where she participated in the first mass polio immunization program (1955). With grant money she would start the California Drinking Practices Study in 1959 and serve as the study's director. The study would later become the Alcohol Research Group. Knupfer volunteered as a civil rights physician during the summer of the Freedom Rides in 1961 and was active in fights for fair housing and peace in Vietnam (she would be arrested at an anti-war demonstration in 1967). In 1966, Knupfer published an article on the mental health of the unmarried, which found that the happiest people were single women and married men; it attracted significant attention attention for its unexpected conclusions. An intellectual leader in the field of alcoholism, she published a number of important and influential articles.
Lazarsfeld, Paul, and Genevieve Knupfer. 1945. Communications research and international cooperation. In The Science of Man in the World Crisis
, ed. Ralph Linton, 465-495. New York: Columbia University Press.
Doctoral dissertation: (1946) Indices of socio-economic status: A study of some problems in measurement, later published as a book.
Knupfer, Genevieve. 1947. Portrait of the underdog. Public Opinion Quarterly
Knupfer, Genevieve and Robin Room. 1964. Age, sex, and social class as factors in amount of drinking in a metropolitan community. Social Problems
Knupfer, Genevieve, Walter Clark, and Robin Room. 1966. The mental health of the unmarried. The American Journal of Psychiatry
. 122: 841-851
Knupfer, Genevieve. 1967. The epidemiology of problem drinking. American Journal of Public Health
Knupfer, Genevieve. 1987. Drinking for health: The daily light drinker fiction. Addiction
Room, Robin. 2006. Genevieve Knupfer, 1914–2005: Turning presumption into researchable questions. Addiction 101(5): 746-47.
(1922-1998) was a sociologist interested in mass communication about politics as well as education. In the mid-1940s she worked for the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) where she studied radio coverage of labor. Leila also served as analyst for Hutchins Commission on Freedom of the Press. While a graduate student at Columbia University, she worked under Robert K. Merton, participating in a letter study that aimed to understand communication from the masses rather than to the masses. Leila then published a study on letters written to FDR as part of her dissertation project. Over the course of her career she taught at Wellesley, University of Massachusetts, and Tufts.
Cohen, R., Cohen, R., and Roosevelt, E. (2002). Dear Mrs. Roosevelt: Letters from Children of the Great Depression
. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
Sussman, L. (1945). Labor in the radio news: An analysis of content. Journalism Quarterly
, 22, 207-214.
Sussman, L. (1948-49). The personnel and ideology of public relations. Public Opinion Quarterly
, 12(4), 697-708.
Sussman, L. (1956). FDR and the White House mail. Public Opinion Quarterly
, 20(1), 5-16. Reprinted in John Durham Peters and Peter Simonson, (Eds.), Mass Communication and American Social Thought: Key texts, 1919-1968
. Latham, MI: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Sussman, L. (1959). Mass political letter writing in America: The growth of an institution. Public Opinion Quarterly
, 23(2), 203-212.
Sussman, L. (1977). Tales Out of School
. Philadelphia: Temple University.
Sussman, L. (1983). News coverage in the downfall of Nixon. Contemporary Sociology
, 12(6) 627-629.
Sussman, L. (1984). Anatomy of the dance company boom, 1958-1980. Dance Research Journal
, 16(2), 23-28.
Sussman, L. (1998). Dance audiences: Answered and unanswered questions.” Dance Research Journal
, 30(1), 54-63.
(1918-1989) was a highly influential German-born social psychologist who taught at the London School of Economics (LSE) from 1948 to 1982. Born Hildegaard Litthaeur in Berlin, she came from a long line of scholars including Robert Remack, her great-grandfather, who was a famous neurologist and the first Jewish professor in Prussia. Her father was a chemist, and after he died she emigrated to England in 1934 to escape Nazi oppression. She studied at Cambridge, and completed masters degrees in modern languages (1940) and psychology (1942). She completed her doctorate in psychology in 1945 from the University of London. She joined the LSE and became a reader in social psychology. From 1954-58, she served as the director of the Nuffield Foundation Television Enquiry, conducting an extensive study aimed at understanding the effects of television on children. The study included interviews with 4,000 children over the age of four and, at a time when television was still relatively new, considered how children used the new medium, their tastes in programming, and television's broader influence on values and education. The study would be published as Television and the Child
(1958) and would become her most well-known work. In 1964, Himmelweit became the first professor of Social Psychology in Great Britain, started the Department of Social Psychology at LSE, and effectively launched the subject as a university discipline in that country. She would teach communication at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1974 and at Stanford University in 1975, and was a member of a research group at the Gannet Center for Media Studies at Columbia University in 1987. In 1981, she published an important study in political psychology, How Voters Decide, based on fifteen years of interviews with young people over fifteen years. Her last book was published posthumously after Himmelweit lost her battle with cancer.
Himmelweit, Hilde. 1950. Student selection—An experimental investigation: I. British Journal of Sociology
Himmelweit,Hilde, A.N. Oppenhiem, and Pamela Vince. 1958. Television and the Child
. New York: Oxford University Press.
Himmelweit, HIlde and Betty Swift. 1976. Continuities and discontinuities in media usage and taste: A longitudinal study. Journal of Social Issues
Himmelweit, Hilde, Marianne Jaeger Biberian, and Janet Stockdale. 1978. Memory for past vote: Implications of a study of bias in recall. British Journal of Political Science
Himmelweit, Hilde, Betty Swift, and Marianne Jaeger. 1980. The audience as critic: A conceptual analysis of television entertainment. In The Entertainment Functions of Television
by Percy H. Tannenbaum, 67-106. Social Science Research Council (US), Committee on Television and Social Behavior.
Himmelweit, Hilde, P. Humphreys, Marianne Jaeger, and M. Katz. 1981. How Voters Decide
. New York: Academic Press.
Himmelweit, Hilde, P. Humphreys, Marianne Jaeger, and M. Katz 1985. How Voters Decide
, Revised and updated. New York: Academic Press.
Himmelweit, Hilde, and George Gaskell (eds.). 1990. Societal Psychology
. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
HOPE LUMIN KLAPPER
(? - 2001) earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University then worked as a Professor in the Sociology Department at New York University. Her research focused on children's consumption and perceptions of television as well as the classroom setting, and she taught courses in mass communications and related topics. She was married to Joseph T. Klapper, who was the head of social research for CBS. Klapper took part in a pilot study by New York University to use closed circuit television in teaching college courses and wrote a report on the experience. Her influence is evidenced by the fact that Kurt and Gladys Lang credit her, in Politics and Television
(1968), with coining the phrase “law of minimal consequences.” She was also the first woman elected to serve as President of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, a position she held from 1977-1978.
Klapper, H. L. (1958). Closed-circuit television as a medium of instruction at New York University, 1956-1957: A report on New York's University's second year of experimentation
. New York University.
Klapper, H. L. (1958). Does lack of contact with the lecturer handicap televised instruction? Journal of Educational Sociology
Klapper, H. L. (1959). Prevalent interests and concerns in the field of televised instruction. Journal of Educational Sociology
Klapper, H. L. (1967). The college teacher: A study of role performance, role preference, and role strain
. Columbia University.
Klapper, H. L. (1969). The young college faculty member—A new breed? Sociology of Education
Klapper, H. L. (1976). Did the Networks “Blackball” Social Scientists? Journal of Communication
Klapper, H. L. (1976). Cognitive development in television perception. Learning, Media, and Technology
Klapper, H. L. (1978). Childhood socialization and television: Presidential remarks at AAPOR's 33rd annual conference in Roanoke, VA. Public Opinion Quarterly
, 42, 424-436.
Klapper, H. L. (1978). Children's perceptions of the realism of televised fiction: New wine in old bottles
. Unknown binding.
GLADYS ENGEL LANG--See Women of the Film page
MAE DENA HUETTING
By Aimee-Marie Dorsten
Mae Dena Huetting (1911- ?) was a potentially influential scholar who chose not to pursue a career as an academic, even though she built up a formidable network of connections in the field of communication working on the 1940s Motion Picture Research Project (MPRP) alongside Herbert Blumer, Harold Lasswell, Robert Lynd, and Louis Wirth. Huettig’s most significant contribution to communication scholarship is her 1944 landmark book, Economic Control of the motion picture industry
, a study in industrial organization, which sprung from her doctoral dissertation. One of the earliest analyses of film as an industry with a complex political economy, Economic Control
can still be considered a historically significant and relevant critique of film as a corporate medium.
Huettig developed her acute sense of the logic of industry at the Industrial Research Unit of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania under the guidance of Dr. Anne Bezanson. Bezanson was one of the founders of the Wharton IRU, who also became the first woman to join the standing faculty in Wharton’s Graduate School, as well as the first woman to hold a senior professorship at the University of Pennsylvania in 1929. Huettig’s education at the IRU overlapped several more conventional disciplines, including economics, business, and sociology. During her tenure at the Wharton IRU, Huettig’s work caught the attention of Leo C. Rosten, an academic-turned-screenwriter who also served as Chief of the Motion Pictures Division of the Office of Facts and Figures and as Deputy Director of the Office of War Information in the 1930s. Rosten hired Huettig in 1939 as a Research Associate for his prized project, the MPRP. With a Rockefeller Foundation grant, the MPRP studied the vertical integration of the Hollywood industry and its monopoly over production, distribution, and exhibition of film from 1939 until 1941. Even though Rosten ran the MPRP, it was Huettig who believed it necessary to conduct a “thorough-going study” of major motion picture revenues “broken down as to source, i.e. from affiliated theatres as compared to rentals from other theatres, as well as complete tabulations of cost and returns on specific pictures” (Huettig to Lubin, 17 April 1940).
As the MPRP’s primary research assistant, Huettig became involved in the United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc.
case. In trying to obtain information about the profit history of major studios, Huettig worked with Thurman Arnold, the prosecutor who testified on behalf of the American Theatres Association; with Paul Williams, whom she described as, “the special attorney in charge of the anti-trust suit”; and also with Isador Lubin, a commissioner for the US Department of Labor, who provided her and the prosecution with “unpublished governmental data” on the Hollywood industry (Huettig to Lubin, 17 April 1940). Economic Control
resulted from Huettig’s involvement, and her guiding research questions were: “Who decides what films are made; or… why are films what they are?” What she found was far from a free market; industry choices were dominated not by filmmakers, but by businesspeople who followed after them in the chain of production.
Not only are Huettig’s birth and early education currently unknown, but also unknown is her career trajectory following the MPRP and the publication of Economic Control. There is no information, in either print or with alumni organizations, whether she continued to conduct research, transferred to another industry, left academia for the private sector, or left the workforce altogether. What we do know is that Huettig’s work provided a methodology for bringing politics and economics closer to the study of communication.
Huettig, Mae D. 1944. Economic Control of the motion picture industry, a study in industrial organization
. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
DORTHY P. MARQUIS
was one of the earliest women to became involved with media research. Dorothy found a position working with the Payne Fund Study, a series of studies funded by the Payne Fund
(a private foundation), one of the first studies to consider media's impact on children. Dorothy's research focused on understanding what impact movies had on the sleeping habits of children. Although some argue that the Payne Fund Studies were unscientific, they also represented the first attempt to systematically study media effects. In total 13 studies were funded. This groundbreaking research built the foundation for studying the effects of media on children.
Renshaw, Samuel, Vernon A. Miller, and Dorothy P. Marquis. 1933. Children's Sleep: A Series of Studies on the Influence of Motion Pictures
. New York: The Macmillan Co.
Marquis, Dorothy P. 1933. A study of activity and postures in infants' sleep. Journal of Genetic Psychology
Marquis, Dorothy P. 1943. A study of frustration in newborn infants. Journal of Experimental Psychology
RUTH C. PETERSON
lead author for two of the Payne Fund Studies of movies and children.
Peterson, Ruth C. and Louis L. Thurston. 1932. The Effect of Motion Pictures on the Social Attitudes of High School Children
. Ann Arbor, MI: Edwards Brother.
Peterson, Ruth C. and Louis L. Thurston. 1933. Motion Pictures and the Social Attitudes of Children: A Payne Fund Study
. New York: Macmillan & Company.
By Aimee-Marie Dorsten with contributions from Lauren Archer
Hortense Powdermaker (1900-1970) conducted pioneering research that considered the importance of cultural practices in media production. Rather than seeing the study of culture and mediamaking as separate pursuits, Powdermaker was one of the first to perceive their connections in Hollywood the Dream Factory: An Anthropologist Looks at the Movie-makers
(1950), Copper Town: Changing Africa, the Human Situation on the Rhodesian Copperbelt
(1962), and several other related articles listed below. Her work resonates closely to what we now call cultural anthropology, cultural studies, or even political economy of communication. Despite the forward-looking nature of Powdermaker's work and her development of a new epistemology, little recognition has been given to her, and her work has not been fully incorporated into contemporary anthropological thought as much as it could be.
Powdermaker was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to a German-Jewish middle class family. The Powdermakers later relocated to Baltimore, Maryland where Hortense completed her bachelor’s degree in history at Goucher College in 1921. Following graduation, Powdermaker was inspired to consider issues of power and its implementation during her first job as a labor organizer for Amalgamated Clothing Workers union, a position she held during one of the most tumultuous periods in U.S. labor history. Powdermaker confesses in the last of her books, Stranger and Friend: the Way of an Anthropologist
(1966) that she did not originally intend to pursue a graduate career when she left Amalgamated for an extended stay in London. Nonetheless, she ended up working with some of the era’s most significant scholars at the London School of Economics. Under the social anthropologist and founder of Functionalism, Bronislaw Malinowski, as well as A.R. Radcliffe-Brown, Powdermaker earned her Ph.D. in 1928, during the “golden age” of anthropology when female graduate students were rare. As a doctoral student, she was the first female anthropologist to conduct research alone in the South Pacific on the island of Lesu in the early 1930s. Ultimately, a published work resulted from her ethnography in Papua New Guinea: Life in Lesu: the Study of a Melanesian Society in New Ireland
(1933). In this book the influence of Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown is apparent. Powdermaker's choice to study an isolated, singular society reflects Malinowski's own approach, while her use of singular analytical categories to explain behaviors came from her work with Radcliffe-Brown. While her work Life in Lesu
might have placed Powdermaker on the typical trajectory for anthropological work, in later years she would diverge from the expected.
Following Life in Lesu
, Powdermaker earned a research associate position at the Yale Institute of Human Relations, working under Edward Sapir. Powdermaker's vision of anthropological work led her to criticize structural functionalism, which was growing in popularity among American anthropologists and sociologists. She felt it led to oversimplified explanations and failed to acknowledge psychological elements of behavior, and thought anthropologists should grant more emphasis to the importance of the historical in understanding cultural behaviors. Powdermaker also wanted to bring anthropology “home” rather than studying remote societies. Working from this perspective, Powdermaker wrote After Freedom: A Cultural Study of the Deep South
(1939). This ethnography of race relations in the US represented the first anthropological study of a modern American culture. Despite Powdermaker's unique attempt to emphasize process rather than structure and to understand the role of human agency, her work was not well received in anthropoligical circles and even seen as morphing into sociology or political science.
As the Second World War ended, Powdermaker left Yale and became a full professor at Queens college, where she had been teaching since 1937. Powdermaker began to gravitate toward media as a significant part of her research agenda, and in 1945 she approached Paul Fejos, Director of The Viking Fund (also a fellow anthropologist and former filmmaker), to support a content analysis of current filmmaking. Fejos agreed, but only if she would live and work from inside the Hollywood industry for six months. He suggested she could better understand the relationship of movies to culture if she also studied the social-psychological milieu in which movies were produced. Under Fejos’ tutelage and a half-time visiting appointment at the UCLA Department of Anthropology, Powdermaker ended up staying from mid-1946 to mid-1947. Her time there resulted in Hollywood the Dream Factory
, which she dedicated to Fejos. Powdermaker's interest in the movies had come while studying in the South as she observed how audiences seems to interpret the films as true reflections of life and culture. Despite structural functionalism's continued popularity, Powdermaker maintained her own epistemological commitments.
demonstrated that media production could be understood as a “big business” driven by economics, yet more importantly directed by the power relations inherent in the social networks of the community. She was skeptical that film and television producers could consistently develop something of value, particularly because those who made content did so by functionalizing the human experience into “gimmicks” and repetitive “plots” as a means to sell peoples’ stories at a profit, an issue with which communication scholars still grapple.
Following directly on the heels of the Hollywood
’s publication and the growing demands of her anthropology faculty position at Queens College, Powdermaker convinced Fejos (now at the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research) to fund a Mass Communication Seminar organized by Powdermaker at Queens in May 1951, and with the participation of Paul Lazarsfeld and Harold Lasswell, who each chaired his own session (1953). In attendance at the seminar were other notables from a cross-disciplinary network, including anthropologist Alfred Kroeber; sociologist Leo Lowenthal, then a chief at the International Broadcasting Division of the State Department of New York City, and simultaneously the Director of Research at the Voice of America; and others from medicine, psychiatry, history, literature, languages, and law; as well as members of the Rockefeller Foundation, the US Army, and The Smithsonian Institution. Powdermaker outlined that the purpose of the conference was to: 1) recognize the increased reach of mass communication, 2) discuss the breadth and depth of the problems of mass communication that “no one discipline can cope adequately with,” and 3) consider the role anthropology might play in mass communication theory, since “the practice and science of mass communication is becoming more and more cross-cultural” (1953, p. iv). Interestingly, the most important research agenda the seminar participants developed from the conference was to study the significance of mass mediated images on the way in which people of a given society see themselves---an agenda Powdermaker herself would undertake in her next project in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia).
In the early-to-mid 1950s, Powdermaker’s concern with mass media effects spurred some of her last projects, including “Social Change Through Imagery and Values of Teen-Age Africans in Northern Rhodesia” and Copper Town: Changing Africa; the Human Situation on the Rhodesian Copperbelt
. In these connected projects, she studied the potential of mass communication to provide an index of social change in Northern Rhodesia by touring it in a “mobile cinema van” while she recorded the audience’s reaction to Western media products. She sought to understand how the co-mingling of traditional and modern forms of leisure could provide insight into social change. Copper Town
in particular attempts a holistic survey--of the tribal past of the town, its economic order, European influences and family life—but the largest portion of the book is devoted to analyzing leisure activities like radio and movie-going as well as consumption of print media. The book contains media effects theory, including uses and gratifications and audience studies, alongside an analysis of mass media’s global cultural and imperialistic implications. This seemingly multi-disciplinary approach led to lukewarm reception of the book among anthropological circles despite its attempt to more accurately reflect the complexity of the relationship between media and cultural behaviors.
In an attempt to maintain claims to being scientific in the face of post-WWII skepticism, anthropology was seeing a methodological shift, either toward Talcott Parsons' structural functionalism or towards Paul Lazarsfeld's reliance on quantitative data drawn from surveys. Amidst this climate, Powdermaker published perhaps her most recognized work: Stranger and Friend: The Way of An Anthropologist
. It was received as an accounting of the 'traditional' approach to anthropology. In the book, Powdermaker critiqued the current trend toward quantifying anthropology, arguing that the field had much to learn from dissenting voices and warning against losing the human element.
After an arguably full life of fostering development of more than one discipline, as well as teaching at multiple institutions including Queens College, UCLA, and the University of California at Berkeley, Powdermaker died in Berkeley, California in 1970. In many ways, Powdermaker was far ahead of her own time. Throughout her life, Powdermaker's work remained on the margins, never fully embraced by mainstream anthropology. Many of her studies anticipate more contemporary works in anthropology and can make important contributions to other disciplinary areas such as sociology, political science, media studies, and communication.
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1928. Leadership Among the Aborigines of Central and Southern Australia. Economica
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1931. Preliminary Report on Research in New Ireland. Oceania
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1931. Vital Statistics of New Ireland as Revealed in Genealogies. Human Biology
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1931. Mortuary Rites in New Ireland. Oceania
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1932. Feasts in New Ireland. American Anthropologist
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1933. Life in Lesu, The Study of Melanesian Society in New Ireland
. New York: W. W. Norton.
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1934. At Home on the Equator. The Atlantic Monthly
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1938. (with Joseph Semper) Education and Occupation Among New Haven Negroes. Journal of Negro History
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1939. After Freedom: A Cultural Study in the Deep South
. New York: Viking.
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1943. Commemoration of Professor Malinowski. Quarterly Bulletin of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1943. The Channeling of Negro Aggression by the Cultural Process. American Journal of Sociology
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1944. Probing Our Prejudices
. New York: Harper and Brothers.
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1944. The Anthropological Approach to the Problem of Modifying Race Attitudes. Journal of Negro Education
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1945. An Anthropologist Looks at the Race Problem. Social Action
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1947. An Anthropologist Looks at the Movies. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1950. Hollywood, the Dream Factory: An Anthropologist Studies the Movie Makers
. Boston: Little Brown & Co.
Hortense Powdermaker, 1950. Celluloid Civilization. Saturday Review of Literature
(Oct 14): 9-10, 43-45.
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1953. ed., Mass Communications Seminar, Proceedings of an Interdisciplinary Seminar held under the auspices of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. New York: Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1955. Communication and Social Change, Based on a Field Study in Northern Rhodesia. Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences
, series 11(17) : 430-440.
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1956. Social Change Through Imagery and Values of Teen-Age Africans in Northern Rhodesia. American Anthropologist
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1960. An Anthropological Approach to the Problem of Obesity. Bulletin, New York Academy of Medicine
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1965. Copper Town: Changing Africa, The Human Situation on the Rhodesian Copperbelt
. New York: Harper and Row.
Powdermaker, Hortense. 1966. Stranger and Friend, The Way of an Anthropologist
. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.
Wolf, Eric. 1971. Hortense Powdermaker, 1900-1970. American Anthropologist
73: 783- 786.
Hier, Sean P., and Candace L. Kemp. 2002. Anthropological stranger: The intellectual trajectory of Hortense Powdermaker. Women’s History Review
Powdermaker Web Page