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John Fiske (media studies)

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Subject: Postmodernism, Post-structuralism, Semiotic democracy, Television studies, Mediation (Marxist theory and media studies)
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John Fiske (media studies)

John Fiske (born 1939)[1] is a media scholar who has taught around the world. He was a Professor of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His areas of interest include popular culture, mass culture, media semiotics and television studies. He is the author of eight books, including Power Plays, Power Works (1993), Understanding Popular Culture[2] (1989), Reading the Popular (1989), and the influential Television Culture (1987). Fiske also acts as a media critic, examining how cultural meaning is created in American society, and how debates over issues such as race are handled in different media. In May 2008, Fiske received an Honorary Degree from the University of Antwerp.


Fiske was educated in Britain. After graduating from Cambridge University he taught throughout the world including Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. He was the general editor of Cultural Studies at Curtin University in Western Australia, Australia during the 1980s to early 1990s. He is the author of books on television studies on popular culture and mass media. Fiske's books analyze television shows as "texts" to examine the different layers of meaning and sociocultural content. Fiske disagrees with the theory that mass audiences consume the products that are offered to them without thought. Fiske rejects the notion of "the audience" which assumes an uncritical mass. He instead suggests "audiences" with various social backgrounds and identities enabling them to receive texts differently.

Fiske's 1987 textbook on television, Television Culture, introduces the subject of television studies by examining the economic and cultural issues and the theory and text-based criticism. It also gives an overview of the arguments by British, American, Australian and French scholars. It was "one of the first books about television to take seriously the feminist agenda that has been so important to the recent development of the field."[3] Fiske is considered one of the first scholars applying semiotics to media texts following the tradition of poststructuralism, and coined the term semiotic democracy.

His life

In 2000 he was granted Emeritus status as a Professor of Letters and Science/Communication Arts after having taught at the University for 12 years (University of Wisconsin, 2000). He has since retired from academia.


  • Reading Television (J. Fiske & J. Hartley) (1978) ISBN 0-415-04291-7
  • Understanding Popular Culture (1989) ISBN 978-0-415-07876-4
  • Television Culture (Studies in Communication Series) (1987) ISBN 0-415-03934-7
  • Reading the Popular (Aug 1, 1989) London: Unwin Hyman Ltd. ISBN 978-0-415-07875-7
  • Power Plays, Power Works (1993) ISBN 0-86091-616-2
  • Introduction to Communication Studies (Studies in Culture and Communication) (Oct 25, 1990) ISBN 0-415-04672-6
  • Media Matters: Race and Gender in U.S. Politics (Mar 1996) ISBN 978-0-8166-2463-8
  • "Moments of Television: Neither the Text not the Audience" in Remote Control: Television, Audiences and Cultural Power E. Seiter, H. Borchers, G. Kreutzner and E-M. Warth (eds.) (1989) ISBN 978-0-415-06505-4
  • "Postmodernism and Television" in Mass Media and Society J. Curran and M. Gurevitch (eds.) (1991) ISBN 978-0-340-73201-4
  • "British Cultural Studies and Television" in Channels of Discourse, Reassembled R. C. Allen (ed.) (1992) ISBN 978-0-8078-4374-1
  • Chandler, D. 2001, Semiotics: The Basics, London: Routledge.
  • Drake, G. 2003, "This place gives me space: place and creativity in the creative industries", Geoforum 34 (4): 511–524.
  • Director of Centre, 2000, University of Queensland, Television: Past, Present and Futures, Accessed March 2008.
  • Florida, R. 2002, The Rise of the Creative Class and How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life, New York, Basic Books.
  • Frow, J. 2005, Australian Humanities Review, "Australian Cultural Studies: Theory, Story History", Issue 37, Accessed March 2008.
  • Müller, E. 1992, From Ideology to Knowledge and Power, Accessed April 2008
  • Nandy, 2006, Australian Journal of Cultural Studies, Volume 1–4: May 1983 – May 1987: Mission Statement, Accessed March 2008.
  • "Interview with John Fiske." O'Regan, M. 2000, ABC Radio National: The Media Report, Accessed March 2008.
  • Tims, C and Wright, S. 2007, Project Creativity In So What Do You Do? A New Question for Policy in the Creative Age. Accessed February 2008.
  • University of Wisconsin, August 2000, Faculty and academic staff granted emeritis/emerita status in 2000/2001, accessed March 2008


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  3. ^ MBC: Television studies
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