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Media History in Canada Database

Author: Rutherford, Paul
Title: Encounters with Theory
Year: 2009
Publication: Communicating in Canada's Past: Essays In Media History
Editor: Gene Allen and Daniel J. Robinson
Pages: 271-296
Abstract: In this personal narrative, Rutherford describes his own development as a historian through the writing of books that do media history. He shows how his early career emphasized the archive and description, without theory. His early works looked at the nation and institutions, while his later works emphasized meanings and audience reception. As his work progressed, he increasingly turned to theory to explain his research, particularly British cultural theory in understanding television. Later, he would examine the works of Habermas and Foucault, among others, to sample various theories rather than pick one and apply it. He did not worry about applying these theory samples "correctly" and believed that a "creative misreading" was useful because the goal was to help the historian find a theoretical frame to provide context to historical work. For Rutherford, theory provides tools to coordinate and inspire research in media history. by Duncan Koerber