Revolutions in Communication:

Media History from Gutenberg to the Digital Age

Bill Kovarik, Professor of Communications, Radford College

Continuum Books/Bloomsbury Academic 2011

 (A second, revised edition will be published in 2015)

We are living at the crest of a communication revolution.


It’s not the first – several other communication revolutions have left their impacts – but it is the most significant. The rise of the Information Age, the fall of the traditional media, and the bewildering explosion of personal information services are all connected to the historical chain of communications revolutions.


We need to understand these revolutions because they influence our present and future as much as any other trend in history. And we need to understand them not simply on a national basis – an unstable foundation for history in any event – but rather as part of the emergent global communications network.


Revolutions in Communication, as a university-level textbook, examines these issues on the broadest possible level with a variety of supplemental and extensible peripheral information modules.

The book brings a much-needed updating to media histories used in colleges today, explaining changes in technology (including the most recent digital media, such as Twitter) and providing communications students with a variety of historical frames of reference for their studies.


This project will also use new communications technologies to invite international collaboration through a blog and wiki about media history. The book and website structure will serve as the student’s starting point, the professor’s resource, and the author's experiment in an important area of history.


Revolutions in Communication brings unique approaches to the international history of media:


Online supplements – A website like the one at http://www.radford.edu/~wkovarik/class/history/treasury/ could provide supplemental

readings, instructor exchanges, and cost reductions.

International comparisons – An emphasis on the similarities between U.S. and European media history gives this book international sales potential.

Multidisciplinary. This textbook includes the history of computing, networking, photography, cinema, advertising, and corporate speech along with journalism and broadcasting. This approach, not taken in any other communications history textbooks, better reflects the associated curricula taught in modern communications departments.

Teacher support, particularly for those who may not have extensive background in media history. Support may include sample tests, study guides, lecture notes, and teaching ideas.


Bill Kovarik is Professor of Communication at Radford University in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia. He served as the 2009 Canwest Global Media Fellow at the University of Western Ontario. Kovarik is a journalist and a historian who has worked with wire services, daily newspapers, and national news magazines. He teaches science and environment writing, journalism, Web design, media history media law, and peace studies. He currently writes for Appalachian Voice and other environmental publications.


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