Wittebols, James H. 1955–
Wittebols, James H. 1955–
PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced Wit-a-bowls; born August 22, 1955, in Mount Clemens, MI; son of Henry and Agatha (Jarczynski) Wittebols. Ethnicity: "European." Education: Central Michigan University, B.A., 1977; Washington State University, M.A., 1979, Ph.D., 1983. Politics: Independent. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, fitness.
ADDRESSES: Home—12761 Dillon Dr., Tecumseh, Ontario N8N 1C7, Canada. Office—Department of Communication Studies, University of Windsor, 401 Sunset Ave., Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Educational Research Service, Arlington, VA, research associate, 1985; Council of Chief State School Offices, Washington, DC, began as research associate, became senior research associate, 1985–87; Niagara University, Niagara, NY, assistant professor, 1987–93, associate professor, 1993–98, professor of communication studies, 1998–2004, department chair, 1994–2000; University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada, professor of communication studies and department head, 2004–. Union for Democratic Communications, coordinator, 1992–98; Western New York Peace Center, member of board of directors, 1994–96; Western New York Workers Rights Board, member, 1996–.
MEMBER: International Communication Association, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.
(With Glen E. Robinson) Class Size Research: A Related Cluster Analysis for Decision-Making, Educational Research Service (Arlington, VA), 1986.
Watching M∗A∗S∗H, Watching America: A Social History of the 1972–1983 Television Series, McFarland and Co. (Jefferson, NC), 1998.
The Soap Opera Paradigm: Television Programming and Corporate Priorities, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2004.
Contributor to periodicals, including Political Communication, Canadian Journal of Communication, Political Communication and Persuasion, Etc.: Review of General Semantics, Communication Theory, and EXTRA!
SIDELIGHTS: James H. Wittebols once told CA: "I wrote Watching M∗A∗S∗H, Watching America: A Social History of the 1972–1983 Television Series as a response to the idea that television is a 'liberal provocateur' of new ideas and trends. The book demonstrates that the 'progressive' orientation of M∗A∗S∗H is preceded by protest and changes in the larger socio-political milieu. The time of M∗A∗S∗H was an unprecedented time of political change in American society from the Vietnam era to the early Reagan years.
"As one of the few shows which 'made a statement,' M∗A∗S∗H stands in contrast to the ever increasing vapid, commercial-driven drivel which occupies television. Furthermore, it is the commercial/market priorities of television that put major social issues off the screen in favor of programming which places values such as consumerism, fear, self-indulgence, and alienation at the center."
More recently, he added: "My second book, The Soap Opera Paradigm: Television Programming and Corporate Priorities, takes another critical look at how television has evolved in the last two decades. I argue that the consolidation of many different media under the umbrellas of media conglomerates has changed the way stories—both fiction and nonfiction—are told to audiences.
"The soap opera is regarded as the 'commodity form' of television by virtue of its ability to attract and maintain audience segments desired by advertisers. As the bottom line for television producers has come to trump artistic considerations in producing programs, the soap opera format is increasingly visible in all kinds of programming—news and public affairs programs, reality shows, sports, and just about every program genre."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
AB Bookman's Weekly, December 7, 1998, review of Watching M∗A∗S∗H, Watching America: A Social History of the 1972–1983 Television Series, p. 1091.
Choice, January, 1999, review of Watching M∗A∗S∗H, Watching America, p. 880; March, 2005, L. Armstrong, review of The Soap Opera Paradigm: Television Programming and Corporate Priorities, p. 1223.
History: Review of New Books, winter, 2004, Charles T. Johnson, review of Watching M∗A∗S∗H, Watching America, p. 46.
Journal of Popular Culture, February, 2005, Robert W. Smith, review of Watching M∗A∗S∗H, Watching America, p. 595.
Reference and Research Book News, November, 1998, review of Watching M∗A∗S∗H, Watching America, p. 194; August, 2003, review of Watching M∗A∗S∗H, Watching America, p. 219; November, 2004, review of The Soap Opera Paradigm, p. 222.