Tentative Cover Photo

LIFE magazine photo of TV sets
Different stations available to CATV subscribers.

Over the past three editions, Television has featured photographs on its covers that show people watching television. We continue that tradition on the fifth edition’s cover with an image from LIFE magazine that Getty Images titles, “Showing different stations available to CATV subscribers.”

When it first appeared in LIFE in January 1966 it illustrated the variety of channels that were available to “community antenna TV” (CATV) subscribers at that time. CATV was the first form of “cable television” in the U.S. and would eventually lead to the vast profusion of cable channels in the 1990s. In turn, the proliferation of cable networks came to disrupt the dominance of over-the-air broadcast networks—a harbinger of future upheaval caused by on-demand streaming services.

We’re in the process of licensing the photograph from Getty and the cover still has not been fully designed. So, this photograph might not make it to the final cover, but, as of now, it’s likely that it will.

Photo credit: Arthur Schatz.

New Title! Television: Visual Storytelling and Screen Culture

It’s no secret that television has changed significantly since we first chose a name for Television: Critical Methods and Applications back in 1994. That title has served us well for over two decades, but we’ve decided a new subtitle might better reflect the book’s content—especially since we have a new chapter contributed by Amanda Lotz on TV in the post-network era.

So we bandied a few ideas about and came up with:

Television: Visual Storytelling and Screen Culture

The new edition still accounts for TV’s functioning in the network era, but we also go deeper into new forms of visual storytelling and screen culture in an age in which screens have proliferated.

Let us know what you think of the new title!


5th Edition Has Been Submitted to Routledge!

This afternoon we submitted all the word-processing, spreadsheet and image files that will make up the fifth edition of Television. We should be on-track for a fall 2018 release!

Highlights of the fifth edition include:

  • An entirely new chapter by Amanda D. Lotz on television in the contemporary media environment.
  • Discussions integrated throughout on the latest developments in screen culture during the on-demand era—including the impact of binge-watching and the proliferation of screens (smartphones, tablets, computer monitors, etc.).
  • Updates on the effect of new digital technologies on TV style. • Over three hundred printed illustrations, including new and better quality screen shots of recent television shows and commercials and new narrative diagrams.
  • A companion website containing color screen shots, a glossary, flash cards, and do-it-yourself video editing and sound exercises for students, as well as PowerPoint presentations, sample syllabi, and sample student papers for instructors. Simplified short links to online videos that support examples in the text are provided.
  • We’ve decided that “Critical Methods and Applications” sounds a bit stodgy. Watch this space for a new subtitle!

Author Bios

Jeremy G. Butler is Professor of Journalism and Creative Media at the University of Alabama. He has taught television, film, and new media courses since 1980 and is active in online educational resources for television and film studies.

Amanda D. Lotz is Professor of media studies at the University of Michigan and Fellow at the Peabody Media Center. She is the author of several books about television and its changes from the 1990s through the present.

New Edition of Television Is Under Contract

We’ve signed a contract to revise Television yet again!

A fifth edition of the textbook should be out sometime in 2018, if all goes according to plan.

Television has changed immensely since our first edition in 1994. Helping us bring the book into the 21st century will be Amanda D. Lotz—an acknowledged expert on the contemporary television landscape. She is the author of Portals: A Treatise on Internet-Distributed Television (2017), the co-author of Understanding Media Industries (2011, 2016) and the editor of Beyond Prime Time: Television Programming in the Post-Network Era (2009). Amanda will contribute a completely new chapter on TV in the digital, online age.

Please watch this site for further updates on our progress.

Unique Video Resource

[Update, February 23, 2017: 

Due to persistent hacking, we’ve had to remove the list of links, but we have kept our link shortener going. So, individual links to sites should still work. We’re sorry for an inconvenience.]

We’ve just launched a unique online resource that enhances the printed textbook: a listing of all the Web links in the book, with embedded thumbnail versions of video links.

Instructors and students may now sample virtually all the video clips from a single Web page:

  • tvcrit.com/find

Television: Critical Methods and Applications is the first media-studies textbook, to my knowledge, to shorten all the book’s video links to make them much easier to type into a Web browser. For example, you can browse to an All My Children clip by entering the following into your browser:

And you don’t have to struggle through the full URL:

  • http://criticalcommons.org/Members/jbutler/clips/allmychildren.mov/view

Instead, that short URL bounces you over to the clip’s location. Easy peasy.

The listing of all these shortened links–with embedded video–on a single Web page makes it even simpler for instructors and students to check out Television‘s video resources.

We hope this will enrich your experience of Television. Please contact us if you find a broken link.

P.S. Thanks go to Lily Wang for helping prepare the embedded video.


Companion Website Launched

Television‘s companion Website has been launched at:


Please note, this link is different from the one originally advertised and the one printed in the book itself. (Hopefully, this will be corrected in future printings.)

The Television companion website offers a full array of online resources for both students and instructors.

Student Resources

  • A Do-it-Yourself Video Editing Exercise allows students to rearrange the order of shots from a TV commercial using video editing software to see how shot order has an impact on the story.
  • A Do-it-Yourself Sound Exercise allows students to apply different music clips to a TV commercial to show how sound impacts images.
  • Tutorials on capturing stills from video and high-definition video, and a clip-DVDtutorial.
  • Glossary of key terms used throughout the book.
  • Interactive Flashcards help students to learn key terms.
  • Full-color Image Gallery of nearly 300 images in the book.
  • Video Links that correspond to the links highlighted in the book.

Instructor Resources

  • PowerPoint Presentations provide lecture outlines for each chapter, and include every image in the book.
  • Sample Chapters from the Third Edition and Fourth Edition.
  • Sample Syllabi help instructors design their course and incorporate the text into their teaching.
  • Sample Student Papers, including narrative analyses and critical analyses of popular television shows.


The Fourth Edition Has Arrived!

Television: Critical Methods and Applications has been called the “best textbook on television available today” (Ellen Seiter, USC). Its main goal is to encourage readers to think critically about TV. Written by Jeremy G. Butler and originally published in 1994, its fourth edition was released in December 2011.

Television cover.
Cover for the fourth edition.

Videography, editing, acting, set design, lighting and sound are analyzed and explained in terms of how they are used to tell stories, present news, and sell products to TV viewers.

This student-friendly text provides critical and historical contexts, discussing how critical methods have been applied to the medium and highlighting the evolution of television style through the decades.

Television is illustrated with hundreds of frame grabs from TV programs. A companion Website, hosted by Routlege, presents color versions of these black-and-white figures and augments them with video clips, sample student papers, syllabi, and other material. It is available at:


Highlights of the fourth edition include:

  • New chapter and part organization to reflect the current approach to teaching television—with greatly expanded methods and theories chapters.
  • An entirely new chapter on modes of production and their impact on what you see on the screen.
  • Discussions integrated throughout on the latest developments in television’s on-going convergence with other media, such as material on transmedia storytelling and YouTube’s impact on video distribution.
  • Over three hundred printed illustrations, including new and better quality frame grabs of recent television shows and commercials.
  • companion website featuring color frame grabs, a glossary, flash cards, and editing and sound exercises for students, as well as PowerPoint presentations, sample syllabi and other materials for instructors. Links to online videos that support examples in the text are also provided.

With its distinctive approach to examining television, Television is appropriate for courses in television studies, media criticism, and general critical studies.