Roland Barthes’s “The Death of the Author” is a classic in postmodern thought, and it underscores many of the ideas I’ve explored here.
Peter Burke’s A social history of knowledge: from Gutenberg to Diderot delivers exactly what its title promises: a solid, illuminating treatment of the evolution of knowledge from the age of the printing press.
Well known in academic circles—and barely mentioned elsewhere—James Carey was the best of the best media analysts. His “Technology and Ideology: The Case of the Telegraph” provides a compelling look at an underconsidered technology: the telegraph.
Elizabeth Eisenstein’s The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe provides an important historical framework for the digital revolution we’re living right now. The book was also the inspiration for Clay Shirky’s famous essay, “Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable.”
Whether or not you agree with Michel Foucault’s power-dynamics-laced readings of history and literature, “What Is an Author?” is a provocative classic. Like Barthes’s essay, it underscores several of the ideas of authorship—and the authorial relationship to text—explored here.
Dan Gillmor’s We the Media is basically the Bible of the citizen journalism movement—one that predicted many of the exciting experiments we’re seeing today. Trenchant and compelling, it’s well worth a read.Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.