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The HWS Update

Writing About Screen Media

The world of screen media has changed fundamentally in the past decades, with films, TV shows, and video games distributed in digital formats and social media and other new media engaging our attention. Associate Professor of Media and Society Lisa Patti’s new book, Writing About Screen Media, offers a comprehensive overview of how to write about many different screen media in a range of writing formats.

Patti points out that although there are books that discuss writing about film, she found few that focus on the broad variety of media that exist today. “I searched for a book that would guide students through the process of learning how to write about the many different media we study in the Media and Society program as well as the different kinds of writing our faculty ask students to produce – from blogs to podcasts to video essays,” she explains.

Writing About Screen Media aims to fill that void, with contributions from 41 media scholars, including Associate Professor of Media and Society Leah R. Shafer, who contributed a chapter on “The Short, Sweet Art of Blurb Writing.” In her summary of the chapter, Shafer explains that it “provides an introduction to the blurb as a purposive text that allows writers to curate, creatively cite, and appropriate the story and style of novels, films, video games, and other screen media for potential new consumers.” The book includes the work of another faculty member, Professor of Art and Architecture Nicholas Ruth, who created the print “Better than Ever” (2017) featured as the book’s cover.

Patti wrote a lengthy introduction that provides a critical framework for the book’s chapters and covers general principles of writing about media. “These include, for example, the importance of taking screening notes whether you are watching a film or reading a Twitter thread,” she says.

One of the unusual aspects of the book, notes Patti, is the audience for whom it is intended. “It is pitched to two audiences simultaneously — students who are learning to write about media for the first time and established scholars and critics who want to experiment with their writing.”

Patti will use the book, which is available at The College Store and Amazon, as one of the texts for her Media and Society classes this semester. “I’m looking forward to introducing students to the ideas that the contributors present,” she says. Patti also launched a companion website and blog for the book at https://www.writingaboutscreenmedia.net as a resource for students and teachers.

Patti, who joined the HWS community in 2011, earned her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from Cornell University. She is co-author (with Glyn Davis, Kay Dickinson and Amy Villarejo) of Film Studies: A Global Introduction (2015) and co-editor (with Tijana Mamula) of The Multilingual Screen: New Reflections on Cinema and Linguistic Difference (2016).