Joe MoranArmchair Nation: An Intimate History of Britain in Front of the TV

Profile Books, 2013

by Tal Zalmanovich on July 30, 2014

Joe Moran

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[Cross-posted from New Books in European Studies] The social and cultural historian Joe Moran, Professor of English and Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University, UK is interested in the everyday moments between great events. In his books Queuing for Beginners: The Story of Daily Life from Breakfast to Bedtime, On Roads: A Hidden History and now Armchair Nation: An Intimate History of Britain in Front of the TV (Profile Books, 2013) he documents the mundane activities that make up our lives.

In Armchair Nation Moran surveys the history of television watching in Britain from the technology’s first demonstration in a department store in 1925 and up to today. Moran’s engaging narrative progresses through major milestones in the medium’s history. To document how watching television had become a daily habit for a multitude of individuals, Moran uses an assortment of sources such as newspaper reviews, listings and interviews, diaries, and Mass Observation entries. While Moran hesitates to treat the consumption of television as an act of community building, he does frame it as a communal and meaningful act that binds millions together.  Therefore, for Moran, the analysis of television consumption is also a meditation about the characteristics and challenges of collective memory.

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