Student Review: Image and Representation: Key Concepts in Media Studies

September 17, 2009

Author: Nick Lacey

Edition: Second revised

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Pages: 304

Price: £20.99

ISBN: 9780230203358

At first this textbook seems to lack ambition. The first chapter reiterates those areas of media and communications studies that were already taught before students entered higher education. Further chapters offer some expansion but little intellectual stretching for those already familiar with the field.

The book's aim to introduce key concepts of image and representation is met, but it offers little more than the basics. The concepts included are introduced in a clear and concise manner, and the language is suitable for those first approaching the subject area. The prose is uncomplicated and does not seek to blind readers with overzealous theories or phrases with which they may not be familiar.

Annoyingly, the book is guilty of repetition and is diluted by Nick Lacey's personal comments, which are briefly entertaining but will undoubtedly become an unwanted distraction when searching for vital information. Unfortunately the cliched examples and "exercises" undermine the book and make it feel inadequate for degree-level study.

For more experienced students, the separation of the chapters allows the reader to move through those areas of basic knowledge at speed, and into more advanced work. There is no definitive focus for specific media forms; instead, the multitude of media flit in and out of chapters. Subtitles and segmentation of the chapters mean that the book is useful both as a full text to gain general media knowledge and as a later reference point for graduate study.

The strong point for Image and Representation is its extensive inclusion of key theorists and ideas. Although the book is specified for visual media, the knowledge attained will marinate other areas of study.

This text will appeal to undergraduate students approaching a media degree with little or no previous experience in the subject area. But for those who are already in the possession of a solid knowledge basis, it offers little in the way of expansion, but instead can act as a reference for refreshing theories, theorists and concepts.

Who is it for? Undergraduates who have not previously studied media and communication.

Presentation: Basic; littered with pictures, tables and diagrams.

Would you recommend it? Yes, as a general starting point or as a refresher text.

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