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John Fiske (born 1939) is a media scholar who has taught around the world. He was a Professor of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His areas of interest include cultural studies, popular culture, media semiotics and television studies. He is the author of eight books, including Power Plays, Power Works (1993), Understanding Popular Culture (1989), Reading the Popular (1989), and the influential Television Culture (1987). Fiske also acts as a media critic, examining how cultural meaning is created in American society, and how debates over issues such as race are handled in different media. In May 2008, Fiske received an Honorary Degree from the University of Antwerp.
Fiske was educated in Britain. After graduating from Cambridge University he taught throughout the world including Australia, New Zealand and the US. While living in Perth, Australia, during the 1980s and early 1990s, he was the general editor of Cultural Studies and taught at Western Australian Institute of Technology (which became known as Curtin University in 1986).
Fiske's 1987 textbook on television, Television Culture, introduces the subject of television studies by examining the economic and cultural issues and the theory and text-based criticism. It also gives an overview of the arguments by British, American, Australian and French scholars. It was "one of the first books about television to take seriously the feminist agenda that has been so important to the recent development of the field."
He is the author of books on television studies on popular culture and mass media. Fiske's books analyze television shows as "texts" to examine the different layers of meaning and sociocultural content. Fiske disagrees with the theory that mass audiences consume the products that are offered to them without thought. Fiske rejects the notion of "the audience" which assumes an uncritical mass. He instead suggests "audiences" with various social backgrounds and identities enabling them to receive texts differently.