Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
This is a strange book; one expects an academic monograph to be dispassionate, unbiased and grounded in the literature – the author has scored one out of three in this regard. It is an angry work – the author's bias against university administration is obvious – yet at the same time there is ample evidence of meticulous research in the number of citations and footnotes.
Brabazon begins in positive mode, singing the praises of university teaching, yet very quickly descends into a litany of despair. She seems to be angry at:
her students for not presenting themselves as fully‐fledged, critically literate researchers;
the administrators for the way in which they allocate their budgets; and
the business sector for exploiting students' knowledge.
Two‐thirds of the way through the text, and contradicting the eye‐catching title, she asserts that, “the problem is not Google” and proceeds to explain in a more positive manner that the real problem is to teach students critical literacy, or in other words to become critically literate learners. The mere fact that students need a certain level of maturity and experience to even understand the need for critical literacy does not seem to be considered at this stage. This would have been the point at which to introduce the requirement for a research methods module aimed at entry‐level students, but this is not mentioned until page 210, when the author reveals that, “In my first year courses, while teaching culture and media studies, I now teach this diverse model of literacy directly to students”.
The thread running through this book is the identification of, and justification for, teaching critical literacy to university entry‐level university students; few academics or librarians would argue against this. The reason for the anger pervading the first two‐thirds of the book becomes evident in the conclusion, which should be read first in order to put the rest of the work in perspective.
It is difficult to follow the text because the sheer number of citations and footnotes distract the reader. In some cases, the footnotes take up more space than the text; it would have been better to put these all at the end of each chapter.
Perhaps, new university students contemplating media studies as a soft option should read this book. Otherwise it would seem to have a very limited appeal.