In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Lineage and Geneaology in the Scholarship of Erik Barnouw
  • Dean Duncan (bio)


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Figure 1.

Cover to Media Marathon. Durham: Duke University Press, 1996.

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Figure 2.

Cover to Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film. Revised edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.

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Figure 3.

Cover to Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television. New York: Oxford University Press, 1975.

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Figure 4.

Cover to Indian Film. Second edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.

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Figure 5.

Cover to The Magician and the Cinema. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.

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Figure 6.

Cover to Conglomerates and the Media. New York: New Press, 1997.

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Figure 7.

Cover to The Sponsor: Notes on a Modern Potentate. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.

The All-Music Guides, a series of music recording references that have gained popularity in recent years, have developed an interesting and valuable aid to understanding musical idioms, and to situating the listener in relationship to these idioms. The books are interspersed with music maps, diagrams that plot the founders and followers of a particular style. 1 These maps are not exhaustive and they are not annotated, but they do give beginners a frame of reference, allowing them to take what they know and begin to link it with what they don’t. As for those things (artists, recordings, roots, branches) yet undiscovered, they motivate the study and application that should follow first contacts. And when first contacts are indeed followed up, the neophyte enters into experience, and into a sense of history, continuity, and connection.

The relevance of the All-Music Guides to the present study is two-fold. The first area regards the apparent poles of survey and specialization in academic study, teaching, and learning. Though there are sometimes tensions between the needs and nature of the general and the specific, I believe that the relationship need not be adversarial. If we see general inquiries and more specific investigations as two stages of the same process, then we can more generously reconcile the positions of those who enter all the way in, and those who only take—or have—the time to look on appreciatively from the threshold. [End Page 11]

Erik Barnouw is an ideal example of and site for such a reconciliation. Throughout his career he has elegantly considered both forests and trees, and is uniquely able to speak to botanists and bouquet-pickers alike. Barnouw’s distinction in general and in specialized areas points to the second way that music maps inform this article. He is notable not only for what he writes, but in his attitude towards what he writes.

A music map is of course simply an adaptation of the genealogist’s four generation sheet, a standard diagram which allows the family researcher to plot himself or herself in relation to his or her ancestors and descendants. Although these lineages are necessarily general, other documents invite the researcher to fill in details of birth, death, marriage, and occupation. In fact, personal stake makes this invitation a mandate, and furthermore suggests something more than just the pulls of the general and the specific.

Once again, Erik Barnouw exemplifies the something more, which lies in the area of sensibility. A genealogist, especially an amateur (note etymology), works for the love of it. Since the maps he compiles end with himself, he is inclined to be gentle in judgment, and grateful for whatever has gone before, complications and shortfalls notwithstanding. This should not lead to sloppiness or indulgence, but it does mean that a good genealogist, working for himself, is both thorough and merciful. Erik Barnouw is a good genealogist.

In this essay I wish to consider the place of lineage in the writing and receiving of history, and particularly in Barnouw’s work. Professional genealogies—the disciplinary generations preceding his own work—have led him to certain areas of emphasis. Personal backgrounds have informed his...

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