Professor Discusses Reality Television

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio - Learn what it takes to stay on the island. The Wittenberg University Department of Communication is sponsoring a colloquium at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29, featuring Matthew J. Smith, assistant professor, as he discusses "Survivor Lessons: Critical Perspectives on Communication and Reality Television."

The title of his new book "Survivor Lessons: Essays on Communication and Reality Television:, which he edited with Andrew Wood of San Jose State University, will be the topic of the colloquium. Open to the public, the colloquium will be held in Bayley Auditorium in the Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center.

Smith will discuss his book, which contains a collection of scholarly essays examining reality television. "The first show,Survivor, inspired a national craze when it aired in the summer of 2000. Ever since, successors and copycats have been on each of the four largest networks," notes the back cover of the book, which is available on

Instead of criticizing reality television, Smith's book evaluates what goes on within the text of such shows and how they reflect or affect our larger culture. Researchers from many disciplines, including communications, sociology, political science and psychology contributed to the book. Topics include reality television's relationships with cultural identity, publicity rights, historical perspectives, trust, decision-making strategies, political rationality, office politics and primitivism.

The next season of CBS's Survivor is set to debut following the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 1.

Interviewed often about reality television and pop culture, Smith teaches courses in media studies, including television criticism and media literacy. 

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