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Wilbur Schramm

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Wilbur Lang Schramm (August 5, 1907 – December 27, 1987) is sometimes called the "father of communication studies," and had a great influence on the development of communication research in the United States, and the establishing of departments of communication studies in US universities.

Schramm was born in Marietta, Ohio.


After working for the Associated Press, he received an MA in American civilization at Harvard University and a Ph.D. in English at the University of Iowa, where he eventually founded the creative writing workshop. His own stories resulted in his award of the O. Henry Prize for fiction in 1942. His interests extended beyond the humanistic tradition, and some of his early work examined the economic conditions surrounding the publication of Chaucer's tales, and audience reactions to poetry written in different meters. During the Second World War, Schramm joined the Office of War Information to investigate the nature of propaganda, and during this time and after employed largely behaviorist methodologies.

He founded the Institute for Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the communications program at Stanford University. He was former director of the East-West Communication Institute at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. Schramm was especially influential for his 1964 book Mass Media and National Development which was published in conjunction with UNESCO, which effectively began research into the link between the spread of communication technology and socio-economic development.

References Edit

Chaffee, S. H. (1988). In Memoriam: Wilbur Schramm, 1907-1987. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 52(3), 372-373.
Rogers, E. M. (1994). A history of communication study: A biographical approach. New York: Free Press.
Schramm, W. (Ed.). (1960). Mass communications (2nd ed.). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.
Schramm, W. (1963). The science of human communication. New York: Basic Books.
Schramm, W. (1964). Mass media and national development. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Schramm, W. (1997). The beginnings of communication study in America: A personal memoir. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Schramm, W., & Roberts, D. F. (Eds.). (1971). The process and effects of mass communication (Rev. ed.). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.
Singhal, A. (1987). Wilbur Schramm: Portrait of a development communication pioneer. Communicator: Journal of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, 22(1-4), 18-22.

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