Titles of academic works strongly influence how a discipline sees itself and how people position themselves within a discipline.
A title is very short, and must be comprehensible to its target audience, not just descriptive of a work’s intellectual content. Titles implicitly answer the question “Why is this worth reading?” by naming topics and categories that are considered to be of value.
Titles communicate the values not just of the writers, but of the audience they target or invoke. The rhetoric of academic titles in a discipline announces the values of that discipline and how it structures and categorizes its subject matter.
The rhetorical pattern
I have observed that contemporary scholars in Communications and New Media studies, when defining areas of study, often use “medium” as a high-level filter, along with an issue and/or a specific people group of communicators or recipients of communication. This may seem obvious and insignificant to many people, but its implications are worthy of examination.
For example, when asked “What are you studying?” a scholar of communication or new media would likely answer with this recipe:
“I’m studying [communication about issue X] and/or [communication by/for people in Y category] within [medium (or media) Z].