Titanic Century

Media, Myth, and the Making of a Cultural Icon

by Paul Heyer


A century after it occurred, the sinking of the Titanic remains firmly entrenched in our popular culture as a tragedy of “mythic” proportions. When it occurred in 1912, it was called "The Story of the Century." As the events of 2012 attest, that legacy now spans two centuries.

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Cover image for <i>Titanic</i> Century

April 2012


Pages 211
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics American History/Science and Technology

This book presents a revealing look at our 100-year fascination with the Titanic disaster and the various media that have been involved in reporting, preserving, and immortalizing the event.

The Titanic's fate is still very much in our collective consciousness. A catastrophe that was unimaginable at the time, now 100 years later it continues to provide lessons that we have not yet fully absorbed. And the debate continues regarding how the loss of life might have been averted—could, for example, the nearby ship, Californian, have rescued everyone on board Titanic?

The book examines the relationship between a momentous historical event, the media that have been involved in reporting and re-presenting it, and the subsequent transformation of the disaster into an enduring myth in contemporary popular culture. The book will also show how the sinking of the Titanic helped make Guglielmo Marconi a household name; set David Sarnoff on the path that led to his becoming head of RCA; raised the stature of The New York Times to the eminence it has today; and helped give film director James Cameron his current notoriety and influence.


  • Illustrated with photographs, a painting, and a movie poster
  • A comprehensive bibliography organized according to each of the three parts of the book
  • A comprehensive index of subjects and names
  • Appendices of several songs and poems pertaining to the Titanic


  • Examines why we have been fascinated by the Titanic for over 100 years
  • Considers the role of the media in the tragedy, and the effects of that coverage and representation of the event on those self same media
  • Compares the tragic fate of the Titanic to more recent disasters
Author Info

Paul Heyer is professor of communication studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. His published works include Communications and History; The Medium and the Magician: Orson Welles-the Radio Years; and a coedited textbook, Communication in History: Technology, Culture, Society.

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