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On Becoming Neighbors

The Communication Ethics of Fred Rogers (Composition, Literacy, and Culture)

Alexandra Klaren


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Fred Rogers is an American cultural and media icon, whose children’s television program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, ran for more than thirty years (1967-2001) on the Public Broadcasting System. In this highly original book, communication scholar Alexandra C. Klarén shows how Rogers captured the moral, social, and emotional imaginations of multiple generations of Americans. She explores the nuanced complexity of the thought behind the man and the program, the dialogical integration of his various influences, and the intentional ethic of care behind the creation of a program that spoke to the affective, cultural, and educational needs of children (and adults) during a period of cultural and political upheaval. Richly informed by newly available archival materials, On Becoming Neighbors chronicles the evolution of Rogers’ thought on television, children, pedagogy, and the family through a rhetorical, cultural, and ethical lens. Klarén probes how Rogers creates the conditions for dialogue in which participants explore possibilities and questions relating to the social and material world.  

Praise For On Becoming Neighbors: The Communication Ethics of Fred Rogers (Composition, Literacy, and Culture)

“An excellent, insightful discussion of a key television text and touchstone of American children’s culture in the 20th Century. I have a very warm and loving feeling for Mr. Rogers from my own childhood of watching him on television, and this work deepened my appreciation of him and helped me see him in the full light of his Christian mission.”—Michael Newman, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

“Original and intriguing. This book will contribute to a very much understudied, yet historically important, children’s television program.”—Ellen Ann Wartella, Northwestern University

“For those seeking a deeper insight into the aims and methods of Mister Rogers, this text is well worth the effort.”
Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine

University of Pittsburgh Press, 9780822945901, 264pp.

Publication Date: October 29, 2019

About the Author

Alexandra C. Klarén is assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.