When did mass culture first appear in the United States? How was it conceived, produced and disseminated? Who were the main players in its manufacture? This volume argues that the birth of mass culture in the USA can be traced to the rise of high-circulation magazines at the turn of the 19th century. It focuses on four leaders in the "magazine revolution" of the 1890s - "Cosmopolitan", the "Ladies Home Journal", "McClure's" and "Munsey's". This study argues that the pivotal juncture came at the turn of the 20th century, when magazines began to reach large audiences and to depend heavily on advertising revenues. Mass circulation of magazines, combined with the rise of brand name products, facilitated the emergence of a homogenized mass culture (one produced by the few for the many in the name of profit) for the first time. This epochal change in the making of culture took place through the energy and innovations of diverse agents - publishers, readers, ad men, merchandisers - acting to achieve disparate, but compatible goals.
This book shows how their efforts succeeded because they answered to the needs of big business at a time when industrial capitalism's greatest achievements had led to its deepest crisis. Knitting together social and economic history, with literary criticism and cultural theory, Ohmann develops a new account of consumer society and the social class in which it first took root. Richard Ohmann is the author of "Shaw: The Style and the Man", "English in America: A Radical View of the Profession" and "Politics of Letters".
Publisher: Verso Books
Number of pages: 424
Weight: 810 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 30 mm
"Richard Ohmann is an author of rare talents: a theoretically sophisticated critic who never lets theory overpower historical evidence, never loses his eye for the sparkling anecdote or the revealing detail. Selling Culture
is a gem of a book."--Jackson Lears, author of Fables of Abundance: A Cultural History of Advertising in America
"Richard Ohmann's excursions into the realms of American advertising and mass journalism are cultural studies at its best."--Patrick Brantlinger