Adorno in America by David Jenemann

By David Jenemann

The German thinker and cultural critic Theodor W. Adorno was once one of many towering highbrow figures of the 20th century, and among 1938 and 1953 he lived in exile within the usa. within the first in-depth account of this era of Adorno’s lifestyles, David Jenemann examines Adorno’s disagreement with the burgeoning American “culture industry” and casts new mild on Adorno’s writings in regards to the mass media. opposite to the commonly held belief—even between his defenders—that Adorno used to be disconnected from the US and disdained its tradition, Jenemann finds that Adorno was once an lively and engaged player in cultural and highbrow lifestyles in the course of those years.

From the time he first arrived in manhattan in 1938 to paintings for the Princeton Radio learn undertaking, exploring the influence of radio on American society and the maturing advertising options of the nationwide radio networks, Adorno was once devoted to knowing the technological and social effect of well known artwork within the usa. Adorno carried those pursuits with him to Hollywood, the place he and Max Horkheimer tried to make a movie for his or her experiences in Prejudice venture and the place he befriended Thomas Mann and helped him craft his well-known novel health professional Faustus. Shuttling among insightful readings of Adorno’s theories and a wealthy physique of archival materials—including unpublished writings and FBI files—Jenemann paints a portrait of Adorno’s years in long island and l. a. and tells the cultural background of an the US coming to grips with its quickly evolving mass culture.

“For these susceptible to push aside Adorno’s tackle the US because the uncomprehending condescension of a mandarin elitist, David Jenemann’s greatest new e-book will come as a impolite awakening. Exploiting a wealth of latest resources, he persuasively indicates the intensity of Adorno’s engagement with the tradition and the complexity of his response to it.” —Martin Jay, Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of heritage, collage of California, Berkeley

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If the embrace of market research by intellectuals could be associated with one Wgure, it would have to be Lazarsfeld. 7 In America, he founded the Bureau of Applied Social Research, which operated out of Newark, New Jersey, and, eventually, Columbia University. By virtue of his relationship with CBS’s Frank Stanton, as well as through a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, Lazarsfeld was ultimately offered the directorship of the PRRP and Columbia’s OfWce of Radio Research. It was in that capacity that he came into direct contact with Adorno.

When put in the hands of radio networks, movie studios, and television stations, this type of research lends itself to the dehumanization of audiences and the reduction of artworks to their streamlined, surface elements. The examination of the rise of administrative research provides the springboard for the following three chapters, which take as case studies those forms of aesthetic transmission that Adorno felt “above all” constituted the Americanization of the arts in the wake of fascism: radio, motion pictures, and literature.

Adorno’s treatment of the type of studies being done by those scholars engaged in what Lazarsfeld called “administrative research” is often unselfreXexively harsh, especially given Adorno’s subsequent efforts to use empirical methods, albeit dialectically. But “Procrustes,” however caustic, has a certain prophetic value. In the years since the aphorism was edited out of Minima Moralia, many of the trends Adorno identiWed have become commonplace methodologies, just as the relationship between the arts, the academy, and private interests have become increasingly intertwined.

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