By David Jenemann
The German thinker and cultural critic Theodor W. Adorno was once one of many towering highbrow figures of the 20 th 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 existence, David Jenemann examines Adorno’s war of words 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 was once disconnected from the United States and disdained its tradition, Jenemann unearths 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 ny in 1938 to paintings for the Princeton Radio learn undertaking, exploring the influence of radio on American society and the maturing advertising suggestions of the nationwide radio networks, Adorno was once devoted to figuring out the technological and social impact of well known paintings 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 undertaking 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 Shuttling among insightful readings of Adorno’s theories and a wealthy physique of archival materials—including unpublished writings and FBI files—Jenemann paints a portrait of Adorno’s years in ny and l. a. and tells the cultural heritage of an the USA coming to grips with its swiftly evolving mass culture.
“For these vulnerable to push aside Adorno’s tackle the United States because the uncomprehending condescension of a mandarin elitist, David Jenemann’s ideal new ebook will come as a impolite awakening. Exploiting a wealth of recent resources, he persuasively exhibits the intensity of Adorno’s engagement with the tradition and the complexity of his response to it.” —Martin Jay, Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of background, college of California, Berkeley
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Additional resources for Adorno in America
An aesthetic theory cannot and should not blame the victim for the sins of the system of production and consumption, as certain strains of empirical research do, by focusing on what people buy without questioning the system that makes that purchase possible. Instead, Adorno explains, theory must examine the entire network of constraints and expectations that form and re-form the individual within society. A thoroughgoing theory of art would take into account not only culture’s consumers but also its producers and—perhaps especially—an artwork’s means of distribution.
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. It is worthwhile, therefore, to revisit the relationship between, on the one hand, Adorno and the Institute of Social Research and, on the one other, Lazarsfeld and the Bureau of Applied Social Research and to consider the social history of audience research.
My only defenses for this tactic are that I tend to prefer legibility to pyrotechnic displays of erudition, and that giving every writer who has expressed an opinion on Adorno his or her due would mean a much longer, more cumbersome book. This text is meant to be a social history in which Adorno is the main but by no means the only character, and what follows attempts to reevaluate the exile years as something paradoxically like a proper home for Adorno. If I fail in that task, I have no defense at all.
Adorno in America by David Jenemann