Politics of Letters

Richard M. Ohmann, Author Wesleyan University Press $50 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8195-5175-7
These essays by a Marxist critic who teaches English at Wesleyan range widely over mass culture. Advertising, to Ohmann, is an endless monologue extolling consumption and social climbing, while ads reinforce the domination of American life by corporations. One penetrating essay links the growth of popular magazines to their support from the advertising industry. Another iconoclastic piece argues that the computer has become a tool to control and ""de-skill'' workers, its liberating potential largely subverted by corporate agendas. Ohmann persuasively reads Salinger's Catcher in the Rye as a critique of class privilege, of culture as a badge of superiority. He examines the way TV trivializes political elections; looks at schools as conveyor-belts utilized to train a docile workforce; criticizes textbooks for subliminally discouraging students' inquisitiveness; and describes how writing classes could be restructured to encourage pupils to listen and think. (July 15)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1987
Release date: 06/01/1987
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-8195-6213-5
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