Front cover image for Fables of abundance : a cultural history of advertising in America

Fables of abundance : a cultural history of advertising in America

T. J. Jackson Lears (Author)
American advertisements have become perhaps the most pervasive social icons in the modern world. This book traces their rise against a richly varied backdrop. Its range encompasses literature, religion, and the visual arts, as well as economics, public policy, and the history of medicine. Its cast of characters includes a host of remarkable figures in or around advertising, from P.T. Barnum and Theodore Dreiser to John B. Watson and Joseph Cornell. The book explores the ways that advertising collaborated with other cultural institutions to produce what have become the dominant aspirations, anxieties, and even notions of personal identity in the twentieth-century United States. Moving from the carnivals and market fairs of Renaissance Europe to the traveling peddlers of nineteenth-century America, Jackson Lears shows how early advertisers encouraged a new kind of magical thinking, detached from religious traditions and geared to an emerging market society. While patent medicine advertising's promise of magical self-transformation and exotic sensuality posed challenges to moral standards, advertisers themselves eventually sought to contain the subversive potential of this promise even as they continued to conjure it up
eBook, English, 1994
Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group, New York, NY, 1994
1 online resource (492 pages) : illustrations
9780786723225, 078672322X
Part I. The reconfiguration of wealth: from fecund earth to efficient factory. 1. The lyric of plenty
2. The modernization of magic
3. The stabilization of sorcery
4. The disembodiment of abundance
Part II. The containment of carnival: advertising and American social values from the patent medicine era to the consolidation of corporate power. 5. The merger of intimacy and publicity
6. The perfectionist project
7. The new basis of civilization
8. Trauma, denial, recovery
Part III. Art, truth, and humbug: the search for form and meaning in a commodity civilization. 9. The problem of commercial art in a protestant culture
10. The courtship of avant-garde and kitsch
11. The pursuit of the real
12. The things themselves