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 war of words with the burgeoning American “culture industry” and casts new gentle on Adorno’s writings concerning the mass media. opposite to the generally held belief—even between his defenders—that Adorno was once disconnected from the USA and disdained its tradition, Jenemann finds that Adorno used to be an lively and engaged player in cultural and highbrow existence in the course of those years.

From the time he first arrived in big apple in 1938 to paintings for the Princeton Radio study venture, exploring the effect of radio on American society and the maturing advertising and marketing suggestions of the nationwide radio networks, Adorno was once devoted to knowing the technological and social effect 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 stories in Prejudice venture and the place he befriended Thomas Mann and helped him craft his well-known novel medical 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 Shuttling among insightful readings of Adorno’s theories and a wealthy physique of archival materials—including unpublished writings and FBI files—Jenemann paints a portrait of Adorno’s years in ny and la and tells the cultural historical past of an the US coming to grips with its quickly evolving mass culture.

“For these susceptible to brush aside Adorno’s tackle the United States because the uncomprehending condescension of a mandarin elitist, David Jenemann’s superb new publication will come as a impolite awakening. Exploiting a wealth of latest assets, 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, college of California, Berkeley

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But this shift from the Wrm to the faculty was tantamount to a Faustian bargain between the academy and private donors, whether they were corporate, philanthropic, or both. Forced to follow the lead—and the cash—of commercial interests, Lazarsfeld helped inaugurate the shift from knowledge as an end in itself to the instrumentalization of thought in the service of business. While there were certainly many private corporations dedicated to providing research to networks, studios, and publishers, increasingly during the period various elements of the academy transformed their disciplinary and methodological concerns to complement the entertainment industry’s desire to track down data and use that data to sell their audiences to advertisers.

22 In addition to whatever intellectual prestige the Institute was able to confer on Lazarsfeld at this time, Horkheimer was also providing Wnancial assistance while Lazarsfeld was still in New Jersey. ”23 Lazarsfeld, in his memoir, conWrms this account, making at the same time speciWc reference to the hoped-for collaboration of his own research methodology and critical theory: “I was aware of [the] controversial features of Adorno’s work, but was intrigued by his writings on the ‘contradictory’ role of music in our society.

S. 20 This study, Newman suggests, helped inaugurate a new era in the production and study of radio programming, and with the dawning of that era came a new, not altogether coherent community of radio experts: In the 1930s a new caste of professionals, “the audience intellectuals,” played a unique role in producing, appealing to, and studying audiences for radio broadcasting. They helped to shape the audiences for radio programs through advertising, marketing, program selection, and product distribution.

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