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Adorno in America

Adorno in America

DAVID JENEMANN
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 280
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttv8nh
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    Adorno in America
    Book Description:

    In the first in-depth account of this period of Adorno's years in American exile, David Jenemann examines Adorno's confrontation with the burgeoning American “culture industry” and casts new light on Adorno's writings about the mass media. What emerges is not only an image of an intellectual in exile, but a rediscovery of Adorno as a potent defender of a vital democracy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5419-2
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION: DREAMS IN AMERICA (pp. xi-xxxvi)

    As Martin Jay wrote, now more than two decades ago, “The exemplary anecdotes are known to us all”:

    [Theodor] Adorno arrives in America in 1938 to work on Paul Lazarsfeld’s Princeton Radio Research Project. . . . A decade later, theInstitut für Sozialforschungis invited back to Frankfurt, and Adorno, with no hesitation, joins Max Horkheimer and Friedrich Pollock in its reconstruction. . . . he leaves his exile home for good in 1953 and never looks back.¹

    The years since those lines were written have done little to alter those anecdotes or their inevitable outcome; the narrative of...

  5. 1 THE MONSTER UNDER THE STONE: ADORNO AND THE RISE OF ADMINISTRATIVE RESEARCH (pp. 1-46)

    In Adorno’s original typescrilpt manuscript ofMinima Moralia, there is an aphorism, titled “Procrustes,” one of several subsequently excised from the final, published text of the book. In the aphorism, Adorno baldly and witheringly attacks “the sneering empiricist sabotage” that he fears is destined to take over the academy. Defending autonomous thought against its “throttling” by “book-keeping, administration, annual reports and balance sheets,” Adorno laments the collusion between scholarly sociological research and the corporate world. “The procedure of the official social sciences,” he continues, “is little more now than a parody of the businesses that keep such sciences afloat while...

  6. 2 ADORNO IN SPONSOR-LAND: AUTHORITY ON THE RADIO (pp. 47-104)

    Among Max Horkheimer’s papers, there is a draft of a curious letter composed in the summer of 1940. Written to Elizabeth Rend Mitchell, the wife of Charles E. Mitchell,¹ and asking for a donation of $1,500 to help Adorno complete work on one of his projects, the correspondence contains the following, somewhat droll paragraph:

    My friend, Dr. T. W. Adorno, a member of our Institute, besides his work for us, directed the Music Study of the Princeton Radio Research Project, Wnanced by the Rockefeller Foundation. He wrote great parts of his book “Current of Music,” devoted to a theoretical analysis...

  7. 3 BELOW THE SURFACE: FRANKFURT GOES TO HOLLYWOOD (pp. 105-148)

    InCity of Nets, Otto Friedrich’s exceptional snapshot of Hollywood in the 1940s, the author makes room for a brief mention of the Institute of Social Research. Suggesting that the “whole group” from the “Frankfurt Institute” came to Los Angeles at the invitation of Ernst Simmel, one of the founders of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute and Judy Garland’s sometime analyst, Friedrich goes on to claim:

    These Frankfurt exiles cherished the idea of synthesizing Marx and Freud in their critique of modern society, and although they never accomplished anything very substantial, they did their best to serve as an irritant even...

  8. 4 “IF THERE SHOULD BE A POSTERITY”: HIGH MODERNISM, HOROSCOPES, AND HEROIC SALESMEN (pp. 149-178)

    In the essay “The Absence of the Book,” ¹ Maurice Blanchot writes, “the book (the civilization of the book) declares: there is a memory that transmits things, there is a system that arranges things; time becomes entangled in the book, where the void still belongs to a structure.”¹ Blanchot’s statement is provocative and exciting, for it suggests that through books one can have access to—and more, experience—history. But wait, isn’t what Blanchot says somewhat obvious? Of course one reads history in books. And what he says would indeed be a simple truism were it not for Blanchot’s insistence...

  9. CODA: THEODOR ADORNO, AMERICAN (pp. 179-192)

    In 1938, an alien from a Jewish background landed in America. His name having been changed, and with his origins thus somewhat obscured, he nevertheless had talents that set him apart from others and marked him as exceptional, different. Still, as he went about his daily business in thick spectacles, many of his colleagues mistook his physical myopia for a deeper spiritual and intellectual one, and many more dismissed him as uptight and something of a wet blanket. When he did exercise his prodigious gifts, his actions tended to frighten his peers and did little to endear him to the...

  10. NOTES (pp. 193-222)
  11. WORKS CITED (pp. 223-234)
  12. INDEX (pp. 235-243)
  13. Back Matter (pp. 244-244)