Fredric Wertham and the Critique of Mass Culture
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: University Press of Mississippi
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In undertaking a lengthy project such as this one, the research inevitably will at times be driven by unforeseen circumstances and odd coincidences. Case in point: Fredric Wertham’s final book was his 1973 study of comic book and science fiction fandom...
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A ghostlike figure haunts the history of postwar debates on American popular culture. That ghost is Fredric Wertham, a German-born psychiatrist and once well-known and widely-respected expert in the areas of psychiatry, criminality, juvenile delinquency, and civil rights. For more than half a century, from...
CHAPTER ONE: FROM FREUD TO SOCIAL PSYCHIATRY
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Fredric Wertham opened a January 1953 article in the Saturday Review by observing, “At present this nation has more psychoanalysts—and incidentally more murders and more comic books—than any other two or three nations combined...
CHAPTER TWO: MASS CULTURE IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
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To understand the specific ways in which Seduction of the Innocent intersected with the dominant media-effects paradigm in the midcentury United States, it is necessary first to come to terms with the intellectual climate of the time. Twentieth-century analyses of U.S. culture...
CHAPTER THREE: AMERICAN CONCERNS ABOUT A MASS SOCIETY
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The increasingly important but constantly changing status of the American intellectual in the postwar period was highlighted by the cover of Time’s 11 June 1956 issue, which carried a photo of Jacques Barzun captioned, “America and the Intellectual: The Reconciliation.” Fredric Wertham’s papers at the Library of Congress...
CHAPTER FOUR: WERTHAM AND THE CRITIQUE OF COMIC BOOKS
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By 1957, Fredric Wertham’s critique of comic books was well enough known that he was the specific target of Mad, a legendary American satire magazine. In his office, Wertham kept a framed copy of a mock article, “Baseball Is Ruining Our Children,” that appeared under the byline Frederick Werthless, M.D...
CHAPTER FIVE: TELEVISION AND MEDIA EFFECTS
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In his introduction to the 1949 edition of Joseph Klapper’s influential study, The Effects of Mass Communication , Paul Lazarsfeld speculated about why the study of media effects was not yet a well-established academic specialization. For Lazarsfeld, the problem with the study of media effects was...
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By the time of Wertham’s death in 1982, his position within the burgeoning field of mass media studies was by no means secure. Indeed, his exit from the field can be traced through the codification of the research in some early textbooks. Shearon Lowery and Melvin...
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Publication Year: 2005