In the early twentieth century, the most numerous and well-funded institutions in the United States—corporations—used public relations to make widespread and fundamental changes in the way they constitute and regulate their relations of knowledge with the public. Today, we can see this change reflected in a variety of areas such as journalism, political outreach, social media, and in the claims that we live in "post-truth" society. This article traces practices of corporate truth-telling and knowledge production across three periods I call the personal, the legal, and public relations, which are roughly coincident with the antebellum period, the Gilded Age, and the twentieth century, respectively. In sum, what can be found in corporate propaganda and now broadly across society, is that relations of knowledge have come to be refigured primarily as relations of power, subordinating traditional epistemological concerns like justification and belief in favor of government and control.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 130-146
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.