Channels of Desire

Channels of Desire: Mass Images and the Shaping of American Consciousness

Stuart Ewen
Elizabeth Ewen
Copyright Date: 1992
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.cttttwm4
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  • Book Info
    Channels of Desire
    Book Description:

    The classic revised and updated.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8354-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface to the New Edition
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Stuart Ewen and Elizabeth Ewen
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Prologue: In the Shadow of the Image
    (pp. xv-xxii)

    Maria Aguilar was born twenty-seven years ago near Mayagüez, on the island of Puerto Rico. Her family had lived off the land for generations. Today she sits in a rattling IRT subway car, speeding through the iron-and-rock guts of Manhattan. She sits on the train, her ears dazed by the loud outcry of wheels against tracks. Surrounded by a galaxy of unknown fellow strangers, she looks up at a long strip of colorful signboards placed high above the bobbing heads of the others. All the posters call for her attention.

    Looking down at her, a blonde-haired lady cabdriver leans out...

  6. 1 The Bribe of Frankenstein
    (pp. 1-22)

    To human consciousness, the epoch of the machine is one of hope and horror, ambiguous and confusing. While at one moment technology is equated with progress and the promise of a world of plenty, free from toil, in the next it evokes the vision of a world gone mad, out of control, the vision of Frankenstein.

    In Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s tale, on the verge of creating his terrible offspring, Victor Frankenstein sees only its Utopian potential. Pondering his ability to replace kinship with science in the creation of life, the doctor proclaims:

    So much has been done . . ....

  7. 2 Consumption as a Way of Life
    (pp. 23-52)

    The scene opens: A pair of hands interlocking the pieces of a three-dimensional wooden “Chinese” puzzle. As the puzzle is solved, a softly modulated man’s voice explains that most “industrial problems” or “business problems” are actually “communications problems.”

    Businessmen and industrialists, take note! An effective, welldesigned, integrated system ofcommunicatingis the key to a smoothly running enterprise.

    At last the disembodied hands complete their task. The puzzle is complete. Behold! It has formed the logo of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, the largest corporation on earth.

    Now the screen goes black, and a white-lettered message crosses it, proclaiming:...

  8. 3 City Lights: Immigrant Women and the Rise of the Movies
    (pp. 53-74)

    From 1890 to 1920, over twenty-three million people from eastern Europe and southern Italy came to the United States and settled in primarily urban centers. Though they were to labor in and populate a maturing industrial society, they emerged from semi-industrial peasant and artisan backgrounds where the social institutions of family and community organized and maintained a customary culture. For these people, the migration represented an unraveling of the fabric of their lives, felt most deeply in the home and the family, the customary realm of women. The new urban world undercut the basis of traditional womanhood, forcing women to...

  9. 4 Fashion and Democracy
    (pp. 75-188)

    July 14, 1980. Bastille Day. On Broadway, at Seventy-second, a bus rattles to its stop. Above, a blur of color—bright red, orange, shocking saffron, lavender blue, marine, livid, purplescent, raven—invades the corridor of vision. Looking up, we see a poster ad that, running along the entire roof of the bus, offers an outrageous display: an assembly line of female backsides, pressed emphatically into their designer jeans. On the right hip pocket of each, the signature of an heiress.

    We see the figures from waist to midthigh, yet weknowthey are women. We have seen it before. These...

  10. 5 Shadows on the Wall
    (pp. 189-220)

    The tension between the “real” world, and the ways people perceive it has been a problem that has confounded Western culture since antiquity. This question stands at the heart of Plato’s often-cited “parable of the cave,” which appears inThe Republic.In the parable, Plato describes human life as if it were lived “in a sort of underground den.” Inside the den, people’s eyes are averted from the mouth of the cave, turned toward its innermost wall. Their perception of the world outside is perpetually indirect, limited to the shadows that play upon the wall. Though only a mediation of...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 221-236)
  12. Index
    (pp. 237-247)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 248-248)