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Mass Culture Criticism and «Dissent»

An American Socialist Magazine


Prof. Lou Anne Bulik

Mass Culture Criticism and 'Dissent' by Lou Anne Bulik offers a provocative new look at the debate over mass culture in American magazines during the post World War II years. Bulik traces the influence of the Frankfurt School's analysis of mass culture on American intellectuals; explores the course of the mass culture discussion in Politics, Partisan Review, Daedalus, Diogenes, and Dissent; and suggests that Dissent's approach to the issue differed substantially from that of other magazines. Because Dissent focused on the impact of mass culture on the mind, Bulik suggests that the debate in Dissent was actually an attempt to articulate the presentiment that mass culture, particularly through the paradigm of television, would change patterns of thought and understanding. The study concludes with a look at recent criticism which lends newfound weight to Dissent's discussion of mass culture in the 1950s and early 1960s.