Further Readings on Sexism, Racism and Advertising

The following are interesting and important resources for exploring further the history and types of critical analyses of the meanings, social roles and impacts of pervasive advertising media. I chose these for their accessibility on-line. Of course, there's much more out there. Enjoy and Think Critically!

  • Brand Hype
    New website exploring product placement in movies created by Matt Soar, professor of Communications at Concordia University. Soar also produced and directed the Media Education Foundation's documentary Behind the Screens: Hollywood Goes Hypercommercial (2000, in Reed lib.). Includes searchable database on products placed in movies ("Movie Mapper"), articles, discussion forum.

  • John Harms and Douglas Kellner. Toward A Critical Theory of Advertising. Illuminations, Critical Theory Website
    This article provides an excellent overview of the theoretical roots of critical media studies in the U.S. and Europe. Website is the brainchild of Douglas Brown and Douglas Kellner, provides on-line introduction to Frankfurt school-inspired critical theory. Full text on-line.

  • Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception," Dialectic of Enlightenment. 1969[1947].
    Frankfurt School theorists attempted to integrate various aspects of the thought of Marx, Nietzsche, Weber, Freud and Heidegger into the project of formulating a critical theory of society. This chapter is a much-cited polemic about the dire effects of a massive new cultural/media system epitomized in the film, radio and magazine industries at the time.

  • Sut Jhally vs. James Twitchell on the Impact of Advertising
    These two men are among the most prominent opposing voices in current debates about the social impacts of advertising. This online debate was facilitated by Stay Free Magazine.

  • Sut Jhally. Advertising at the Edge of the Apocalypse
    Sut Jhally is professor of Communications at the University of Massachusettes-Amherst where he founded the Media Education Foundation. He is one of the most outspoken, marxist-informed critics of the social impacts of advertising. This article is on his personal website full-text.

  • The Emergence of Advertising in America, 1850-1920
    Check out how sexist and racist themes have evolved over time! Library of Congress' American Memory Digital collections. On-line exhibit of over 9,000 images from the collections of the Hartman Center at Duke University relating to the early history of advertising in the United States. Do a keyword search for "women" or "men", "african" or "negro", "asian" or "mexican", etc.

  • Lisa Hoffman. Gender and the Internet: Sex, Sexism and Sexuality.
    A brief, useful introduction to recent research in this burgeoning field.

  • Semiotics, Advertising, and Media
    a hypertext essay and tutorial on using semiotic techniques to analyze advertising, media, and contemporary culture. It is still under construction. It was created by Tom Streeter, for his students in Survey of Mass Media at the University of Vermont.

  • This is Not Sex
    A Web Essay on the Male Gaze, Fashion Advertising, and the Pose
    by Thomas Streeter, Nicole Hintlian, Samantha Chipetz, and Susanna Callender. Part of the Semiotics, Advertising and Media website at the University of Vermont. Fascinating look at the gendered and sexualized semiotics of advertising images in historical perspective, with reference to Erving Goffman, Laura Mulvey.

  • Student Web Analyses of Advertising's Social Impacts
    Lewis and Clark College's Sociology and Anthropolgy Dept. runs a course on American Advertising and the Science of Signs. Students have produced excellent websites including analyses of Women's Sports Ads, Absolut Vodka, Ethnic others, and Children as Signifiers. A great role model for responding critically to damaging ad messages.

Consider Possibilities for Activism

Look into Media Activist Organizations

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Copyright ©2002 Reed College and Charlene Makley.