Bread and Circuses

Bread and Circuses

Theories of Mass Culture As Social Decay

Lively and well written, Bread and Circuses analyzes theories that have treated mass culture as either a symptom or a cause of social decadence. Discussing many of the most influential and representative theories of mass culture, it ranges widely from Greek and Roman origins, through Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Ortega y Gasset, T. S. Eliot, and the theorists of the Frankfurt Institute, down to Marshall McLuhan and Daniel Bell, Brantlinger considers the many versions of negative classicism and shows how the belief in the historical inevitability of social decay—a belief today perpetuated by the mass media themselves—has become the dominant view of mass culture in our time. While not defending mass culture in its present form, Brantlinger argues that the view of culture implicit in negative classicism obscures the question of how the media can best be used to help achieve freedom and enlightenment on a truly democratic basis.

Patrick Brantlinger

Patrick Brantlinger is James Rudy Professor of English (Emeritus) at Indiana University. He is the author of many books, including Dark Vanishings, Fictions of State, Rule of Darkness, and Bread and Circuses, all from Cornell. 



Taming Cannibals
Race and the Victorians
Patrick Brantlinger
Brantlinger unravels contradictions embedded in the racist and imperialist ideology of the British Empire.



Dark Vanishings
Discourse on the Extinction of Primitive Races, 1800–1930
Patrick Brantlinger
Brantlinger here examines the commonly held 19th-century view that all "primitive" races around the world were doomed sooner or later to extinction.



Fictions of State
Culture and Credit in Britain, 1694–1994
Patrick Brantlinger



Rule of Darkness
British Literature and Imperialism, 1830–1914
Patrick Brantlinger
A major contribution to the cultural and literary history of the Victorian age, this book maps the complex relationship between Victorian literary forms, genres, and theories and imperialist, racist ideology.