Object Lessons

Published 2021, Bloomsbury

Now Available!

Weaving together personal memoir, social and political history, and reflecting on key moments in the history of news broadcasting and prime time entertainment, Susan Bordo opens up the 75-year-old time-capsule that is TV and illustrates what a constant companion and dominant cultural force television has been, for good and for bad, in carrying us from the McCarthy hearings and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet to Mad Men, Killing Eve, and the emergence of our first reality TV president.

Susan writes: “This book isn’t a memoir. But, like many of the books I admire (and in opposition to how I was taught to write when I was in graduate school,) I do bring myself, at various points, into the cultural/historical narrative. Here’s one of those personal reflections, which appears within my discussion of challenges—for example, by Mad Men—to the family mythologies of the 1950’s.”

TV is part of Object Lessons, a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.

In this lively and engaging analysis of what television has done for us and to us, the feminist cultural critic Susan Bordo takes us from Father Knows Best and Walter Cronkite to OJ, Mad Men, Fox News, and much more. She shows how TV has shaped our politics and our purchases, our minds and our bodies, our definition of truth and our concept of reality. `We live in an empire of images,’ Bordo writes-one could not wish for a more knowledgeable and entertaining guide.
Katha Pollitt, poet, essayist, and The Nation columnist, Her most recent book is Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights
Susan Bordo is old enough to remember when television was a thing-a set, a box, an electric window on a made-up world-and she pays wise, charming, and personal tribute to its meaning for a generation and a culture raised in its blue light. And that's the way it was.
Jeff Jarvis, TV critic for People and TV Guide and founding editor of Entertainment Weekly