Catalogue


As seen on TV : the visual culture of everyday life in the 1950s /
Karal Ann Marling.
imprint
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1994.
description
328 p. : ill., map ; 25 cm.
ISBN
0674048822 (acid-free paper) :
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1994.
isbn
0674048822 (acid-free paper) :
general note
Includes index.
catalogue key
802931
 
Bibliography: p. [289]-318.
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Minnesota Book Awards, USA, 1995 : Won
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1994-09-05:
Historian Marling (Iwo Jima: Monuments and the American Hero) takes us back to those early days of television, when Ike was in the White House and everybody loved Lucy. The author explains TV's tremendous influence: it allowed Mrs. Eisenhower to give the nation the ``Mamie Look,'' and advertised both Disneyland and the big-business ``leisure society'' created by the 40-hour workweek. Marling also looks into America's love affair with the automobile (``Drive your Chev-ro-lay through the USA,'' sang Dinah Shore); the importance of Elvis and Betty Crocker; and Cold War politics, featuring Richard Nixon in the kitchen with Nikita Khrushchev. A nostalgic, informative and sometimes funny view of 1950's American culture. Photos. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 1995-02:
The seven chapters of this book are an examination of the change in aesthetic standards during the 1950s as reflected on television. Specifically, Marling (art history and American studies, Univ. of Minnesota) looks at the fashions of Mamie Eisenhower, painting by numbers, Disneyland, automobiles, Elvis Presley, foodways, and appliances demonstrated at the 1959 American Exhibition in Moscow. These topics were chosen because they represent the most celebrated instances during the 1950s when the principles of design captured the popular imagination. Marling's most original contributions are the chapters on painting by numbers and on foodways. Particularly interesting are the author's comments on how the look of food achieved major importance during the decade. Marling utilizes the major printed sources available on '50s television, but she also relies on her own memories of the era. She writes in a very accessible style that is largely devoid of academic jargon. In As Seen on TV, Marling has produced the best kind of scholarly work, namely one that will prove useful in a variety of fields, including pop culture, art history, material culture, and American studies. All levels. W. K. McNeil; The Ozark Folk Center
Reviews
Review Quotes
As Seen on TV offers fresh, imaginative readings of individual artifacts, particularly Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book and television commercials for automobiles. Moving Beyond text to context, chapters on the ongoing spectacle at Disneyland and the one-time-only "Kitchen Debate" between Nixon and Khruschev provide suggestive rereadings of familiar topics. [The book] becomes most interesting when imaginatively leaping from one set of cultural products or practices to another. It glides from Mamie Eisenhower's New Look to the 'Chemise' or 'sack dress'.. As Seen on TV draws on an extensive, eclectic array of sources: presidential archives, museum collections, business publications, scholarly accounts, popular histories, and even the responses of listeners to Professor Marling's appearances on radio talk shows
In this entertaining and informative book, Marling uses a variety of visual icons of the 1950s to depict the decade as an ocean of vibrant color, movement and style...[She] is one of this country's strongest advocates of the study of popular culture. She is also one of our most eloquent analysts of the meanings to be found in objects. Her book's multilayered, dizzying descriptions...plunge the reader into a culture drunk on color and form. They testify to the complex cultural significance with which Americans in the postwar years invested commonplace objects and images. They also blur the lines between aesthetics and sociology...Marling's full and convincing interpretations of the objects under discussion exhibit both humor and empathy.
[Marling] offers in seven chapters some witty riffs on 50s themes: the topics evoked in As Seen on TV are, in order, women's fashion, amateur painting, the arrival of Disneyland, those fabulous finned autos, the taming of Elvis Presley, home cooking and Richard Nixon's "kitchen debate" with Nikita Khrushchev...[It is] an intellectual romp, a dizzying free fall through the exuberant 'visual culture' of that first post-World War II decade.
This is a gorgeous confection of a book...As Seen on TV manages to plug directly into the more mundane fads and fashions of popular culture.
This is a gorgeous confection of a book... As Seen on TV manages to plug directly into the more mundane fads and fashions of popular culture.
Irresistible...Karal Ann Marling's enthusiasm is refreshing, entertaining and imaginative. Her energy is infectious...She manages to make the decade that time forgot come alive.
Karal Ann Marling's book is an invitation to celebrate the dawning of the world as television...[She] lovingly guides us through this landscape, the world of what design critic Thomas Hine called the "populuxe," glitz and glitter for the postwar masses...The whole period has found a sympathetic chronicler in Marling and her account of the influence of television on 1950s America makes for fascinating reading.
As Seen on TV combines high seriousness and just plain fun. It's a pleasure to read...Marling is as mercilessly convincing as she is witty and bright. Her stinging portrait of the 1950s easily extends beyond that much-satirized decade, enabling us to see its primitive reflection in today's popular culture and mass markets.
As Seen on TV offers fresh, imaginative readings of individual artifacts, particularly Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book and television commercials for automobiles. Moving Beyond text to context, chapters on the ongoing spectacle at Disneyland and the one-time-only "Kitchen Debate" between Nixon and Khruschev provide suggestive rereadings of familiar topics. [The book] becomes most interesting when imaginatively leaping from one set of cultural products or practices to another. It glides from Mamie Eisenhower's New Look to the 'Chemise' or 'sack dress'..As Seen on TV draws on an extensive, eclectic array of sources: presidential archives, museum collections, business publications, scholarly accounts, popular histories, and even the responses of listeners to Professor Marling's appearances on radio talk shows
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, July 1994
Publishers Weekly, September 1994
Choice, February 1995
Reference & Research Book News, June 1995
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
America in the 1950s: the world was not so much a stage as a setpiece for TV, the new national phenomenon. It was a time when how things looked--and how we looked--mattered, a decade of design that comes to vibrant life in As Seen on TV. From the painting-by-numbers fad to the public fascination with the First Lady's apparel to the television sensation of Elvis Presley to the sculptural refinement of the automobile, Marling explores what Americans saw and what they looked for with a gaze newly trained by TV. A study in style, in material culture, in art history at eye level, this book shows us as never before those artful everyday objects that stood for American life in the 1950s, as seen on TV.
Table of Contents
Prologue
Namie Eisenhower's New Look
Hyphenated Culture: Painting by Numbers in the New Age of Leisure
Disneyland, 1955: The Place That Was Also a TV Show
Autoeroticism: America's Love Affair with the Car in the Television Age
When Elvis Cut His Hair: The Meaning of Mobility
Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book: The Aesthetics of food in the 1950s
Nixon in Moscow: Appliances, Affluence, and Americanism
Afterword
Notes
Illustration Credits
Acknowledgments
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem