Neil Postman 1931-2003

Neil Postman Biographical Entry.

Collected Obits / Reflections on Neil Postman's Passing

Books by Neil Postman

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
Introduction by Andrew Postman.

Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs—it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Death is a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining controlof our media, so that they can serve our highest goals.

Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology

In this witty, often terrifying work of cultural criticism, the author of Amusing Ourselves to Death chronicles our transformation into a Technopoly: a society that no longer merely uses technology as a support system but instead is shaped by it--with radical consequences for the meanings of politics, art, education, intelligence, and truth.

The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School

Postman suggests that the current crisis in our educational system derives from its failure to supply students with a translucent, unifying "narrative" like those that inspired earlier generations. Instead, today's schools promote the false "gods" of economic utility, consumerism, or ethnic separatism and resentment. What alternative strategies can we use to instill our children with a sense of global citizenship, healthy intellectual skepticism, respect of America's traditions, and appreciation of its diversity? In answering this question, The End of Education restores meaning and common sense to the arena in which they are most urgently needed.

The Disappearance of Childhood

From the vogue for nubile models to the explosion in the juvenile crime rate, this modern classic of social history and media traces the precipitous decline of childhood in America todayĆ¢ˆ’and the corresponding threat to the notion of adulthood.

Deftly marshaling a vast array of historical and demographic research, Neil Postman, author of Technopoly, suggests that childhood is a relatively recent invention, which came into being as the new medium of print imposed divisions between children and adults. But now these divisions are eroding under the barrage of television, which turns the adult secrets of sex and violence into poprular entertainment and pitches both news and advertising at the intellectual level of ten-year-olds.

Informative, alarming, and aphoristic, The Disappearance of Childhood is a triumph of history and prophecy.

Building a Bridge to the 18th Century: How the Past Can Improve Our Future

In Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, acclaimed cultural critic Neil Postman offers a cure for the hysteria and hazy values of the postmodern world.

Postman shows us how to reclaim that balance between mind and machine in a dazzling celebration of the accomplishments of the Enlightenment-from Jefferson's representative democracy to Locke's deductive reasoning to Rousseau's demand that the care and edification of children be considered an investment in our collective future. Here, too, is the bold assertion that Truth is invulnerable to fashion or the passing of time. Provocative and brilliantly argued, Building a Bridge to the 18th Century illuminates a navigable path through the Information Age-a byway whose signposts, it turns out, were there all along.

Conscientious Objections: Stirring Up Trouble About Language, Technology and Education

n a series of feisty and ultimately hopeful essays, one of America's sharpest social critics casts a shrewd eye over contemporary culture to reveal the worst -- and the best -- of our habits of discourse, tendencies in education, and obsessions with technological novelty. Readers will find themselves rethinking many of their bedrock assumptions: Should education transmit culture or defend us against it? Is technological innovation progress or a peculiarly American addiction? When everyone watches the same television programs -- and television producers don't discriminate between the audiences for Sesame Street and Dynasty -- is childhood anything more than a sentimental concept? Writing in the traditions of Orwell and H.L. Mencken, Neil Postman sends shock waves of wit and critical intelligence through the cultural wasteland.

Collected Articles About Neil Postman

Amazing Ourselves to Death: Neil Postman's Brave New World Revisited (A Critical Introduction to Media and Communication Theory)

Neil Postman’s most popular work, Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985), provided an insightful critique of the effects of television on public discourse in America, arguing that television’s bias towards entertaining content trivializes serious issues and undermines the basis of democratic culture. Lance Strate, who earned his doctorate under Neil Postman and is one of the leading media ecology scholars of our time, re-examines Postman’s arguments, updating his analysis and critique for the twenty-first-century media environment that includes the expansion of television programming via cable and satellite as well as the Internet, the web, social media, and mobile technologies.
Integrating Postman’s arguments about television with his critique of technology in general, Strate considers the current state of journalism, politics, religion, and education in American culture. Strate also contextualizes Amusing Ourselves to Death through an examination of Postman’s life and career and the field of media ecology that Postman introduced. This is a book about our prospects for the future, which can only be based on the ways in which we think and talk about the present.

Escape from the Trap of E-culture: A Study on Neil Postman's Media Theories, by Xioen Wu.

Neil Postman’s thought on Media Studies is targeted at the way of media and the trend of the whole social cultures. Drawing from the expression “the medium is the message”, coined by Marshall McLuhan, Dr. Postman developed his theory that "the medium is the metaphor", which holds that each medium dissimulates an undetected ideological bias or behavioral tendency that controls our understanding of the world, and shapes and creates our cognitive world.

Dr. Postman’s main concern was the electronic cultures and the critical thinking of epistemology. He looked at the booming electronic media in the post-print era with a serious and critical attitude and put a significant emphasis on the negative effects it has brought to social culture. He also asserted that “information has become a form of garbage” in the age of electronic media. From a humanistic point of view, Dr. Postman warned about the ideology tendency of electronic media technology. He urged the public to resist the authoritarian rule of technology with morality and fraternity. He stood against value neutrality, stressing morality in social research and regarding social research as a branch of moral philosophy. Confronted with the abuses in the age of electronic culture, he proposed that reform on education, with the preservation of the print culture as its aim, should be carried out to counter the electronic culture, so that equilibrium in social culture can be realized. The media theories of Dr. Postman are perceived from his profound knowledge of semantics and long-term research and practice in education, guided by the ideas of McLuhan, inspired by the childhood problem and his attention to the education reform in schools, developed with the research over televised viewing, brought to maturity with the critique of technopoly, and directed back to education research in the end.

This book dates back to the origin and development of Media Studies, and examines the people and thought which influenced academic thought and critical thinking, including Alfred Korzybski、Marshall McLuhan、Harold Innis、Lewis Mumford、Michel Foucault、Friedrich August Hayek、the Frankfurt School、Western Marxism、the Chicago school and so on. These figures and schools have laid a solid foundation for the study and media and serve as rich resources for the development of media studies.

Articles, Essays and Addresses by Neil Postman

Articles in ETC

Interviews with Neil Postman