Date of Award

6-9-2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Calvin Thomas, Ph.D. - Chair

Second Advisor

Nancy Chase, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Christopher Kocela, Ph.D.

Abstract

The role of advertising in postmodern culture is far more than an impetus to capitalist economy; from its first full flowering in the 1920s, it has addressed its human subjects in ways that exceed considerations of monetary exchange. Advertising has come not only to sell people what they desire – it has also materially changed their desire, and thus the people themselves in the process. Certainly ‘individuals’ have become ‘consumers’ – but the problem is greater than this. Advertising, with its undeniable aspects of fantasy, often stands in complete opposition to critical thinking. This examination explores advertising’s effects on the individual through the critical lenses of ideology and psychoanalysis, concluding that although ideology is a relevant methodology, it remains incomplete. Psychoanalytic theory, on the other hand, provides multiple avenues of interpreting how advertising addresses both the conscious and the unconscious mind, and offers a potential methodology for personal resistance and social change.

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