Amusing Ourselves to Death

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Amusing Ourselves to Death Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Neil Postman
Postman is an American author, cultural critic, theorist and educator. Born in New York City, he played baseball through college before becoming interested in an academic career. He received a Master’s Degree from Columbia University’s teacher’s college, and went on to be affiliated with New York University for about 40 years. He was a prolific writer, and served as a department chair and professor at NYU until his death from lung cancer in 2003. He is best known for his works Amusing Ourselves to Death, Technopoly, and The End of Education.
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Historical Context of Amusing Ourselves to Death
The increasing ubiquity of television in America is at the center of this book’s set of concerns. When Postman was writing, computers were becoming more common, but the Internet had not been theorized in any concrete way yet. Postman’s account surmises that one of the greatest threats to American life and liberty in 1985 is the proliferation of televisions and television programming.
Other Books Related to Amusing Ourselves to Death
Postman repeatedly references both Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and 1984 by George Orwell. Postman aims to show that Huxley’s dystopian vision of the future is more correct than Orwell’s. Postman also references the work of the philosopher of communication and public intellectual Marshall McLuhan quite frequently, and Postman’s project builds off of McLuhan’s work, especially The Gutenberg Galaxy.
Key Facts about Amusing Ourselves to Death
  • Full Title: Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
  • Where Written: New York
  • When Published: 1985
  • Literary Period: Late Modern / Postmodern Non-fiction
  • Genre: Cultural Criticism, Media Theory
  • Setting: United States
Extra Credit for Amusing Ourselves to Death

Print Machine: Postman wrote 18 books and published over 200 articles over the course of his lifetime.