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The Labor of Culture: Creating Twentieth-Century American Consumerism

“The Labor of Culture: Creating Twentieth-Century American Consumerism” is the title of the lecture to be given by Dr. Shannan Clark when he comes to SUNY Orange at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 18. The program, which is free and open to the public, will take place in the OCTC Great Room 101 in Kaplan Hall.

Clark explains that the “presentation will offer new insights into the culture of twentieth-century American consumerism by examining the experiences of the people employed in the advertising, publishing, broadcasting, and design industries. 

Drawing on specific examples from major advertising agencies like J. Walter Thompson, major media conglomerates like Time Incorporated, and major industrial design agencies like Raymond Loewy Associates, the lecture will show how the conditions of white-collar labor within these workplaces ultimately shaped the cultural products that defined American life during the middle decades of the twentieth century. Special attention will be given to the struggles of those who worked in the culture industries to maintain or enhance their creative autonomy, either through the organization of unions, such as the Newspaper Guild, or by initiating alternative media and cultural initiatives.”

Clark has spent many years of research exploring the development of white-collar work in the twentieth-century United States, with a particular focus on labor relations within the culture industries, including advertising, the print media, the broadcast media, and design.  He is the author of “The Creative Class: White-Collar Workers and the Making of America’s Culture of Consumer Capitalism,” which is forthcoming for publication by Oxford University Press.

He holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA from Tulane University, and an MPhil and a PhD from Columbia University. Presently, he is an assistant professor at Montclair State University, where he teaches courses on the social, political, cultural, and intellectual history of the twentieth-century United States. Prior to joining the faculty of Montclair State in 2008, Clark taught courses at Princeton University, Columbia University, the Van Arsdale Labor Center of Empire State College (SUNY), the University of Missouri at St. Louis, and Tulane University.

Free, secure parking is available in the Kaplan Hall parking garage via the 73 First Street entrance.

For more information, contact Cultural Affairs at or call (845) 341-4891/9386, or visit the Cultural Affairs website

Event date, time and location.

Dorothy Szefc
Cultural Affairs