The Well-Tempered Self: Citizenship, Culture, and the Postmodern Subject

While checking in books from the book drop today, I came across a new arrival at the Gottesman Library, Toby Miller’s The Well-Tempered Self: Citizenship, Culture, and the Postmodern Subject.  A stamp on the title page reveals that this 1993 cultural studies work was received at TC on October 7, 2011–not even a week ago.  In this early book from a now prolific professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside, Miller postulates the postmodern subject as one caught between competing cultural forces.  The back cover reads:

In The Well-Tempered Self, Toby Miller argues that the modern capitalist state musters a variety of cultural forces to send deliberately mixed messages about the nature of citizenship and the self.  The process creates ideal citizens: “cultural subjects” trained to meet the conflicting needs of the political and economic systems.  Miller contends that capitalism’s democratic politics requires selfless, community-minded citizens, while its economics depends on selfish, utilitarian consumers.  To fulfill these conflicting needs for political order and economic prosperity, powerful cultural forces are employed to instill a sense of “ethical incompleteness.”  Citizens are then offered political, cultural, and economic opportunities to become better, happier, and more fulfilled–opportunities that, in turn, encourage loyalty to both the political and economic systems.  In a series of case studies that demonstrate this process, Miller examines mass entertainment, political discourse, and methods of resistance to these powerful cultural forces.

For literary and cultural theory enthusiasts as well as those interested in institutional influences (especially pedagogical ones) upon the subject, this looks to be a good read. Here are the specs:

Title: The Well-Tempered Self: Citizenship, Culture, and the Postmodern Subject

Author: Toby Miller

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993

Call Number: JA 75.7.M55 1993

On the Web:

Toby Miller’s website, complete with lists of books, articles, talks and interviews, and even courses he teaches

The Johns Hopkins University Press

Reviews of The Well-Tempered Self