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1st Edition

Profanity, Obscenity and the Media

Edited By Melvin J. Lasky Copyright 2005
    ISBN 9781412854955
    362 Pages
    Published August 30, 2014 by Routledge

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    Sale Price USD $47.96
    ISBN 9780765802200
    364 Pages
    Published March 31, 2004 by Routledge

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    Original Price $170.00
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    This is the second volume of Melvin J. Lasky's The Language of Journalism series, praised as a "brilliant" and "original" study in communications and contemporary language, and as "a joy to read." When it was first published, it broke ground in focusing on the comparative styles and prejudices of mainstream American and British newspapers, and in its trenchant analysis of their systematic debasement of language in the face of obligatory platitudes and compulsory euphemisms.

    Lasky documents the growing crisis affecting honest, thoughtful, and independent journalism in the Western world. He extends the scope of his first volume in the trilogy and deepens the interpretation. He also adds a personal touch of wit and anecdote, as one might expect from an experienced international journalist and historian. Lasky's examination of the use of formerly forbidden language is a triumph of sinuous semantics. In his incisive analysis, we see the tortuous struggle of a once Puritanized literary culture writhing to break free of censorship and self-censorship.

    This volume on the phenomenon of profanity adds another dimension to Lasky's thesis on mass culture's trivialization of real social and political phenomena. It also underscores our society's embrace of banality, in standardizing politically correct jargon and slang. Readers of the first volume will find here a new range of references to illuminate the detail of what our newspapers have been publishing.


    Part 1: Towards a Theory of Journalistic Malpractice
    1. From A. N. Whitehead to Irving Kristol
    Illusions and Self-Deception
    Hard Facts and Soft Future
    Adversarial Culture
    "Sensations": From Silent Images to Talking Pictures
    Art News and New Art
    Of Nihilism and Mendacity
    2. The Little Lie and the Big Story
    Hitler's Hoax
    The Counterfeiter's Fiction
    Mysteries of the Piltdown Forgery
    3. Difficulties in Grappling with Reality
    The Reporter Rearranges the Scene
    Janet Cooke and the Color of Truth
    The Duping of Hersh's "Camelot"
    Martin Walser's "Catechism of Correctness"
    4. The New Shamanism

    Part 2: Sex and Other Ongoing Titillations
    5. The Ennui of Obscenity
    Between Sexual Virility and Erotic Fatigue
    Low Notes in High C
    A-Word to S-Word, and their Synonyms
    Of Ideology and Scatology
    The Snafu Known as Swag
    Filling Out the Missing Details
    Private Parts, Public Lives
    Alphabet Soup
    Mr. Bloomberg's "$!*@&"
    6. "O Propheta"
    The Last Refuge
    Porno Ploys and Crackable Codes
    A*c*c*o*m*p*l*i*c*e*s, or: Participatory Obscenity
    Steiner and Burgess On "Love"
    7. Chaucer and a Choice of Taboo Words
    8. Strong Odors, Blurred Pictures
    9. Obsessions with the S-Word
    10. The Case of the Missing F**r-L****r Word
    11. Asterisks: From Byron to Madonna
    12. Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad F-Word?
    13. Tiger, the Times, and a Dreaded Black Asterisk
    14. Morphing the A-Word
    15. Terms of Agreement and Endearment
    16. The Mergenthaler Option
    17. A Matter of Illegitimacy
    18. The Guard that Failed
    19. The Desperate Search for "the Good Bits"
    Sporting Language
    Tom Jones and the Language Police
    20. Swearing is the Curse

    Part 3: Literary Origins and Popular Consequences
    21. Sources of Malpractice
    22. From Wordsworth to Orwell and Hemingway
    23. The Prose We Write and Speak
    24. Dealing with the Grandmother Tongue
    The Continuing Domestication of Yiddishisms
    Leo Rosten's Gallimaufry
    25. Quotations that were Unquoted
    26. Dirty Realism in the White House and Beyond
    27. Towards a Vocabulary of Pop Diplomacy



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