James Murphy, Professor of Government

In this wonderfully thought-provoking book, Postman argues that childhood came into being with the institution of the school and the achievement of complex literacy skills. In the oral culture of the Middle Ages by contrast, children and adults shared the same world. Literacy meant that adults had secrets that were not readily accessible to children. But now with TV we see the rise of a visual culture in which children and adults again share the same world. With the Internet, all adult secrets are now totally open to all children. With the disappearance of childhood we also see the disappearance of adulthood: adults and children today dress the same, act the same, enjoy the same entertainment, and have similar crime rates. This is the appeal of the TV show "Madmen": A lost world of adults. Today, with no children and no adults we all dress, eat, and play like adolescents.