Culture - AS Communications and Culture

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Culture - debates and history

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Culture - AS Communications and Culture

  1. 1. { Culture Cultural product – what people in a culture make Cultural practice – what people in a culture do
  2. 2.  Since the 19th Century the things we do and produce in our culture have been separated into two categories. High and Low Culture
  3. 3.  Scared both by working-class revolutionary movements in Europe and the increasing financial power of the middle-classes in 19th century Britain. Matthew Arnold
  4. 4.  For Arnold, exposure to the ‘best that has been thought and said’ would civilise people. So a section of British cultural production was separated from culture in general and called ‘High’ culture.  Wrote Culture and Anarchy Civilisation
  5. 5.  Because the poor and middle-classes could not read Greek, Arnold chose the best of British culture as a way of civilising the masses.  Exposure to this would make them cultured and less likely to want to have a revolution. Britishness
  6. 6.  Cultural products: Shakespeare, Chaucer etc.  Cultural practices: Theatre, Ballet, Opera, Painting, Literature  The idea develops that exposure to these things made you a ‘better’ person. High Culture
  7. 7.  All aspects of British culture that were not included as High Culture were classes inevitably as Low or Popular Culture.  Very quickly it became accepted that the cultural practises of the working-classes were a bad thing. Low/Popular Culture
  8. 8.  These ideas filter into the education system.  We study high culture in schools but low/popular culture is seen as a bad thing to be discouraged. Education
  9. 9. dd F.R. Leavis (1895 – 1978)
  10. 10.  Leavis developed Arnold’s ideas while teaching at Cambridge University.  Came up with the idea of a ‘canon’ of the best English Literature  Studying this made you a better person  He was the first to study popular culture (Scrutiny) but as a warning of its dangers. The Great Tradition
  11. 11. ‚After Auschwitz there can be no more poetry.‛ Adorno.
  12. 12.  Theodore Adorno – a Marxist critic. Argued that the commandants of the concentration camps were ‘cultured’ men.  Their acts of utter evil meant the idea that there was a link between high culture and moral goodness was destroyed. 1903-1969
  13. 13.  Adorno was part of a group of thinkers called the Frankfurt School.  Like Leavis they hated popular culture  They saw it as bland repetitive rubbish produced by the huge capitalise culture industries.  It numbed the masses into accepting their exploitation by distracting them with trashy pop and genre fiction. Popular culture as the devil
  14. 14.  After the Second World War the first generation of working-class schoolboys to attend the new grammar schools went to Oxford and Cambridge.  They began to question the dismissive attitudes towards the popular culture they had grown up with. Cambridge in the 1950s
  15. 15.  Influential theorist – working class Welsh background.  Argued that we have to consider popular culture if we are to understand a culture as a whole.  Popular culture is part of the cultural conversation of a society (soap operas etc.) Raymond Williams
  16. 16.  Distinguished between Mass Culture and Folk Culture  Mass = cynically produced by huge corporations to appeal to the masses and make money from them  Folk culture = emerges organically from the experience of the lower classes (folk music, street dance, football etc) Richard Hoggart
  17. 17.  So people realised that we cannot just dismiss popular culture  In the 1970s thinkers began to take it seriously  Subjects such as media studies, communication studies, cultural studies appear on the curriculum alongside the traditional High Cultural courses. The birth of the subject
  18. 18.  Postmodern ways of looking at cultural production saw no need to divide it into high and low and say one should be taught as it made you a better person, and the other resisted as something bad.  It took popular culture seriously – Hollywood, comics, pop music, shopping (communication studies?)  Postmodern cultural forms refused to be split into high or low – Pavarotti on TOTP? Bob Dylan studied at university? Postmodernism and Culture

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