Image credit: Victor GAD Marija Dalbello Reading Interests
Image credit: Victor GAD Marija Dalbello Reading Interests of Adults Cultural Theory and Popular Culture Rutgers School of Communication and Information
[email protected] Overview ______________________________________ _ Reading in a broader context of cultural production society and its institutions and consumption of texts Transmedia storytelling - convergence culture What is Popular Culture? Culture concepts
grassroots, popular, common, mass, lite, high-middlelow brow Definitions and approaches to the study of culture Transmedia storytelling ______________________________________ _ Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture Telling stories across multiple forms of media Mass audiences involved in their circulation and re-circulation Storylines, themes, messages - of mass media
ecologies Popular fiction - node in a larger framework of storytelling Transmedia culture phenomena - examples What is Popular Culture? ____________________________________ ___ Popular culture can be defined (cf. Storey): quantitatively: culture of the many - forms widely favored residually: denoting all that is not high
culture as being same as mass culture (commercialized) as culture originating from the people as culture of resistance common culture today is overcome by commercial interest - leaves no space for authentic expression Related culture concepts: What is culture? ___________________________________ ____
Social behavior norms of politeness Material culture Hopi pottery Cultural texts and practices carnival Shared fantasies storytelling forms: myths, fables, romances
300+ definitions of culture recorded (Kroeber) Culture: approaches and definitions ______________________________________ _ E.B. Tylor (1871): Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs, and other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society M. Mead (1960s): Culture is a learned behavior of a society or a subgroup R. Williams (1970s): Culture includes the
organization of production, the structure of the family, the structure of institutions which express or govern social relationships, the characteristic forms through which members of the society communicate C. Geertz (1980s): Culture is simply the ensemble Culture as an object of study ______________________________________ _ Subject area not clearly defined: all-inclusive notion of culture and study of a range of practices
Principles and theories from social sciences disciplines, the humanities, and the arts are adapted to the purposes of cultural analysis Methodologies diverse: textual analysis, ethnography, psychoanalysis, survey research, etc. What is Cultural Studies? ______________________________________ _ Study of culture rather than society Progressive, radical, political Prevalent in arts, humanities, social sciences,
science & technology Cultural Studies - non disciplinary ______________________________________ _ Cultural studies impossible to define: collective term for diverse and contentious intellectual endeavors Many theoretical and political positions Includes established and radical disciplines, political activism and modes of inquiry (critical
theory) Anti-discipline; not institutionalized in departments Historical background ______________________________________ _ Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) established in 1964 Working Papers in Cultural Studies in 1972 Forefathers: Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams, E.P. Thompson, Stuart Hall
Working-class background; role of popular culture in class-based society in England R. Hoggart & R. Williams ______________________________________ _ Working class intellectuals The culture of common people (working class culture) seen as more authentic than middle- and upper-class culture; derives from experience Against canonical litism (high culture) Interest in active appropriation of cultural
forms & class struggle in the cultural arena Mass culture seen as colonizingworking class culture -packaged for passive absorption by the cultural industry producers But what to do? R. Hoggart ______________________________________ _ Founder of CCCS
The Uses of Literacy (1957) programmatic work; parts of it written as a manifesto Problem: working classes excluded from participation and dissemination of their cultural forms and practices Cultural struggle over legitimacy and cultural status of forms and practices Critical reading of art needs to reveal the felt quality of life of a society; art captures the experience of the everyday as the unique R. Williams
______________________________________ _ Marxist tradition (the New Left) Culture is an expression of the coherence of organic communities resisting determinism in its various forms Culture: material, intellectual and spiritual (base and superstructure) Centrality of the culture of everyday life (texts that capture the structure of feeling of everyday life, the sense of an poque) - not only validates such culture and its study but validates
its production and gives it a status of insight into the dynamics of societys struggle Goals of Cultural Studies ______________________________________ _ Examine cultural practices in their relationship to power; how power shapes these practices Culture is studied in the social and political context in which its forms manifest themselves Culture is both object of study and vehicle for changing political consciousness through this
understanding (scholarly & applied) Reconcile division between tacit / universal knowledge; validation of experience (local knowledge) in addition to generally shared forms of knowledge. Moral evaluation of modern society and means for radical action Cultural Studies - concerns _______________________________________ Cultural studies focus on analysis of cultural forms and their meaning in the context of power relations in society
Study of social relations and meanings (how social divisions are made meaningful) Culture is terrain on which ideological representations of class, gender, race are enforced, and contested by social groups validating their experience Hegemony explains how society is bound together (without the use of force) under the moral and intellectual leadership of the ruling classes Operates in the realm of representations and consciousness Naturalizes a class ideology and renders it in
the form of common sense Culture is site of class struggle _______________________________________ Gramsci (1891-1937) - Prison Notebooks Hegemony _______________________________________ Hegemony relies on negotiation & consent Exercised through authority, not physical force Operates through institutions (educational system, media and the family)
Competing classes achieve a compromise equilibrium Culture as key site of struggle of competing interests Popular culture is an arena of resistance but also of enforcing hegemony Paradoxically, the sphere of culture perceived as non-political although it is a conduit for hegemonic representations Implies power inequality in different segments of Theories and theorists of culture _______________________________________
Culture and civilisation (Matthew Arnold; Leavisism) canon Culturalism (Raymond Williams, E.P. Thompson, Richard Hoggart, Stuart Hall) authenticity Structuralism (Ferdinand de Saussure,Claude LviStrauss, Roland Barthes) signs; unconscious foundations; signification Post-Structuralism; Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, Edward Said) meaning is process Marxism (Classical; the Frankfurt School, Althusserian; neo-Gramscian; Bakhtin) cultural texts reflect how society is organized Feminism (Janice Radway) constructing identity
through consumption Popular culture as play ______________________________________ _ Texts do not have a single meaning Readers are poachers Lart pour lart Mikhail Bakhtin: carnivalesque nature of culture This playful and irreverent nature of culture is noted in medieval practices of carnival, but popular literary genres, music and other cultural
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