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Lecture 3

VPAB05H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: F. R. Leavis, Nfkb1, Tsk Tsk Tsk


Department
Arts Management
Course Code
VPAB05H3
Professor
Alan Stanbridge
Lecture
3

Page:
of 6
VPAB05
Readings for Today
John Storey Chapter 3: Culturalism (p37-58)
Richard Hoggart
Raymond Williams
Culture
Raymond Williams on ‘Culture’ “one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language”
- Complex, contestation, debate over this.
- So many ways to theoretically see what culture is
Culturalism
Richard Hoggart
Raymond Williams
“Hoggart and Williams…challenge many of the basic assumptions of Leavisism, whilst also sharing some of its
assumptions” (37)
- They’re in 50s, 60s
- Challenging Leavisism
Leavisism
- Arguing for abolishment of upper class so middle class can take over. So working class can remain subjugated
- Working class to civilize them to the extent that they will understand their place
- 30s, but still very prevalent
E.P. Thompson
- Marxist historian
“Hoggart and Williams break w/ Leavisism; Thompson breaks w/ mechanistic and economistic versions of Marxism” (37)
- “stresses ‘human agency,’ the active production of culture, rather than its passive consumption” (37)
- Ex. We are our own free agents but we choose to be under the structure of the educational institutionalism
- Ex. We are free individuals and have rights but we are all under the law. One would hope if a certain person
breaks the law would have a just consequence.
- Notion that we are free agents but subjugate to structures
- Ex. Drivers and Traffic lights
- This approach stresses human agency, theories before it stressed much on structure. Bringing human back into
the picture. Passive consumption refers to public just consuming the media, couch potatoes
- He says people aren’t just passively consuming, that they are active and respond to it
Stuart Hall and Paddy Whannel
- Classic left-Leavisite focus on popular culture
- Still stress Leavisitm
- Shows how deeply embedded it is
- “The contributions of Hoggart, Williams, Thompson, and Hall and Whannel, clearly mark the emergence of what
is now known as the cultural studies approach to popular culture”
Hoggart: The Uses of Literacy (1957)
- Book divided into two parts
- On the one hand, we have the traditional ‘lived culture’ of the 30s. The other, we have the cultural decline of the
50s
- He celebrates the lived culture but worries about the culture after 50s
- Autobiographical approach vs. academic research
- Hoggart’s vision is of a popular culture that is communal and self-made
- Romanticism, but a utopian energy (Hoggart reading.. see in the beginning of day trips and such, very romantic)
- Culture ‘of the people’ – from the “loins of people” vs. ‘a world where things are done for the people” mass
culture, often argued that it does things to people (40)
- Pessimistic view of the 50s, celebrates popular culture of 30s(40)
- ‘The full rich life’ vs. “invitations to a candy-floss world’ – shows us contrasts of Hoggart’s theoretical approach
- In the analysis of the 50s, the “popular aesthetic….” (41)
o Shows dichotomy of the 30s and 50s ..
- Felt that there was always something corrupting us.. radio, computer, T.V., Hollywood
- In popular fiction the concept of ‘moral tone’ “(meaning fiction should tell us what to think) seems to lead us
nowhere but back to the rather bogus certainties of Leavisism” (42)
o Moral lessons
o Tarantino condemning gays in his movie; telling audiences what is right, wrong
- Continues to list problems of 50s Milk bars. Place where younger boys gather because they couldn’t drink.
Very popular in English
- Juke box boys (aka Teddy Boys)
- Americanization American music, films, etc.
- “less intelligent… the directionless and tamed helots [people in servitude] of a machine-minding class” (Hoggart,
43)
- Much in common w/ Leavisism
- Both operate w/ a notion of cultural decline
- Both see education in discrimination as a means to resist the manipulative appeal of mass culture
- What makes Hoggart’s approach diff is his commitment to working class culture
o He said in 50s, the working class from 30s are still there
o Mass culture of teenagers
- “what hoggart celebrates (44)
E.P. Thompson: The Making of the English Working Class
“Class happens when some men…” (49)
- Industrial revolution, urbanization, loss of agrarian in English culture
- Carefully worded sentence
- This is how he defines class
- Classic expel of ‘history from below’ in a double sense
o History is written/told from the winners
o Ex. Social conditions are described by the upper-middle class, etc.
o 1. Seeks to reintro working-class experience into the historical process (Thompson was trying to tell it
from below)
o 2. In that it insists that the working class were the conscious agents of their own making (49-50) they
worked for it, fought for their own conditions. They created their own conditions, trying to make it the
best situation possible although even though some of these conditions were originally given to them
- “I am seeking to rescue..” (Thompson, 50)
- “Culturalism is a methodology which stresses culture” (Storey, 51)
o No need to react to the second
o Thompson is saying that we need to talk about the small men and women. This was an enormous shift
to the established discourses that exited already
Hall & Whannel: The Popular Arts
- Fear of mass culture
- Calling on people that run the mass media, calling on parents and teachers
Main thesis:
- “in terms of actual quality…the struggle between what is good and worthwhile and what is shoddy and debased
is not a struggle against the modern forms of communication, but a conflict within these media” (51)
o Not just fighting against mass media, look at it and assess it… though not very successful
- “Part of the iam of IThe Popular arts..” (52)
o Doesn’t reject popular culture, look at it to analyuze the discrimination
- Leavist: good high culture against ‘bad’ popular culture.
- Popular culture: good and bad, approach different forms of discrimination
- “Rather than confront the mass culture critique…” (54)
- Positive critique: “Hall and Whannel also identify…” (55) cyclical – every generation does this to separate from
parents, adults,
o Fashion Re-appropriation/Retro
Flares
Hipster pants
Peasant blouses
Tie-dye
Platform shoes
Stretchy acrylic
Polyester?
o Keywords of 1960s: Hip, groovy,cool, far out, fab, trip, square, man, hang out, peace, funky
o Keywords 90s-11: like, chill, totally, whatever, awesome, man, deal, peeps, dude, sucks, rocks, it’s all
good, hang, come with
o Words and fashion is more eclectic in general seems like
- “They argue that there is very often conflit…” (55)
o Cultural text, cultural artifacts, not textbook
- “teenage culture is a contradictory mixture..” (Hall & Whannel 55)
o Conflict and friction between self-expression and commercial/popular culture
- “Despite the theoretical…” (Storey, 56)
Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies
- “Culturalists study cultural texts ..” (56)
o He’s trying to sum up cultural
o What did it do in the social, economic and political content
Williams The Analysis of Culture
Three general categories in the definition of culture:
1. Ideal: absolute or universal values
a. In quick short-hand you can relate that to canon, Leavist, Williams’ notion of selection tradition,
narrowest
2. Documentary: body of intellectual and imaginative work recorded culture
a. early social artifacts , early cinema history is not known to us threw em away, archival
3. Social: “a description of a particular way of life…”, “the analysis of culture, from such a definition..” – setting
himself a methodological question esp. when it’s not an active culture, not part of our own culture
a. Broad definition
3 different approaches in understanding culture
“It seems to me that there is value in… (p42)
- He’s not saying reject the others, there is value in all three. But “I find it very difficult… (p42) he’s saying get
away from discourse of absolute values, he says there is no such thing.
- Prof says “no such thing as work of art” … 1. Because work of art’s definition is so broad 2. Dependent on
relationship with the art
“The variations of meaning… (p43)
Don’t shy away from complexity, messy world
“An ‘ideal’ definition which attempts to…” (pg.43)
- Don’t abstract the projected values from society but analyze it
“A documentary definition… (p43-44)
Problem in formalistic approach, just talk about what’s in the frame, the painting itself is not good. Much fuller,
accurate, deep and talk about the subjects in the society that produced them and how to understand it as part of the
society and not a part FROM society.