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Lecture 1 - Intro and Overview - January 8.docx

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Marcel Danesi

January 8, 2013. Lecture 1 – Intro and Overview? Youth Culture • Arguably beginning in the 1950s • Can be studied ideologically, or politically, or so on; prefer to study the semiotics of it, the meaning of the music and why genres arose at particular times in particular places o Will still acknowledge nature vs. culture • Before 1956 a culture of youth (according to prof) didn’t exactly exist; youth was “just a young person” • More sexual expression, more dancing, dancing became more.. arguable for older adults • Prohibition was not just shutting down alcohol, but trying to keep youth inside; the beginning of night life and the speakeasy • No real movies before the 1950s about teenagers; no literature; no musical movements run by youth: first was Blackboard Jungle • Postwar generation gave way to a youth that had a huge societal influence; music, movies, literature, style, politics, etc. • What is youth? o What is young? Puberty, teenagehood, etc. • Nature vs. culture o Nature is birth to death o Puberty intervenes; “there are two ages, before puberty and after puberty” o Gramsci? Everything changes after puberty o North America has a way of using science to explain away everything; find a theory to explain phenomenon like youth and teenagehood o Terms like child, adolescent, young adult, older adult, senior, etc. are not used in 80% of traditional culture; they are a societal structure; schemas • Themes o Idealism (Siddhartha)  Novel by Herman Hesse?  About the Buddha, who had all the riches and women he could want but was unhappy still and unfulfilled; so he journeys and finds spiritualism and leaves materialism  Used to be called prodigality; now is the discovery of meaning  The question you ask after puberty that you might not have asked before is “who am I?”; creates angst  Mitigation of angst is what youth culture comes from  Youth is a period of idealism as well; “I’m going to go out and save the world”  Also a period of testing yourself in the world; going out and seeing it; not liking what you see results in o Rebellion (against what?)  How to express rebellion? Writing, discussing, composing content that acknowledges your issues with the world and expresses them o Change  Change just for the sake of change is chaotic  Capitalism commoditizes youth culture o Expression (Music)  Ours words are us, our expression is us, why we get so angry or happy with a mark on an essay  Goth expression; Jungian archetype of the “shadow”; “Goths don’t go out before 11pm.” –Nicholas Diluzio o Eros vs. Thanatos  Sexuality becomes an enormous power during youth; defined as urges but also identity; what is masculinity; what it means to be male  The idea of identity was not discussed as it is today before the 1950s; not on a psychological “who am I?” level  Eros and Thanatos (Sexuality/Life and Death) come into our life with puberty  Death and defying death becomes an issue o “Through most of human history, young people were integrated into adult society early on, but beginning in the late 1800s, new laws and cultural practices began to isolate teens from adults, imposing on them an increasingly large set of restrictions and artificially extending childhood well past puberty.”  Adolescence is socially-constructed o Alienation and Anomie  Sturm and Drang – romantic view (idealism of youth)  Response to becoming alienated (disconnected from the “group”) is to create cliques and other groups of belonging  Anomie; powerless and unwanted; Emile Durkheim used anomie; no meaning to self or life and the only way out is suicide  The Catcher in the Rye 1951; explaining what is wrong with the world; alienation leading to anomie  Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens, after accidents and homicides  In huge urban centres it’s difficult to get to know people; creates alienation; we are tribal individuals and need the shelter and security of a group of people with whom we have things in common; need to belong somewhere  Group belonging and various initiation rites help mitigate the feeling of alienation/anomie  o Art and youth  Poetry, music, visual art are all very crucial o Technology and youth  Record players, CD players, walkmen, MP3 players and iPods, etc.  Ways for music to thrive today; a youth without a medium through which to listen to music is hardly a youth o Adolescence vs. teenagehood  Adolescence being a very scientific and technical term; first coined/used by a psychologist in 1904  Highschool was about keeping kids off the street after elementary school; because kids are trouble; through highschool they can be made literate and educated members of and contributions to society  Trauma theory: adolescence is a traumatic experience; trauma doesn’t come from the natural though; trauma is from trying to keep children children beyond the point at which childhood stops: adolescence  Three stages to life: childhood, adolescence, adulthood; thus the creation of adolescence as a technical and scientific term o Change in society; passage rites  The most complicated rites are those that signal the passage from childhood to maturity  Like initiation rites; proof t
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