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Study Guide

English 2017- Final Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam ( 113 pages long!)


Department
English
Course Code
English 2017
Professor
Nigel Joseph
Study Guide
Final

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Western
English 2017
Final EXAM
STUDY GUIDE

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Mass Civilisation and Minority Culture (1930)
In any period it is upon a very small minority that the discerning appreciation of art
and literature depends: it is (apart from cases of the simple and familiar) only a few
who are capable of unprompted, first-hand judgement.
The machine, in the first place, has brought about change in habit and the
circumstances of life at a rate for which we have no parallel….
[Films] provide now the main form of recreation in the civilized world; and they
involve surrender, under conditions of hypnotic receptivity, to the cheapest
emotional appeals, appeals the more insidious because they are associated with a
compellingly vivid illusion of actual life.
The American critic Allan Bloom argues that rock music undermines the
possibility of great art by offering easy sexual satisfactions in place of the
renunciations and sublimation that artists of earlier eras had to undergo:
Allan Bloom (Closing of the American Mind)…rock music has one appeal only, a
barbaric appeal, to sexual desirenot love, not eros, but sexual desire
undeveloped and untutored. It acknowledges the first emanations of children’s
emerging sensuality and addresses them seriously, eliciting them and
legitimating them, not as little sprouts that must be carefully tended in order to
grow into gorgeous flowers, but as the real thing. Rock gives children, on a silver
platter, with all the public authority of the entertainment industry, everything their
parents always used to tell them they had to wait for until they grew up and would
understand later.
Ministering to and according with the arousing and cathartic music, the lyrics
celebrate puppy love as well as polymorphous attractions, and fortify them against
traditional ridicule and shame. The words implicitly and explicitly describe bodily
acts that satisfy sexual desire and treat them as its only and routine culmination for
children who do not yet have the slightest imagination of love, marriage, or family.
This has a much more powerful effect than does pornography on youngsters, who
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have no need to watch others do grossly what they can so easily do themselves.
Voyeurism is for old perverts; active sexual relations are for the young…. The
inevitable corollary of such sexual interest is rebellion against the parental
authority that represses it….
I believe [rock music] ruins the imagination of young people and makes it very
difficult for them to have a passionate relationship to the art and thought that are
the substance of liberal education…. Rock music provides premature ecstasy and,
in this respect, is like the drugs with which it is allied. It artificially induces the
exaltation naturally attached to the completion of the greatest endeavours
victory in a just war, consummated love, artistic creation, religious devotion and
discovery of the truth.
One of the most comprehensive and influential critiques of popular culture is that
written by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. The following extracts are
from a chapter in their Dialectic of Enlightenment (complete essay is in
coursepack; these passages are among the more important ones:
The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception (1944)
…culture now impresses the same stamp on everything.
Films, radio and magazines make up a system which is uniform as a whole and in
every part. Even the aesthetic activities of political opposites are one in their
enthusiastic obedience to the rhythm of the iron system. The decorative industrial
management buildings and exhibition centers in authoritarian countries are much
the same as anywhere else. The huge gleaming towers that shoot up everywhere
are outward signs of the ingenious planning of international concerns, toward
which the unleashed entrepreneurial system (whose monuments are a mass of
gloomy houses and business premises in grimy, spiritless cities) was already
hastening. Even now the older houses just outside the concrete city centres look
like slums, and the new bungalows on the outskirts are at one with the flimsy
structures of world fairs in their praise of technical progress and their built-in
demand to be discarded after a short while like empty food cans.
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