Saturday, January 02, 2010

Reading & Watching

First book read of the new year: Lead Me On, by Victoria Dahl.

First movie watched (on DVD): Paperback Hero, with a young, very cute Hugh Jackman & Claudia Karvan as a truly delightful Aussie heroine.

In lieu of music this morning, here's a teaser from the latter, thanks to someone at YouTube:


Back on the 29th I spent some time reading "Mass Culture as Woman: Modernism's Other," by Andreas Huyssen (1986), which you can find over at Google Books. An oldie but goodie--ideas I've known, vaguely, for a very long time, but crisply expressed, and potentially useful both in the classroom (my students don't know this stuff) and for my current work on popular fiction.


Modernism: "an aesthetic based on the uncompromising repudiation of what Emma Bovary loved to read" (Huyssens, After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism, 45). And, again, this: "the repudiation of Trivialliteratur has always been one of the constitutive features of a modernist aesthetic intent on distancing itself and its products from the trivialities and banalities of everyday life" (47).

Williams? Reznikoff? Joyce? Hmmm.


"Mass culture and the masses as feminine threat--these notions belong to another age..." (62). Hmmm. In my classrooms, I still encounter it from students (male and female). Shall I blame older colleagues?

"After all, it has always been men rather than women who have had real control over the productions of mass culture" (62). True for popular romance fiction?


"None of this is to claim that the distinction between high art and mass culture no longer exists, either in Western societies or elsewhere, as some might argue, for it very much does. Differences will always remain in quality, ambition, and complexity between cultural products, in demands on the attentiveness and knowledge of the consumer, and in diversely stratified audiences. But what used to be a vertical divide has become in the last few decades a horizontal borderland of exchanges and pillagings, of transnational travels back and forth, and all kinds of hybrid interventions. Complexity does not reside only on one side of the old binary." (Huyssen, “High/Low” 370)


Also stumbled on this, from Bourdieu: “the ‘popular aesthetic’ is defined in relation to ‘high’ aesthetics and that reference to legitimate art and its negative judgement on ‘popular’ taste never ceases to haunt the popular experience of beauty” (Distinction 32).

I think I need to revisit Mr. B. This little scrap (found in the pages of someone else's dissertation) feels relevant to Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Natural Born Charmer, which we'll probably start with in my graduate romance class this quarter.

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