Culture/Metaculture (The New Critical Idiom)

Culture/Metaculture (The New Critical Idiom)

Francis Mulhern

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 0415102308

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Culture/Metaculture is a stimulating introduction to the meanings of 'culture' in contemporary Western society. This essential survey examines:

* culture as an antidote to 'mass' modernity, in the work of Thomas Mann, Julien Benda, José Ortega y Gasset, Karl Mannheim and F. R. Leavis
* changing views of the term in the work of Sigmund Freud, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, T. S. Eliot and Richard Hoggart
* post-war theories of 'popular' culture and the rise of Cultural Studies, paying particular attention to the key figures of Raymond Williams and Stuart Hall
* theories of 'metaculture', or the ways in which culture, however defined, speaks of itself.

Francis Mulhern's interdisciplinary approach allows him to draw out the fascinating links between key political issues and the changing definitions of culture. The result is an unrivalled introduction to a concept at the heart of contemporary critical thought.

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authorities to whom McGill’s IN THE WARS carnivalesque audience would never quite submit (1970a: 193). ‘Boys’ Weeklies’ turned on a critical motif that would one day become the call-sign of studies in popular culture: the left’s ‘failure to understand’. What the left failed to understand on this early occasion was the reality of England’s ‘family’ patriotism, against which callow internationalism would never prevail. The evidence was available in ‘popular imaginative literature’, but this was

cultural politics: DEFINITION: 1. The setting of bounds; limitation (rare) – 1483 If he insisted on culture as a whole way of life, it was not in the interests of conceptual advance, and not to revalue the meanings of popular life. His purpose was precisely to ‘limit’ and ‘set bounds’ to post-war cultural diffusionism, to discredit the ambitions of educational liberalism as misguided and otiose. ‘On the whole’, he wrote, ‘it would appear to be for the best that the great majority of human beings

unflagging consciousness of Britain’s class order and his own dislocated relation to it. He was, in his own later words, ‘a once-born socialist’ immovably committed to the welfare of his native class (Hoggart 1990: 78). The contemporary cultural materials that he went on to dissect – the glossy magazines, the pulp fiction, the popular song lyrics – did not express the traditional ethos of this class and did not (yet) define it, he argued. The populism of the cultural market was an ‘approach’ from

characterization. Throughout his career – in the Arts Council and UNESCO as well as in public education – Hoggart thought to serve his class of origin and at the same time to serve culture through the ‘practical criticism’ of policy and administration. His model institutions, the 59 60 KULTURKRITIK three volumes of his memoirs confirm, were adult education, the BBC and Penguin Books. Hoggart’s specific novelty was to renew, in modified social conditions, the tradition of Kulturkritik and the

subjectivity, meaning by this a modified balance of sympathy, a willingness, at last, to ‘connect’ with popular cul tural life. Under Hall, the Centre pursued a more radical aim, seeking not so much to modify the typical identity and address of Kulturkritik, the social relations inscribed in its discourse, as to displace them, in ‘a new kind of intellectual practice’ and a corresponding ‘organizational form’ (Hall 1980a: 43). Collectivism was the governing norm of CCCS activity. Its members

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