Posts tagged ‘culture’

Literary Cannon

I have taken it upon myself as a  kind of belated new year’s resolution (aside the ‘must loose half my body weight for girlie holiday’ and ‘don’t leave cleaning the car until i loose a passenger under the filth!’) to invest in some of the books that we discussed as featuring on a typical ‘Leavis-like’ literary reading cannon.

I have so far spent so much money on Amazon I now have shares in the company …. and 5 books!

I finished 1984 last night after a week or so of dispersed readings and to be honest by the time I’d finished at around 2am this morning i was all but ready to jump from the nearest cliff (of which I doubt there is any around here as I live in the Midlands! – re-think plan!) it was so depressing!

I understand that at the time of its publication, it was considered to be very ‘forward-thinking’, even an innovation, in literature terms. However, would it really have killed Georgie to throw in a more racy sex scene or even a happy ending for the loved-up pair of traitors??!

I have now started the first few pages of Jane Eyre, which no doubt will take me a while to read for fear of ripping the ’tissue-like’ pages of the book (shame on you penguin classics!) and so I will post my progress shortly.


A Spot Of Light Reading: Stuart Hall: Notes On Deconstructing The Popular

Main Points:

  • ‘periodisation’ – he addresses our need to ‘categorize’ everything into ‘blocks’.
  • ‘class struggle’ – he talks of the continous struggle between the working, labouring, and the poor
  • ‘reformation’ – changes culture
  • tradition is hard to maintain as changing world makes it hard to set a ‘tradition’
  • popular press changed culture as did revolutions, & capitalism
  • culture constantly changes. Old things make way for new things.

Methods used:

  • Historiography
  • Own views and ideas
  • Cross-analyses facts with his own views and what he percievs culture to be like today.


  • ‘popular culture’ remains hard to define/pin point due to the ever-changing modern world.
  • Remains as ‘people vs power’ still


I do agree with how hard it can be now-a-days to define such a concept as ‘culture’ as we are constantly seeing new ‘niche cultures’ surfacing due to citizen journalism and a larger media market that caters for a much wider market.

However, he does seem to ‘shun’ the idea of ‘popular culture’, and talks of how everything blends into one, which I feel is a good thing, as it means that it is received by a much wider audience. (Popstar To Operastar).

Useful Quotes:

  • ‘‘tradisionalism’ has so often been misinterpreted as a product of a merely conservative impulse, backward-looking and anachronistic.’
  • ‘’Cultural change’ is a polite euphemism for the process by which some cultural forms and practices are driven out of the centre of popular life, actively marginalised. Rather than simply falling into disuse through the long march to modernism, things are actively pushed aside, so that something else can take their place.’
  • ‘’Class-against-class’, is the central line of contradiction around which the terrain of culture is polarised’
  • ‘The study of popular culture keeps shifting between these two, quite unacceptable poles: pure ‘autonomy’ or total encapsulation.’

A Spot Of Light Reading: F.R. Leavis, ‘Mass Civilisation And Minority Culture’

Leavis begins by making comment on the fact that there are now a lot less people who he would categorize as ‘qualified’ to comment upon ‘culture’, i.e. there are not many people now who would be able to comment first-hand on ‘high culture’.

“goodwill and intelligence are still too little available.”

“to set up as a critic is to set up as a judge of values…”

However, he then makes reference to an earlier work of his in which he counters this idea with:

“the record and perpetuation of the experiences which seem to him most worth having. For reasons which we shall consider … he is also the man who is most likely to have experiences of value to record. He is the point at which the growth of the mind shows itself”.

Here, Leavis hints that although someone may not have been brought up in a ‘high society’, the experience of life itself would allow any man (or woman) the right to comment upon high society.

He digresses to attack America for the ‘dumbing down’ of the British society, blaming the film industry primarily. Although I think he does go a little ‘overboard’, he does ‘back-peddle’ slightly in enough time to add that it is because of America we have ‘greater efficiency, better salesmanship, and more mass-production and standardisation’.

He also covers ‘language’, primarily English. He highlights Russell’s thoughts that ‘English is the best language in the world for advertising’, again with an underlying fear that the supposed ‘Americanization’ may destroy this.

‘Shakespeare was not highbrow’

He goes on to make a bold statement that: ‘standardized civilization is rapidly enveloping the whole world’. If this is indeed true, then it is rather worrying. Will we all soon become all the same? Will we blend into a huge mass culture, unable to differentiate from one culture to the next?

In conclusion, Leavis states: “it is vain to resist the triumph of the machine i.e. all the ‘pros’ that globalization has brought us.

I.A. Richards: “this century is in a cultural trough rather than upon a crest…the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better…a slow climb back may be possible”.

“it is best if we can to keep open our communications with the future”

It’s Only Flippin’ Pancake Day!

A severe case of repetitive strain injury is on the cards for a nation of pancake proffesionals as every Tom Dick and Harry tries out their ‘flippin’ skills and gorges on their ‘home made’ fondant-filled fancies.

The squirrels have been working overtime as the supermarket aisles are rammed with bumper packs of ‘Nutella’, and the only ‘juicy’ lemons left are of the ‘jif’ variety!

I’m still to brave the ‘pancak-ing’ after an 8 hour shift at work … or if i’m honest, just waiting for a time lapse in the kitchen where i wont get in trouble for sticking an over-enthusiastic attempt to my mother’s lovely white coving!

*Natalie Jane*

Happy Valentine’s Day: 14/2/2010:

Sainsbury’s has just about managed to shift it’s last ‘half price-buy on get one-1/3 off’ Christmas card in it’s seasonal sale when the ‘Valentine’s Aisle’ makes an appearance, decked out in all it’s horrifically-soppy ‘cheesyness’.

Call it a day of romance or yet another commercialised, over-rated ‘holiday’ that involves (much like any other) alot of the ‘green stuff’….but alas there’s no escaping it!

Every year on the 14th day of February, women and girls-alike await with anticipation an extortionately-priced bunch of man-handled roses and a soppy verse in a card, sporting a pair of ‘googly-eyed gorillas’ enblazend on the front (again over-priced).

However we all fall for this day of indulgence year after year … a guilty pleasure for millions of Brits…
All my but Grandmother of course, who refuses to allow a winged man in a nappy to dictate to her a specific day of the calendar in which she should set aside her weekly ‘perm’ to express her love for my Grandfather. Her outrage is usually followed by “i’ve been married to him for nearly 50 years! … never mind a ‘day’, i need a bloody medal!”

*Natalie Jane*

Media Culture, Week 1: 11/2/2010:

Today was our introductory lecture, in which John outlined issues and theories that were raised by the subject of ‘culture’.

Through group tasks we discovered what our own perceptions were of our ‘own cultures’. In order to do this, we had to choose a media text which we felt represented our ‘cultural level’ i.e. ‘high culture’, ‘low culture’, ‘middle brow culture’.

I chose ‘More!’, a popular culture magazine aimed at older ‘teens’ to 30-somethings, which covers everything from fashion to fortune-telling.

I feel that this encompasses what i find interesting i.e. ‘fashion’, ‘beauty’, ‘celebrity culture’ and it’s a form of journalism that i would be interested in a career in. It creates a platform for high-street fashion, and popular music and human interest stories. Mixed with the age of the target readership, i feel that this represents the ‘cultural group’ that i would fit myself into.

*Natalie Jane*