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Mass culture is a term which was used in the late nineteenth century until the 1950s. Since the 1960s the term popular culture has been used instead. [Jun 2006]
Related: mass society - popular culture
Key texts: The Intellectuals and the Masses (1992)
According to John Carey in The Intellectuals and the Masses (1992), Nietzsche is one of the earliest products of mass culture, because it created him "as its antagonist." The immense popularity of his ideas among early twentieth-century intellectuals suggests the panic that the threat of the masses aroused. W. B. Yeats recommended Nietzsche as "a counteractive to the spread of democratic vulgarity".
Case study: Georges Duhamel on film
Duhamel, who detests the film and knows nothing of its significance, though something of its structure, notes this circumstance as follows: "I can no longer think what I want to think. My thoughts have been replaced by moving images." (Georges Duhamel, *Scenes de la vie future*, Paris, 1930, p. 52.) --The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, 1936
The mass is a matrix from which all traditional behavior toward works of art issues today in a new form. Quantity has been transmuted into quality. The greatly increased mass of participants has produced a change in the mode of participation. The fact that the new mode of participation first appeared in a disreputable form must not confuse the spectator. Yet some people have launched spirited attacks against precisely this superficial aspect. Among these, Duhamel has expressed himself in the most radical manner. What he objects to most is the kind of participation which the movie elicits from the masses. Duhamel calls the movie "a pastime for helots, a diversion for uneducated, wretched, worn-out creatures who are consumed by their worries . . ., a spectacle which requires no concentration and presupposes no intelligence . . ., which kindles no light in the heart and awakens no hope other than the ridiculous one of someday becoming a 'star' in Los Angeles." (Duhamel, op. cit., p. 58.) Clearly, this is at bottom the same ancient lament that the masses seek distraction whereas art demands concentration from the spectator. That is a commonplace. --The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, 1936
le film "est un divertissement d'ilotes, un passe-temps d'illettrés, de créatures misérables, ahuris par leur besogne et leurs soucis […], un spectacle qui ne demande aucun effort, qui ne suppose aucune suite dans les idées, ne soulève aucune question, n'aborde sérieusement aucun problème, n'allume aucune passion, n'éveille au fond des cœurs aucune lumière, n'excite aucune espérance, sinon celle, ridicule, d'être un jour "star" à Los Angeles." (Georges Duhamel, Scènes de la vie future). --http://www.prefigurations.com/numero8femmes/htm8femmes/revue_4benjaminimage.htm [Sept 2005]
Georges Duhamel (June 30, 1884 - April 13, 1966), was a French author, born in Paris.
Duhamel trained as a doctor, and during World War I was attached to the French army. In 1920, he published Confession de minuit, the first of a series featuring the anti-hero Salavin. In 1935, he was elected as a member of the Academie Francaise. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Duhamel [Sept 2005]
See also: The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction - film
Mass Culture the Popular Arts in America (1957) - Bernard Rosenberg & David Manning White (Editor)
Mass Culture the Popular Arts in America (1957) - Bernard Rosenberg & David Manning White (Editor) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Comprehensive collection of writings on mass culture in film, literature, radio, TV, advertising, and popular music. Forty nine articles by varied writers including Alexis de Tocqueville, Walt Whitman, S.I Hayakawa, Marshall McLuhan, Hortense Powdermaker, and George Orwell. Articles include: "Avant-Garde and Kitch", "The Problem of Paperbacks", "Simenon and Spillane: The Metaphysics of Murder for the Millions", "How to Read L'il Abner Intelligently", "Mass Appeal and Minority Tastes", "Popular Songs vs. the Fact of Life", and "Popular Culture and the Open Society". The writers address the question "Should we adopt the classic intellectual rejection of mass culture, or should we give mass culture our critical support?" The Free Press engage two editor who were in radical disagreement on this question in order to be certain that both sides were well supported.
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See also: mass culture - American culture - popular culture
After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism (Theories of Representation and Difference) (1986) by Andreas Huyssen
After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism (Theories of Representation and Difference) (1986) by Andreas Huyssen [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]"Pop in the broadest sense was the context in which a notion of the postmodern first took shape, and from the beginning until today, the most significant trends within postmodernism have challenged modernism's relentless hostility to mass culture." -- Andreas Huyssen
"all culture is standardized, organized and administered for the sole purpose of serving as an instrument of social control" (Huyssen 21).
See also: Andreas Huyssen - mass - popular culture - Modernism - Postmodernism
The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880-1939 (1992) - John Carey
The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880-1939 (1992) - John Carey [Amazon.com]
See entry for The Intellectuals and the Masses (1992)
A Theory of Popular Culture (1944) - Dwight Macdonald
In 1944, meanwhile, Dwight Macdonald, an editor of Partisan Review, published his seminal essay “A Theory of Popular Culture” – to which T.S. Eliot paid the compliment in 1948 of saying that he believed Macdonald’s was the best alternative to Eliot’s own Notes Toward the Definition of Culture. Macdonald for his part refined his views in 1953 with the essay, “A Theory of Mass Culture,” later expanded in the long essay, “Masscult and Midcult.” Roger cites Eliot frequently in his book, but he does not cite the American Macdonald – though truth to tell, Roger seems to me rather closer to Macdonald than to Eliot. --Culture: High, Low, Middlebrow, and Popular by Mark C. Henrie via http://www.isi.org/lectures/text/pdf/henrie10-15-04.pdf [May 2006]
Dwight Macdonald (1906-1982) was an American writer, editor, social critic, philosopher, and political radical. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwight_MacDonald [May 2006]
The New York Intellectuals were a group of American writers and literary critics who advocated left-wing, anti-Stalinist political ideas in the mid-20th century. The group is also known for having sought to integrate literary theory with Marxism. Several New York Intellectuals were educated at the City College of New York in the 1930s, and many were associated with the left-wing political journal The Partisan Review. Writer Nicholas Lemann has described the New York Intellectuals as "the American Bloomsbury". Writers often considered among the New York Intellectuals include Philip Rahv, William Phillips, Mary McCarthy, Dwight Macdonald, Lionel Trilling, Clement Greenberg, Irving Kristol, Sidney Hook, Irving Howe, Alfred Kazin, and Daniel Bell. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Intellectuals [May 2006]
See also: T. S. Eliot - mass culture - popular culture theory
Mass Civilization and Minority Culture (1930) - F. R. Leavis
Elitist (or negative classicism as Patrick Brantlinger would term it) essay by F. R. Leavis.
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