The Myth of Popular CultureFrom Dante to Dylan
Wiley-Blackwell Manifestos 1. Aufl.
The Myth of Popular Culture from Dante to Dylan is a fascinating examination of the cultural traditions of the American novel, Hollywood, and British and American rock music which leads us to redefine our concept of the division between "high" and "low" culture. A stimulating history of high and low culture from Dante Alighieri to Bob Dylan, providing a controversial defence of popular culture Seeks to rebut the durable belief that only high culture is ‘dialectical’ and popular culture is not by turning Theodor Adorno’s theories on ‘pop’ against themselves Presents a critical analysis of three popular traditions: the American novel, Hollywood, and British and American rock music Offers an original account of Bob Dylan as an example of how the distinction between high and low culture is highly problematic A provocative book for any student, scholar or general reader, who is interested in popular culture
Preface: The Resistance to Pop Acknowledgments Part I "The Battle of the Brows" 1. A History of High and Low "Highbrow," "Lowbrow," "Middlebrow" "Folk" and "Soul" Dante’s Republic "General Converse": Johnson and the Long Eighteenth Century "Similitude in Dissimilitude" Keats and Mediocrity Culture and Anarchy in the UK "The Battle of the Brows" "Kitsch" The Myth of Popular Culture 2. Pop Culture in the Spectator Poems of the People Canons and "Camp" Base and Superstructure, Soma and Psyche 3. Pop and Postmodernism The Social Self Andy Warhol "Hey, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Hair" Part II Dialectics of Pop 4. The Death of Kings: American Fiction from Cooper to Chandler "Paleface" and "Redskin," Cowboy and Dandy Pathfinding: Cooper and Mark Twain Labor, Leisure, Love: Melville, James, Hemingway Transatlantic: Raymond Chandler 5. Knock on Any Door: Three Histories of Hollywood Ars Gratia Artis Benjamin, Bazin, Eisenstein Dialectics of Directing: Hawks, Welles, Scorsese Dialectics of Acting: Barrymore, Bogart, Brando Blonde on Blonde: Harlow and Monroe Hang ’Em High: Welles, Lewis, Eastwood 6. The Blues Misreading of Gospel: A History of Rock and Roll A Scandal in Bohemia Jazz Myth, Jazz Reality Soul Synthesis Plugging In Buddy Holly and the British Invasion The Body English Part III The World of Bob Dylan 7. Dylan and the Critics Falling The Limits of Typology Dylan as Poet 8. Words and Music Fractions "Slippin’ and Slidin’" Dylan and Deferred Action 9. Dylan Himself The Death of the Author The Grand Tour and the Middle Passage Hortatory 10. The Three Icons: Sinatra, Presley, Dylan Iconography and Gender The Fedora as Phallus Elvis as Bobbysoxer "My Darling Young One" Works Cited Index
Perry Meisel is Professor of English at New York University. His books include The Myth of the Modern (1987), The Cowboy and the Dandy (1999), and The Literary Freud (2007). He has also written widely for publications that include The Village Voice, The New York Times, Partisan Review, and October.
In this fascinating examination of popular culture, esteemed cultural critic Perry Meisel shatters conventionally held notions about the division between “high” and “low” culture with the provocative theory that popular culture has sustained dialectical rhythms. Meisel’s deft critical analysis of three enduring cultural traditions – the American novel, Hollywood, and British and American rock music – leads us to question the very concept of the division between “high” and “low” culture. Meisel begins his engaging discussion by refuting philosopher Theodor Adorno's assertion that “high” culture is “dialectical” and “pop” is not, showing that popular culture does indeed have a conversation both with its sources and with cultural authority as a whole. In the final section, Meisel turns his attention to Bob Dylan, a figure who, more than any other, shows what it means to synthesize and revise all traditions – music, poetry, iconography – and transform them completely. Brilliantly conceived and clearly articulated, The Myth of Popular Culture from Dante to Dylan redefines the way in which we think about all forms of artistic expression.
“Perry Meisel’s study of popular culture is a surprising enhancement of received opinion and common wisdom on that vexed subject. Moving from Shakespeare through Freud on to Bobby Dylan would seem something of a descent, yet Meisel provides a perspective that has its own descriptive justice. Even if I am not wholly persuaded that Dylan’s ultimate importance is as sublime as Meisel ventures it to be, I am given much here to intrigue me.” —Harold Bloom “Perry Meisel has written a boundary-smashing critique of the myth that popular culture is distinct from and inferior to the fine arts.” —Richard Goldstein, Hunter College of the City University of New York "... stunning in its originality, breadth, erudition, and in its understanding of the transatlantic evolution of popular culture." —Josephine G. Hendin, New York University
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