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CULTURAL CRITICISM AND FRANKENSTEIN Cultural Criticisms Goal of cultural criticism is to oppose culture with a capital C The view of culture which always and only equates it with what we call high culture Cultural critics want to make term culture refer to popular culture as well as the classics Break down the boundary between high and low and dismantle the hierarchy that the distinction implies Cultural critics want to get us away from thinking about certain works as the best ones produced by a given culture and therefore as the novels that best represent American culture They seek to be more descriptive and less evaluative more interested in relating than rating cultural products and events Culture is really a set of interactive cultures alive and growing and changing and cultural critics should be present and even future-oriented Cultural critics should be resisting intellectuals and cultural studies should be an emancipatory project Cultural critics view themselves in political even oppositional terms Not only are cultural critics likely to take on the literary canon while offering political readings of popular films but they are also likely to take on the institution of the university because thats where the old definitions of culture as High Culture have been most vigorously preserved defended and reinforced Critics in Europe drew upon the ideas of both Marxist and non-Marxist theorists Early critics belonged to Annales school oAnnales greatly influenced later thinkers like Michel Foucault Roger Chartier Jacques Ravel Francois Furet and Robert Darnton oAnnales school critics cohesion texts affect different readers in varying and individual ways Michel Foucault strong continental influence on present day cultural criticism and perhaps the strongest influence on American cultural criticism and new historicism an interdisciplinary form of historical criticism oInfluenced by early Annales critics and contemporary Marxists he sought to study cultures in terms of power relationships oHe refused to see power as something exercised by a dominant over a subservient class oPower not
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