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Cultural Criticism And Frankenstein Essay, Research Paper


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 that?s 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

o Annales greatly influenced later thinkers like Michel Foucault, Roger Chartier, Jacques Ravel, Francois Furet and Robert Darnton

o Annales 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).

o Influenced by early Annales critics and contemporary Marxists, he sought to study cultures in terms of power relationships

o He refused to see power as something exercised by a dominant over a subservient class

o Power not just repressive power: a tool of conspiracy by one individual or institution against another.

o Power is a whole complex of forces


o Poovey closely connects the proprieties taught by eighteenth century women who write conduct manuals, ladies? magazines, and even novels with patriarchal notions of women and men?s property.

o Also shows that some of the women writers who reinforced properties were seen as ?textbook proper ladies? in fact ?crossed the borders of that limited domain.? They may have written stories showing the audacity for women, of trying to lead an imaginative, let alone audacious, life beyond the bounds of domestic propriety. But they did so imaginatively and audaciously.

Lee E. Heller

? Classified Frankenstein as Gothic Fiction, which existed in both high brow and popular forms of literature.

? Gothic Fiction appealed more to females.

? Frankenstein appealed to a broad audience. It broke the barriers of forms of art because it appealed to all tastes.

? It defied the boundaries between ?Literature? and ?popular fiction.?

? Even though it?s a classic, it?s fit for modern cultural criticism.

? Since the literary rate was higher, more people were able to read Frankenstein. It set off a moral debate about what proper entertainment should be for readers.

? Heller incorporated three forms of art: horror gothic, sentimental/educational gothic, and high philosophical gothic. Each different type of cultural work appeals to a different class of audience.

? Frankenstein is as much about good and bad education, salutary books, and Cornelius Agrippa?s corrupting, as it is a story of ghouls and monsters.

? Now ?Frankenstein? is used to speak of historical figures such as Hitler and shocking events and cultural issues.

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