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The Myth of Popular Culture. From Dante to Dylan. Wiley–Blackwell Manifestos

  • ID: 2247605
  • Book
  • December 2009
  • Region: Global
  • 224 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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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.

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Preface: The Resistance to Pop


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"


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


The Limits of Typology

Dylan as Poet

8. Words and Music


"Slippin and Slidin "

Dylan and Deferred Action

9. Dylan Himself

The Death of the Author

The Grand Tour and the Middle Passage


10. The Three Icons: Sinatra, Presley, Dylan

Iconography and Gender

The Fedora as Phallus

Elvis as Bobbysoxer

"My Darling Young One"

Works Cited


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Perry Meisel
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