The Dangerous Blog for Grad Students

A How-To Tale

“English Studies, Aestheticism, and the Art-Culture System” Precis September 23, 2008

Filed under: Precis — deduvick @ 1:42 pm
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Joe Marshall Hardin

English Studies grew largely out of a need to acculturate students into the academic lifestyle.  They needed to know how to write so that they could show their knowledge of literature and how they applied theory.  Thus, this writing (composition) was perceived as a lower order than the literature that they were studying.  

That idea of “low order” and “high order” is very troubling and controversial.  There is such a way of perceiving things that are common or popular as “low.”  Out of this came the semiotic square, which pits high art, such as original pieces and the collection of them, against low art, like technology and anything unoriginal.  The other sides of the square are reserved for high culture (tribal crafts, historical or collector’s items) and low culture (anything commercial or odd/unnecessary).  This set up a dynamic which can be offsetting to the students attending the universities these days.  

With more diversity in our students, it makes sense that the material we put forth to be studied should be varied as well.  By taking away the titles of high and low and just presenting the piece for what it is, there is a better chance that our students would look at it more objectively and better understand what it is used for and how it significance politically or so on might be.  

Removing the art-culture system and the aestheticism (the unpractical appreciation for only beauty and art) would diversify our studies and English and open new avenues for exploration and criticism.  


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