Lecture 3 Politics of Popular Culture

Lecture 3 Politics of Popular Culture - AMST203: Lecture...

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AMST203: Lecture for 9/28/2007 The Politics of Popular Culture Jim Cullen’s chapter for this week, “Mediating Communities: Popular Culture and Modern Technology, 1900-1945” covers roughly the first half of the twentieth century and deals particularly with the issue of mass culture. So far in this class, we have spent some valuable time defining “popular culture” and exploring the ways even the “popular,” often aligned with “the people,” can still be understood to be split between “high” and “low,” “elite” and “folk” depending on the perspective from which it is experienced and/or viewed. In this chapter, though, Cullen adds an important element into the mix: mass circulation. As products of contemporary American culture, we are all used to the idea that movies, television shows, network news, newspapers and magazines reach vast numbers of people around the globe. But as Cullen makes clear, this was not always so. Just as the printing press made it possible for more people to have access to affordable books, new technological developments in recording and broadcasting technologies made it possible, during these years, for cultural products to be circulated more widely, and more quickly, than ever before. It is not surprising, then, that Cullen’s first three chapters begin by featuring images of people, while chapter four opens with the image of a projector—a mechanical device. While motion pictures and television are part of contemporary daily life, with hundreds of major motion picture releases every year, the first films were short and usually silent, meant to be accompanied by live orchestras in theatres. While Cullen focuses in his
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Lecture 3 Politics of Popular Culture - AMST203: Lecture...

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