Cover image for Trash culture : popular culture and the great tradition
Title:
Trash culture : popular culture and the great tradition
Author:
Simon, Richard Keller.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [1999]

©1999
Physical Description:
x, 189 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
Trash and literature -- Critical context -- Star wars and The faerie queen -- Trash talk show -- Friends, Seinfeld, and Days of our lives -- Tragedy, the Enquirer, and the critics -- Advertising and utopia -- Shopping mall and the formal garden -- Playboy and The book of the courtier -- Cosmopolitan and the woman's coming-of-age novel -- Star trek, Gulliver's travels, and the problem of history -- Great books in Vietnam -- Matthew Arnold meets Godzilla.
ISBN:
9780520216471

9780520222236
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Seinfeld as a contemporary adaptation of Etherege's Restoration comedy of manners The Man of Mode ?

Friends as a reworking of Shakespeare's romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing ?

Star Wars as an adaptation of Spenser's epic poem, The Faerie Queene ?

The popular culture that surrounds us in our daily lives bears a striking similarity to some of the great works of literature of the past. In television, movies, magazines, and advertisements we are exposed to many of the same stories as those critics who study the great books of Western literature, but we have simply been encouraged to look at those stories differently.

In Trash Culture , Richard K. Simon examines the ways in which the great literature and cultural work of the past has been rewritten for today's consumer society, with supermarket tabloids such as The National Enquirer and celebrity gossip magazines like People serving as contemporary versions of the great dramatic tragedies of the past. Today's advertising repeats the tale of the Golden Age, but inverts the value system of a classic utopia; the shopping mall combines bits and pieces of the great garden styles of Western history, and now adds consumer goods; Playboy magazine revises Castiglione's Renaissance courtesy book, The Book of the Courtier ; and Cosmopolitan magazine revises the women's coming-of-age novels of Jane Austen, Gustave Flaubert, and Edith Wharton.

Trash Culture concludes that the great books are alive and well, but simply hidden from the critics. It argues for the linking of high and low for the study and appreciation of each form of literature, and the importance of teaching popular culture alongside books of the great tradition in order to understand the critical context in which the books appear.


Summary

Seinfeld as a contemporary adaptation of Etherege's Restoration comedy of manners The Man of Mode ?

Friends as a reworking of Shakespeare's romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing ?

Star Wars as an adaptation of Spenser's epic poem, The Faerie Queene ?

The popular culture that surrounds us in our daily lives bears a striking similarity to some of the great works of literature of the past. In television, movies, magazines, and advertisements we are exposed to many of the same stories as those critics who study the great books of Western literature, but we have simply been encouraged to look at those stories differently.

In Trash Culture , Richard K. Simon examines the ways in which the great literature and cultural work of the past has been rewritten for today's consumer society, with supermarket tabloids such as The National Enquirer and celebrity gossip magazines like People serving as contemporary versions of the great dramatic tragedies of the past. Today's advertising repeats the tale of the Golden Age, but inverts the value system of a classic utopia; the shopping mall combines bits and pieces of the great garden styles of Western history, and now adds consumer goods; Playboy magazine revises Castiglione's Renaissance courtesy book, The Book of the Courtier ; and Cosmopolitan magazine revises the women's coming-of-age novels of Jane Austen, Gustave Flaubert, and Edith Wharton.

Trash Culture concludes that the great books are alive and well, but simply hidden from the critics. It argues for the linking of high and low for the study and appreciation of each form of literature, and the importance of teaching popular culture alongside books of the great tradition in order to understand the critical context in which the books appear.


Author Notes

Richard K. Simon is Professor of English and Chair of Humanities at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He is the author of The Labyrinth of the Comic: Theory and Practice from Fielding to Freud (1985).


Richard K. Simon is Professor of English and Chair of Humanities at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He is the author of The Labyrinth of the Comic: Theory and Practice from Fielding to Freud (1985).


Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Simon (English and humanities, California Polytechnic State Univ.) here maintains that great literature and popular entertainment evoke "comparable experiences." Painstakingly detailing the structures and ideas shared by popular culture and great literature, he compares modern supermarket tabloid and gossip magazine tragedies to the great tragic literature; TV talk shows, sitcoms, and soap operas to the history of the theater; and Star Wars, Star Trek, and Vietnam War movies to The Faerie Queen, Gulliver's Travels, and Homer. Likewise, advertising, shopping malls, and Playboy, he suggests, fulfill historic needs in modern context. A controversial and optimistic view of both literature and popular works, Simon's argument is carefully thought out and surprisingly convincing. Recommended for literature and communication collections.ÄGene Shaw, NYPL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal Review

Simon (English and humanities, California Polytechnic State Univ.) here maintains that great literature and popular entertainment evoke "comparable experiences." Painstakingly detailing the structures and ideas shared by popular culture and great literature, he compares modern supermarket tabloid and gossip magazine tragedies to the great tragic literature; TV talk shows, sitcoms, and soap operas to the history of the theater; and Star Wars, Star Trek, and Vietnam War movies to The Faerie Queen, Gulliver's Travels, and Homer. Likewise, advertising, shopping malls, and Playboy, he suggests, fulfill historic needs in modern context. A controversial and optimistic view of both literature and popular works, Simon's argument is carefully thought out and surprisingly convincing. Recommended for literature and communication collections.ÄGene Shaw, NYPL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
1 Trash and Literaturep. 1
2 The Critical Contextp. 14
Part 1 Case Studies
3 Star Wars and The Faerie Queenep. 29
4 The Trash Talk Showp. 38
5 Friends, Seinfeld, and Days of Our Livesp. 44
6 Tragedy, the Enquirer, and the Criticsp. 58
Part 2 Values
7 Advertising and Utopiap. 77
8 The Shopping Mall and the Formal Gardenp. 91
9 Playboy and The Book of the Courtierp. 101
10 Cosmopolitan and the Woman's Coming-of-Age Novelp. 117
Part 3 History
11 Star Trek, Gulliver's Travels, and the Problem of Historyp. 139
12 The Great Books in Vietnamp. 153
13 Matthew Arnold Meets Godzillap. 175
Works Citedp. 179
Indexp. 185
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
1 Trash and Literaturep. 1
2 The Critical Contextp. 14
Part 1 Case Studies
3 Star Wars and The Faerie Queenep. 29
4 The Trash Talk Showp. 38
5 Friends, Seinfeld, and Days of Our Livesp. 44
6 Tragedy, the Enquirer, and the Criticsp. 58
Part 2 Values
7 Advertising and Utopiap. 77
8 The Shopping Mall and the Formal Gardenp. 91
9 Playboy and The Book of the Courtierp. 101
10 Cosmopolitan and the Woman's Coming-of-Age Novelp. 117
Part 3 History
11 Star Trek, Gulliver's Travels, and the Problem of Historyp. 139
12 The Great Books in Vietnamp. 153
13 Matthew Arnold Meets Godzillap. 175
Works Citedp. 179
Indexp. 185