High Theory/Low Culture

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In High Theory/Low Culture, Mikita Brottman uses the tools of "high" cultural theory to examine many areas of today's popular culture, including style magazines, sports, shopping, tabloid newspapers, horror movies and pornography. In doing so, she not only demonstrates the practical use of "high" theory as it relates to our everyday world, but she also investigates the kinds of "low" culture that are regularly dismissed by academic scholars. Through a close examination of these cultural forms, Brottman reveals how the kinds of popular culture that we usually take for granted are, in fact, far more complex and sophisticated than is normally assumed.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"In this brilliant book, Mikita Brottman penetrates the surface of pop culture texts, from magazines and tabloids, to horror movies and erotic flicks, to provide a truly discerning theory as to why people respond so emotionally to them. Unlike the bland, trendy, pseudo-sophisticated critiques of pop culture by many academic pundits that now saturate the bookstands, Brottman shows that popular forms of entertainment are emotionally powerful because of their capacity for being infinitely meaningful at different levels of psychic life, from the sacred to the profane...Brottman's book is both witty and insightful. It is, in the jargon of pop culture, a 'great read.'"--Marcel Danesi, University of Toronto

"Too many academic studies of popular culture are fans' tracts masquerading as serious analysis. Not this one. Acknowledging the problems as well as the pleasures to be had in consuming popular culture, this book is for anyone who wants to work through those ambivalent feelings in order to enjoy the pleasures more fully, rather than just relaxing into uncritical fandom. In writing High Theory/Low Culture Mikita Brottman has done us all a real favor."--Andrew Blake, University College Winchester

"High Theory/Low Culture tackles the question of how people actually enjoy and appreciate popular culture. Mikita Brottman sidesteps condemnations of 'the popular', instead focusing positively on everyday, ordinary aesthetics. Eclectic case studies, ranging from football fans to pornography, showcase to striking effect the work of key theorists such as Bakhtin, Barthes, and Lacan. Highlighting the complexities of low culture, and downsizing the difficulties of high theory, this is a skillful introduction to the study of popular culture's pleasures."--Matt Hills, author of Fan Cultures and The Pleasures of Horror
"High Theory/Low Culture, which is less defensive of pop culture, but works to apply the art of high criticism and theory to the often gutterized world of fashion magazines, tabloids and horror movies." --Chip Ross, Blogcritics.org

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403966414
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 3/1/2005
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Mikita Brottman is Professor of Language and Literature, Maryland Institute College of Art. She is the editor of Car Crash Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2001) and author of three books on the horror film.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : popular culture and its critics
1 Carnival and chronotope : Bakhtin and style magazines 1
2 Joyful mayhem : Bakhtin and football fans 21
3 Rumor, gossip, and scandal : Barthes and tabloid rhetoric 35
4 "The last stop of desire" : Roland Barthes goes shopping 57
5 Blueprints and bodies : Lacan and the pornographic imagination 81
6 Dark homecomings : Lacan and horror fictions 107
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