Roll Over Beethoven / Edition 1

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The question of culture has become central for a new generation of scholars raised in a world of television and mass production. At the same time debates about culture have become a point of reference for criticism of current trends in academia and society, variously defended or derided on the grounds of “multiculturalism,” “canonicity,” and political correctness.” In his re-examination off these debates, Stanley Aronowitz traces the history of the cultural issue – in both its British and American manifestations – and relates it to the contemporary rethinking of the nature of knowledge and culture.

Roll Over Beethoven analyzes topics as diverse as the history of American radicalism, the sociology if science, the impact of the Library of Congress on the organization of knowledge, and the institutionalization of film studies. Aronowitz’s account of recent controversies over “political correctness” reveals that the current culture wars reflect profound differences among scholars over the proper role of the university and the character of legitimate intellectual knowledge.

Within this broad reappraisal of the cultural question, which is embedded in the intellectual history of the 20th century, Aronowitz offers an “interpretive genealogy” of cultural studies that describes both the evolution of the field and the political and social contexts in which it developed. He argues that cultural studies exhibit a tendency toward transgression that is rarely explicit but always present and, at its best, not merely interdisciplinary but anti-disciplinary.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Aronowitz has become one of the most interesting intellectuals on the contemporary scene. His latest work traces the emergence of ‘Cultural Studies’ and emphasizes its invigorating impact on the humanities and social sciences. Written in an entertaining and informative style, it could become the book that helps introduce large numbers of readers to the exciting new field of cultural interpretation”—Library Journal
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this ``interpretive genealogy of cultural studies,'' sociologist Aronowitz ( The Politics of Identity ) offers a history of this field with an eye toward examining how the nature of intellectual knowledge is defined. Though the book meanders from present-day politics to the historical debate over ``high'' and ``low'' culture to the role of the New Left in popular culture, Aronowitz's style is fairly accessible. Some arguments are undeveloped, as when he urges the Left to vigorously support the First Amendment but then suggests that ``any community has a right to set limits on what it considers acceptable speech.'' In a chapter on the cultural politics of the Popular Front, Aronowitz offers an engaging memoir of his Bronx boyhood, recalling his rich encounters with classical and popular music and his study of political economy at a Communist Party school; he then analyzes novels and plays of the era, defending them against charges of populist oversimplification. After addressing current debates over the idea of an academic ``canon,'' he notes that ``virtually any significant educational innovation already has a history somewhere in the annals of the American academic system.'' (Apr.)
Library Journal
Through his books on the labor movement, social theory, education theory, and the politics of science, Aronowitz has become one of the most interesting intellectuals on the contemporary scene. His latest work traces the emergence of ``Cultural Studies'' and emphasizes its invigorating impact on the humanities and social sciences. Written in an entertaining and informative style, Roll Over Beethoven could become the book that helps introduce large numbers of readers to the exciting new field of cultural interpretation. Individual chapters explore such topics as ``high'' versus ``low'' culture, culture and politics in the 1930s, the state of popular culture in contemporary America, and the relationship of cultural studies to the literary and philosophical canon. Along the way, Aronowitz offers a sophisticated critique of the revanchist critics of the modern university (Allan Bloom, William Bennett, et al.). This is a first-rate text that deserves the widest possible readership.-- Kent Worcester, Social Science Research Council, New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780819562623
  • Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/1993
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

STANLEY ARONOWITZ is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Cultural Studies Program at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Among his books are The Politics of Identity (1992), Science as Power (1988), The Crisis in Historical Materialism (1981), and, with Henry Giroux, Postmodern Education (1991).

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Table of Contents

On the Politically Correct
Culture Between High and Low
The Origins of Cultural Studies
British Cultural Studies
Cultural Politics of Popular Front
Cultural Study in Postmodern America
The Authority of Knowledge
The End of the Beginning?

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