Monday, January 20, 2014

Levine, "Highbrow/Lowbrow" Study Questions

1.      Our current hierarchical system of cultural categories (highbrow, midbrow, lowbrow) seems fixed and immutable.  What cultural work is done by a historian who maintains these categories?
2.     What error might ensue?

Chapter 2
1.      What was the status of opera in Walt Whitman’s New York?
2.     What does the prevalence of parodies and arrangements suggest about a popular familiarity with opera?
3.     How had the perception of opera changed by the end of the 19th century?
4.    What was the relative status of bands and orchestras in the middle of the 19th century?
5.     When Jenny Lind, and other eminent European soloists, toured mid-century America, whom did they appeal to?  How did Adelina Patti’s experience differ?
6.    How were typical mid-century orchestra programs constructed?  How did sacralization affect this paradigm?
7.     How did Theodore Thomas manage to draw crowds for his New York concerts?  How did his philosophy change when he went to Chicago?
8.    Since the founding in the 19th century of our country’s major orchestras, what has remained their abiding fiscal reality?  Who now employs the Chicago Symphony’s funding model?  How has that funding model changed, if at all, over the last century?
9.    What are some of John Sullivan Dwight’s basic beliefs concerning the sacralization of art?
10.  Through art’s sacralization in the course of the late 19th century, what were some of the changes wrought in the public’s perception of music? musicians? the concert experience?
11.    After a hundred years’ time, which of these perceptions have remained in place?

 Chapter 3
1.      Faced with industrialization and increasing cultural diversity, how did America’s cultural elites respond at the end of the 19th century?
2.     How might one characterize 19th-century audiences?  To what extent did arbiters of culture attempt to modify audiences’ behavior, and succeed?
3.     What unintended consequences did more docile audiences create?
4.    To what ends did 19th-century champions of culture maintain and disseminate pure culture?
5.     How did the Columbian Exposition’s Midway Plaisance and White City symbolize a growing gulf in American culture?
6.    How was American culture perceived to compare with European examples?
7.     What racial and cultural dimensions did the ideology of culture assume?
8.    How did Matthew Arnold contribute to our understanding of Culture?
9.    How did our invented notions of culture conflict with reality?
10.  As cultural categories codified, how were new forms of expressive culture characterized?  With what results?

1.      What reactions have been provoked by the growth of cultural pluralism in the late 20th century?
2.     What is the logical fallacy of the cultural categories that we embrace?

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