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Today I spent most of the day reading what turned out to be a very interesting book (though the title is a bit offputting): Towards a Working Class Canon: Literary Criticism in British Working Class Periodicals, 1816-1858.

Basically this is a fascinating study of what these periodicals valued in literature, which writers they promoted, who they hated, and the genres of writing they liked (apparently drama was not such a big hit with them and they are often quite nasty to Shakespeare - one person wrote three articles on how Brutus was a failed radical). It's really interesting to read about how their canon of authors really differed from that of the middle classes and how even when they overlapped they were obviously looking for totally different messages in these writers. So Milton is huge, especially his prose, but not at all as a religious writer.

The author talked about how the big three poetry writers for the writers of these journals were Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and Robbie Burns. When they commend the first two not infrequently it takes on the form 'why, they write so well of oppression they could be working class!' which I think is a nice turn around from the book I just read, which was all about the reverse attitude of the aristocracy to working class writers. (I loved the person who said that Shelley was the 'best thing the aristocracy had produced.') Unfortunately, the writer did not talk too much about the circulation of these journals (I suspect for a lot of them it's impossible to know), though he did point out that the middle class starting producing things like Penny Magazine in an effort to promote the right sort of knowledge for the lower orders, so some of them must have been popular enough

After that I went to look at some books on fandom and telly, which just made me cross. There's a certain awful smugness about a lot that gets produced on fandom and TV, as if the author feels so proud of their cutting edgeness they have to chuck it at you along with polysyllabic theoretical terms every line. I did find an article on how the Tardis control room was all about conservatism but I did not get the book out as it looked very annoying. The same for the book that was all about how people should feel guilty for enjoying soap operas because they are Opressive and Tools of Women's Destruction.

Date: 2006-08-15 12:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ex-architect873.livejournal.com
I did find an article on how the Tardis control room was all about conservatism

NOOOO!!! And, what?!

Date: 2006-08-15 03:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
It looked very silly so I only had a quick flick. I think it was something about opression and looking the same and never really changing.

Date: 2006-08-15 04:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bluekermit.livejournal.com
That book sounds really interesting.

If you're really interested in the circulation numbers, I'm sure someone out there wrote a thesis on it...

Date: 2006-08-15 05:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
It actually was for something with a really boring title. Some of the quotations from the journals were really fascination (especially the attacks on Walter Scott).

The thesis thing is a good idea...there is always a thesis on everything.

BTW, how are the sleep patterns going?

Date: 2006-08-15 01:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bluekermit.livejournal.com
You call it a boring title, I'm a Communications Studies major? graduate? did my 4 years of uni in it... and it sounds like something I'd choose :D Actually, when I was doing my Journalism post-grad (that I didn't finish, for several reasons), that truly sounds like something someone would want to do, and be told "save it for the Masters" :p One of my colleagues worked in regional press, and did write his final paper (can't quite call it a thesis...) on regional press and the Catholic Church. Given our astounding illiteracy rate untill... well, the 80s, I can't say we actually had working class periodicals... the market could barely hold a couple of them...

Sleep? Thank you! It's going good, I'm sort of taking a vacation time at my parents', alone :)


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