Culture as defined by anthropologist Tylor; “is that complex whole which includes the knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. ” Greenblatt recognizes this definition as vague and more of a gesture towards other more specific cultures such as : “youth culture” or “human culture”. He makes his most definitive statement about culture when defining what it does not refer to- materials. Panegyric and satirical writing are both involved with the “praise and blame” of literature.
Panegyric takes on the “praise” by positively reinforcing societal structures. Whereas, satire plays the “blame” card working towards pointing out the faux pas of society. Cultivation is “the internalization and practice of a code of manners”. “Exchange” is the means in which mobility is achieved. It is the borrowing of plots and adaptations from other literary works; that aren’t necessarily a part of the writers culture. Exchange is the transmission of other cultures. Exchange reaches beyond the social “constraints” of society.
Culture is created through this “praise and blame” system that takes place both inside the text and also in society. Which works of literature are glorified and held up by a society? And which works of literature are looked down upon by society? Great artists are agents of mobility. Riding this in between zone of “praise and blame” — they represent the “and” the possibility of improvisations amongst a particular society. Literature in this sense is both a byproduct of culture but also literature aids in creating the social restraints of a culture.
These two concepts constantly reinforce each other in a circular way– making both the mobility and the constraints of culture a possibility. This idea of mobility and constraints also bring to mind the author’s intention. It seems to me that the author will inherently represent culture in his/her writing because that is what is known– that would be the part that wasn’t intended, the constraints of society. However, I think cultural exchange and mobility would have to of been intended by the author–the ideal vision of what they think the world should be like.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 6 October 2016
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