Culture/Metaculture (The New Critical Idiom) by Francis Mulhern

By Francis Mulhern

Culture/Metaculture is a stimulating creation to the meanings of 'culture' in modern Western society. This crucial survey examines:

* tradition as an antidote to 'mass' modernity, within the paintings of Thomas Mann, Julien Benda, José Ortega y Gasset, Karl Mannheim and F. R. Leavis
* altering perspectives of the time period within the paintings of Sigmund Freud, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, T. S. Eliot and Richard Hoggart
* post-war theories of 'popular' tradition and the increase of Cultural stories, paying specific realization to the major figures of Raymond Williams and Stuart Hall
* theories of 'metaculture', or the ways that tradition, besides the fact that outlined, speaks of itself.

Francis Mulhern's interdisciplinary method permits him to attract out the attention-grabbing hyperlinks among key political concerns and the altering definitions of tradition. the result's an unrivalled creation to an idea on the center of latest serious thought.

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Published in 1932, Freud 1985: 341–62). Ortega’s initiative was more confined in scale, but, if anything, more practical in intent. In 1931, he entered the parliament of the new Spanish republic as part of the Agrupación al Servício de la República, the collective ‘man of culture’ in political form (Preston 1987: 89). Mannheim, thwarted by the triumph of German fascism, fled to Britain and there, in the later 1930s, launched a second attempt to nurture his ‘forum’ into practical being. In 1938, the Church of England’s Christian Council on Faith and the Common Life created the Moot, something like a national version of Valéry’s ‘exchange’, involving intellectuals in seminars and publishing ventures designed to bring their corporate wisdom to bear on the modern crisis, to saturate politics with thought (Kojecký 1971: 163–97; Steele 1997: 98–117).

These professions of faith were in all cases minoritarian. The course of history seemed irresistible. Pessimism was the characteristic feeling of the texts – not excluding the relatively sanguine Mannheim’s – as they surveyed the repellent evidences of mass society. Yet only Benda counselled withdrawal as a normal response to contemporary disorder, and, even in arguing so, he appealed to assumptions that united him with his most activist counterparts. All five writers concurred in their revulsion from contemporary politics, and in terms that were not themselves politically partisan in any ordinary sense.

A ‘forum’ indeed, the Moot was always politically miscellaneous, placid in the manner of its Anglican sponsor, embracing several varieties of conservative, liberal and socialist. S. Eliot’s Notes Towards the Definition of Culture ([1948] 1962), a work which, ironically, dedicated itself to refuting Mannheimian and kindred visions of culture and society. Leavis’s ‘movement in education’ was, in its way, more successful than any of its cognates. His practical scheme for the institutional ascendancy of English literary studies, although coming to nothing as policy, served as a pattern of individual mission for a generation of teachers.

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