Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Quoted: Todd Gitlin on cultural studies; popular studies

[...] cultural studies worships at the shrine of the marketplace. its idea of the intellect's democratic commitment is to flatter the audience. Disdaining elitism, cultural studies helps erode the legitimacy of an intellectual life that cultivates assessments of value independent of popular taste. Trashing the canon, it deprives students of the chance -- for once in their lives -- to encounter culture that lives by values apart from the market. Whatever its radical gloss, cultural studies integrates itself nicely into a society that converts the need for distraction into one of its central industries and labels "critics" those arbiters of taste whose business is to issue shopping advice to restless customers. -- Todd Gitlin from Intellectuals and the Flag
Bolded mine. I think it's important to note -- and it's something I see rarely discussed -- that those who "trash the canon" are those with the greatest access to it. The ones the canon is tailored for are the ones who get to decide that the canon is irrevocably elitist, therefore, unfit for the poor plebs who should feel "underrepresented" by it.