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Reading "Culture" (Stephen Greenblatt)

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bruno scortegagna

on 26 September 2015

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Transcript of Reading "Culture" (Stephen Greenblatt)

Stephen Greenblatt
Reading Culture
Culture or Civilization
Tylor, 1871
Material Culture
Culture does not refer to material objects
themselves, but refer to them as they were
used by people.
There are many cultures
A culture is a particular network of
negotiations for the exchange of material
goods, ideas and people (through institutions
like enslavement, adoption or marriage)
How can culture do more work for us?
Constraint and Mobility
Cuture as a complex Whole
- Technology of control;
- Set of limits within which social
behavior must be contained,
- A repertoire of models to which individuals
must conform.
An awareness of culture as a
complex whole can help us to recover
that sense by leading us to reconstruct
the boundaries upon whose existence the
works were predicated
Culture & Literature
How cultural analysis can be done?
Texts are cultural because of
social values and contexts
If an exploration of a particular culture will lead to heightened understanding of a work of literature produced within that culture, so too a careful reading of a work of literature will lead to heightened understanding of the culture within which it was produced. The organization of this volume makes it appear that the analysis of culture is the servant of literary study, but in a liberal education broadly conceived it is literary study that is the servant of cultural understanding.
Work of literature
(literary study)
Literary study
Art is an important
agent in the transmission
of culture!
- If culture functions as a structure of
limits, it also functions as the regulator and
guarantor of movement. Indeed the limits are
virtually meaningless without movement; it is
only through improvisation, experiment, and exchange that cultural boundaries can be established.

- So, novels not only reflect the notion of
constraint and mobility; they help to
shape, articulate and reproduce it through
theyr own improvisatory intelligence.
(4th kind of culture)
Great writers are precisely
masters of these codes,
specialists in cultural
Writers take symbolic material from one zone of the culture and move them to another, augmenting their emotional force, altering their significance linking them with other materials taken from a different zone, changing their place in a larger social design.
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