The Birth of Popular Culture: Ben Jonson, Maid Marian, and Robin Hood

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Duquesne University Press, 1992 - Literary Criticism - 207 pages
"The Birth of Popular Culture: Ben Jonson, Maid Marian and Robin Hood explores the relationship between the profession of author and the discursive construction of "folk" or "popular" culture. Borrowing the tone of Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, Tom Hayes deconstructs the concept of the author as it appears in Ben Jonson's texts." "This approach to Jonson is unusual--indeed, revolutionary. Its theoretical underpinnings derive from Gramsci, Bakhtin, Foucault, Derrida, Clement and others. Hayes demonstrates how the creation of the authorial persona coincided with the spread of print and the rise of popular literacy. Jonson's authorial voice, then, embodies the contradictions and tensions between the various forms of domination in the courtly culture and the transgressive, disruptive and oppositional forces such as alchemy and witchcraft in the popular culture of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries." "Hayes diverges from the more traditional views that perceive the dominant culture as merely repressive of folk culture. He contends, on the other hand, that Jonson is the forerunner and, in effect, the prototype of the modern artist/intellectual who seeks to redefine the relationship between the dominant culture and popular culture. The Jonsonian model of the artist/intellectual, reconstructed by T.S. Eliot, is evident in paradigmatic texts of high modernism, such as Thomas Mann's Death in Venice. This concept, however, is now undergoing a profoundly antihumanist deconstruction, which may be seen in Manuel Puig's Kiss of the Spider Woman." "The theoretical language of The Birth of Popular Culture derives from several schools of critical theory and culture studies, including Marxism, post-structuralism and feminism. But unlike numerous theorists, Hayes is understandable, lucid, persuasive and more text-oriented. This study, perhaps more than any other, brings Jonson into the postmodern era and transforms our understanding of his works. Hayes provides a cogent balance of theoretical elaboration and textual explication, concentrating on the unfinished play Jonson was working on at the time of his death, The Sad Shepherd: Or, A Tale of Robin Hood." "While focusing on Jonson, this work will have much wider appeal, especially to literary theorists."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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