The Aesthetics of Cultural Studies: An Introduction

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Traditionally a professional musician was one who made a profit and a living by selling or performing music.

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In the past, this was made possible through the affiliation of a major record label, because without a corporation's support, it was hard for musicians to make a living. However, with the ubiquity of social networking sites today, another type of professional category has emerged, which involves earning a living by having one's own record label or selling music on social networking sites.

To this end, the categories of professional and amateur are not strictly separated. The binary also relates to the designations of producer and consumer. Every musician involved with the social networking sites can sell their music while simultaneously being consumers of other musicians' music.

In years past, the mass media produced mass arts that were accessible to the public, whereas high art often existed in a niche market. With the proliferation of mass media outlets, high art was not associated with popularity but with a smaller coterie of followers. On social networking sites such as Myspace, Adorno's conception of 'high arts' coexists with mass-produced popular and commercial arts.

Many profiles have been created to honor the greatest composers that have ever lived, including the modern composers of today. The popularity of both classical music and popular trends is evident on these websites.

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On social networking sites, one can hardly detect the line between these two cultures. The reason for this is due to the characteristics of the networks.

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As Terranova notes, one cannot just surf the network in an isolated way; this truth also applies to one's behavior online. A person can hardly escape exposure to the various genres of music when he or she is participating in a social network. In addition, the notion of underground and mainstream is negated to a certain extent because all users entering the social networking sites are in the same 'place. According to Levy, 'the virtual tends toward actualization, without undergoing any form of effective or formal concretization' As such, virtuality connotes a state of unfulfillment and underdevelopment when compared to the actual; however, virtuality involves the on-going progress toward becoming actual.

If this is the case, what happens to virtual live music performances that simultaneously take place in actual settings? For instance, Virtual Lower East Side VLES is a social networking site where musicians and fans can interact with one another in a virtual world through the use of avatars. The noteworthy aspect of this site is the fact that it is a simulacra of the actual neighborhood of the Lower East Side in New York City. While musicians perform in one of the popular venues in this neighborhood, their performances are simultaneously broadcasted on the VLES. The notions of virtuality and actuality are completely blurred on social networking sites such as vles.

In a similar vein, secondlife.

The Aesthetics of Cultural Studies

To this end, while the concerts are performed live, they are mediated via the internet, and the interaction occurs with avatars. In short, the performances are computer-mediated; this reality invokes another issue in regards to live performances vs.

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Enter the email address you signed up with and we'll email you a reset link. For other permission, please contact hbooks mail. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Deleuze, Gilles. Youth in a suspect society: Democracy or disposability? Plato encouraged art education that would influence the development of youth taste in ways that would support the state.

Instead of setting forth the concepts in a polarizing way, understanding the ever-changing environment on the social networking sites should occur in a multi-faceted manner. In short, if binaries are no longer applicable and true, what happens? At this juncture, we will revisit the earlier discussion of aesthetics in the plane of immanence as presented by Deleuze and Guattari.

In a plane of immanence, aesthetics are conceived as 'affects. In other words, Deleuze and Guattari seek to interpret the works of art not by questioning what they are by trying to decode meaning and representation; instead they are interested in art's function, what it does. O'Sullivan notes that Deleuze and Guattari's affects are 'not to do with signification or "meaning" as such. Indeed, they occur on a different asignifying register' In short, unlike understanding art as an object, as most art historians and theorists have done, in Deleuze and Guattari's framework, the work of art escapes its object and subject.

Deleuze and Guattari's 'rhizome' concept escapes this type of binary thinking. The rhizome is, thus, a critique of representation and of the arborescent way of constructing knowledge; it also allows for multiplicities. In "A Thousand Plateaus," Deleuze and Guattari explain the six characteristics of the rhizome in detail. By reflecting on these characteristics, we can apply it to the way the network operates and the manner in which aesthetics can be conceptualized in a plane of immanence. In doing so, we can wrestle with the binaries that exist on the social networking sites at a macro level as well as at a micro level.

This effort entails understanding the mundane activities that power the social networking websites: the processes related to networking with music. The intricate concept of the rhizome will help provide a conceptual tool whereby the cartography of cultural studies' relationship with aesthetics and the social networks can be mapped. In addition, the rhizome model has also been applied to a new way of conceiving cultural studies: 'thinking cultural studies as rhizome involves an affirmation of the former's inter disciplinary, or even trans disciplinary function; it removes blockages and opens up to other adventures, other voyages' O'Sullivan, In this vein, it is not a far-fetched idea to establish an encompassing view of aesthetics, cultural studies and social networking sites as simultaneous rhizomes.

Unlike trees or roots, a rhizome is like a social network that connects various entities into a network and has a capacity to remain connected to everyone in network. Furthermore, Deleuze and Guattari state that 'a rhizome ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relevant to the arts, sciences, and social struggle' 7. This implies that social network cannot function without connection with others.

Social networks require the user to create one's own network resulting in creative connectivity, and in doing so, social power and significance are formed. In terms of music networking sites, the bottom-up way of building one's network can allow one's music to gain more recognition and value.

O' Sullivan notes that 'it is in this sense that a rhizomatic might then be characterized as the practice of the amateur involving as it does a certain bricolage, or "Do-It-Yourself," logic' The music social networking sites are built with the premise that the artist has sole control over the music through working as a solitary agent. O' Sullivan further notes that many on-line artistic collaborations are symptomatic of these first and second characteristics of rhizome. When binaries no longer apply to social networking sites, what is the alternative to map out the activities and cultural trend on social networking sites?

On social networking sites, the operation is not static but transient and always in progress:. By adding a friend to your network or by having a friend post messages in your commentary boxes, the activities on social networking sites are constantly in flux and movement. In addition, there are many ways for one to customize one's page and upload new music.

Any time a member steps into another's social network, there is always a potential for a new relationship and new networking connections, all of which can change the dynamic within one's network.

37 Cultural Studies of Youth Culture Aesthetics as Critical Aesthetic Education

In an environment of such unpredictability and evolution, it is possible to make one's artist's page look professional and popular, or the reverse could happen, and apathy and indifference for one's music or network can be conveyed. The disconnection on social networking sites are never terminal, a user can always find a way to reconnect with the members who have deleted one's profile, and one can easily regain a profile that has been deleted. There are many ways to relocate the old profiles of your friends even if one is not directly connected to the network; this course may involve traveling through a couple of networks to reach one's final desired destination.

O' Sullivan compares this characteristic with the operation of artists and art practices:. On social networks, the operations of art practices cannot be understood in terms of whether or not such activities yield good results. Instead of examining the art object itself, the alternative is to analyze the processes of linking and connecting with other artists or audiences.

An independent artist may attempt to connect with another artist for potential collaboration, or may seek a potential promoter or manager for one's artwork. To this extent, art practices on social networking sites could be viewed as 'less the name for an object or a discipline as such but again a name for a function of deterritorialization' O' Sullivan, Deleuze and Guattari explain that 'rhizome is altogether different, a map not a tracing These last two characteristics prove that rhizomes do not merely repeat or reproduce what already exists; rather, a rhizome creates through the act of experimentation.

As Deleuze and Guattari further explain, 'the map does not reproduce an unconscious closed in upon itself; it constructs the unconscious' The incorporation of an aesthetic discussion into the research on social networking sites does not rely on focusing on the quality of music by deconstructing its essence, neither does it concentrate on the physical attractiveness of one's profile; instead, what it requires is concentration on aesthetics' constant movement and creativity.

Social networking sites, especially the ones catering to cultural production, mutate constantly because of the creative process.

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They are never in stasis but always in movement. There is no single way that one can trace the manner in which the field of cultural production on social networking sites operates and functions because of its transient character.

The conflict is caused by an ideological difference of conceiving culture. While Williams insists on the ordinariness of culture, other scholars have attempted to challenge such views by arguing for an inclusive view of culture where ordinariness and extraordinariness both exist. In such a conception, aesthetics offer alterity, potential resistance, and transcendence. However, I argue that it is this transcendent view of aesthetics that has been problematic for many, because it invokes the idea of imposing universal standards of beauty and art onto others, the hegemonic.

To resolve this issue, it is necessary to take a different philosophical route for understanding aesthetics. Contrary to transcendental aesthetics, positing aesthetics in a plane of immanence entails a breakdown of the subject-object division and requires resistance to a sole concentration on the representation and interpretation of arts; instead, we should focus on aesthetics' mode of operation. In a plane of immanence, aesthetics are conceived in a different register, an asignifying one. Aesthetics should not be promoted as an ideology, but it should be considered a realm that is always in flux and that produces affects. As Guattari states:.

Preface by Paul Willis

The Aesthetics of Cultural Studies: An Introduction and millions of other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more. Enter your mobile number or email . View Table of Contents for The Aesthetics of Cultural Studies Introduction: Engaging the Aesthetic (Pages: ). Michael Bérubé. Summary.

With this view in mind, the new method of engaging cultural studies has been described through the case study of social networking sites. The macro level places aesthetics in a conceptual framework. Unlike the ideological framework, the aesthetic paradigm focuses on creation and experimentation. On the other hand, the micro level deals with the works of art on social networking sites, emphasizing how artworks on the websites emerge and gain value via rhizomatic connection—through constant web movement: upgrading personal profiles, leaving comments on others' profiles, requesting friends to become a part of one's network, uploading music, soliciting others' profiles with advertising, etc.

Thus, interpreting what occurs on the social networking sites as a mere reflection of a static social networking site cannot do it justice because in the field of cultural production of social networking sites, the constant struggles and political tension go on in the process of gaining value and popularity of one's works.

The cultural studies' scholar cannot ever totally complete a research project interpreting or reflecting the movement on social networking sites, because the subject of study remains in constant flux. The individual profiles within the social networks as well as the social network domains such as slusic.