S-Space Researcher Institutes (연구소) American Studies Institute (미국학연구소) 미국학 미국학 Volume 34 Number 1/2 (2011)
“You’ve Been with the Professors”: Influence, Appropriation, and the Cultural Interpretation of Bob Dylan
- Meikle, Jeffrey L.
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 미국학연구소
- 미국학, Vol.34 No.1, pp. 285-310
- Sean Wilentz, Bob Dylan in America. New York: Doubleday, 2010. 390 pp., 99 b..w illus., index.
Greil Marcus, Bob Dylan: Writings 1968-2010. New York: PublicAffairs, 2010. xx, 483 pp, 14 b&w illus., index.
- American Studies as a discipline, at least as practiced in the United States, has sometimes attracted criticism that it encourages narcissistic navel-gazing by a culture whose socioeconomic base is affluent enough to afford that luxury. This complaint is especially prevalent in attacks on scholars who direct their attention to popular examples of the products of mass culture. A former colleague of mine, or example, often aimed sarcastic barbs at people who “write about their record collections.” At the least, he believed, such unprofessional scholars are too lazy to look beyond narrow personal interests; at worst, they project their own guilty pleasures onto the larger culture in a solipsistic gesture motivated by self-justification. Although my colleague’s opinion reflected a bitter, ultimately dismissive attitude toward recent scholarship on contemporary mass culture, there is indeed a gray area where celebrity worship, fanboy obsession, and personal desire to claim cultural capital may blur traditional notions of scholarship’s neutral objectivity. Attempts to overcome such attacks often seek to prove by applying audience or reception theory that popular culture products do have substantive impact on the lives of those who consume them. That defense may appear questionable not only because reception is notoriously difficult to measure but also because critical theory’s densely-worded, jargon-laden arguments may seem like self-serving obfuscation to readers already inclined to be skeptical of serious claims for popular or mass culture.
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