Cultural Study Theory

Sample essay topic, essay writing: Cultural Study Theory - 558 words

Cultural Studies TheoryCultural criticism is a literary theory, which focuses not only on the historical origin of a piece of literature, but on its obvious social, political, and economic influences as well (Meyer 2034). When the culture or context is studied, the motives or tensions, which drive characters' behaviors, may be accounted for and studied (Crawford). Cultural critics use strategies such as deconstructionism, gender studies, new historicism, and psychology to analyze and evaluate pieces of work (Meyer 2128). Literary texts are not the only thing which cultural critics critique; in fact, they analyze a wide range of items from comic strips, to commercials, to radio talk shows (Meyer 2128). The term culture has been stretched and redefined to include the popular culture of today's modern day society, as well as the culture we associate with the so-called classics (Smith). Almost all-human activity is defined and influenced by culture, nothing is too minor or major, obscure or pervasive, to escape the range of its analytic vision (Meyer 2035).

A well-renowned theorist, Diana Trilling, was a cultural and social critic for over 50 years (Norman). She lived through the Great Depression, the rise and fall of Fascism and Communism, World War II, and Prohibition; Trilling clung to her old-fashion values (Norman). Her writing expressed her interest in esthetics, society, moral values, and the political issues of her day (Norman). Her work, which was published in many journals and magazines, displayed that she was a rationalist who believed all ideas should be grounded in not only rationality, but also morality (Norman). Unlike Diana Trilling, Marshall McLuhan was a famous cultural critic who enjoyed commenting on the more radical and obscure side of society (Skinner)

He often commented on the effect television had on children, and how "bookworms" were merely a thing of the past (Skinner). Walt Disney's version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was influenced a great deal by pop-culture in America, but, more importantly, the original story was influenced by the Germanic culture of the 1800's and 1900's. The pure fact that Snow White was the underdog who came out on top proves that this tale is of Germanic origin (O'Neil). The original story, and many others such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and the Little Red Riding Hood, was thought to feature too much raw, uncivilized content (O'Neil). When Walt Disney introduced Snow White in 1937, the story was portrayed in an 80 minute musical, and had been significantly altered to sweeten the material (O'Neil).

Disney also gave names and personalities to each of the seven dwarfs; the original version portrayed them as being one in the same (O'Neil). Disney's version of the tale showed many references to the culture of the 1930's. Many people believed that forests were thresholds through which the soul encountered the perils of the unknown; they were looked upon as dark and evil (O'Neil). Snow White was forced to run deep into the forest in order that her life might be spared from the huntsman, but doing so instilled a fear in the audience because of the negative stereotype placed on forests. The typical 1930's American housewife would cook, make the beds, wash clothes, sew, and do other odd jobs around the house (O'Neil). Snow White is seen as this type of woman because she participates in all these activities while the men are at work throughout the day (O'Neil).

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