Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Eloisa James GuestBlog: The Low Down on High Culture

Even though this NY Times bestseller is a mom, wife, author, and university prof, Eloisa James is never too busy to hang with readers. Which is why it's especially nice to have her visit us again, but this time with her thinkin cap on.

Smart, funny, nice, pretty -- and she even has a special contest for you! One lucky commenting Bella wins an ARC of "Pleasure for Pleasure," courtesy of Eloisa! Oh, but it's a marvelous novel. So, please...a warm Bella welcome for our friend, Eloisa. Professora, the podium is yours...

Hi everybody!

The only problem with following up Eric's terrific blog is that I don't actually teach romance
I teach Shakespeare. This semester I'm teaching Shakespeare and Popular Culture, a course that investigates the ways that Shakespeare leaks into ads, rap songs, movies, and TV shows.

The class has been trying to figure out how to define pop culture. One way to think of it is everything left over after we define "high" culture. This rings true to me when it comes to romance – and I think it also helps point to why romance is so looked down on in our society. Back in the days when Shakespeare was writing, he was decidedly a pop writer. Have you seen Shakespeare in Love? Kit Marlowe was considered a much better writer than Shakespeare—just as depicted in the movie.

But in the late 18th century, Shakespeare's plays started moving from the stage to the page; in other words, people started saying that the plays had to be "studied" in order to be enjoyed. Before long, "high" culture was defined as hard to understand, and "low" culture was easy to enjoy. Never mind the fact that Shakespeare had always been easy to enjoy and enjoyable. Obviously, romance is too easy and fun to be "high culture."

Still, today's "low" may be tomorrow's "high," just as with Shakespeare. Comic books are "low" – except when they suddenly get labeled "graphic" novels – and then they're "high"! How about Elvis Presley? How low could his hips go? And yet now he's an American classic.

My next novel, Pleasure for Pleasure, is not only named after a Shakespeare play (Measure for Measure), the whole plot is inflected by A Midsummer Night's Dream. If that's not high, what is? And yet…it's Mayne's turn to marry – surely that particular story is going to be "low" (*grin*)!


In honor of my particular effort to blur the boundaries between high and low, we're giving away one advance review copy of Pleasure for Pleasure from among the commentators.

So please put your mind to this puzzle…Who or what have you seen go from the bottom of the cultural barrel to the top? What genre, performer, musician, text would you bet on moving up, going from low to high?

84 comments:

Laura Vivanco said...

I wonder if, particularly now that 'popular culture' is studied by academics (so that 'high culture' can't just be defined as 'what academics/intellectuals deem to be of high quality'), 'high culture' being produced today is getting forced into a position where it's 'unpopular culture' i.e. culture which is self-consciously not setting out to be popular.

Alternatively, one could argue that what's 'high' art is only discernable after many years have passed, because if a work of literature or art is still appreciated after a couple of centuries that demonstrates that it has enduring value. But of course in actual fact, the processes which ensure the survival of literature and art are complex, and often there's a good deal of chance involved. There are many 'good' artists whose work will be pretty much unknown because either they didn't have much appeal in their own day, or because they don't have much appeal in ours. That could be strongly affected by prejudices (e.g. women writers have tended, historically, not to get so much attention from literary critics, just as women tended not to appear so often in histories). So, there are fashions in 'high' culture too.

As for what's going up, from high to low, that's difficult to say because there are now academics studying 'popular culture' so the process of moving something from 'low' to 'high' can occur very swiftly. Buffy and Buffy Studies are an example of that. Whether, in the long term, Buffy will continue to be studied, is another matter. And it does depend on your definition of 'high' and 'low', and the extent to which academics are seen as the experts who determine what is, or isn't, culturally valuable.

rachd said...

Yay yay yay yay yay!! I'm able to post before I head out!! Fangrl alert: I just LOVE everything you have *EVER* written, Eloisa!!!!!!!

Okay, all over now. I'm so glad you could come and play, I just wish I was going to be able to keep up throughout the day.

I'm going to have to give the question some thought and come back and post this evening. I've got to get outta here and head down the road to work.

Have a great day everyone! =)

Stacy~ said...

tI've recently, within the last 6mos to a year, started reading your books, and I'm just as impatient as everyone else to read "PFP".

Eloisa, I also love the fact you're a professor who writes romances, because to the "outside" world (those who turn up their noses at romances) it lends a intellectual air to the romance genre. It proves to them that authors who write romance are smart and passionate and love what they do. Not that any of us need convincing, but it does feel like it gives some validation. Now that more and more romances are hitting the NYT list, it's like a nice "told you so" to those naysayers LOL. Thank you for writing such great books. Love the Squawkers, too :)

Hmmm I gave your question some thought, though 6am is not the best time for thinking. What came to mind first, because I am a reality t.v. snob (don't really care for it), is "American Idol". We've had 3 contestants so far whom really have made a name for themselves, starting out at the bottom - everything from their image to their singing - and ending up with record contracts and going out on tours. Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, and Carrie Underwood. I think all 3 have proven to be more than a flash in the pan, which says more than any of those other reality shows. Oh, I forgot to mention Josh Gracen - I think he did the country music version of A.I.

I hope that answers the question. I'm off to work. Have fun kids :)

PJ said...

Good question. I'll have to give it some thought while I'm in the shower. I do my best thinking there. (grin)

Stacy, Josh Gracen was on the regular version of American Idol. He didn't make the same spash as others but he's been steadily gaining in popularity. I agree that AI has become a pop culture phenomenon and has certainly been instrumental in launching successful careers of unheard of singers, as witnessed by Kelly's grammys and Carrie's recently earned CMA awards, as well as several other reality talent shows on TV.

I'm one of Eloisa's many admirers over at her bulletin board and have been anxiously awaiting the November release of PFP. You're a wonderful writer Eloisa, and an even nicer person, as those of us who were fortunate to spend time with you in Atlanta can attest. I just know Josie (and Mayne's, hope hope) story will be your best one yet!

PJ...a devoted Bon Bon girl

ev said...

Stacy- No, Josh Gracin was on AI, and voted off. Right after that he finished up his stint in the Marines amd was signed to a label in Nashville. He's good too. Seen him.
I agree with your comments about AI, and probably would apply them to Survivor and that other gross one. I don't watch much reality TV either.
What about flash in the pan's such as Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie? They come out of no where, don't really do anything, but they are the A list for Hollyweird. Go figure.

Elosie- I have never read any of your books. But then, thanks to this blog and another, I have been finding a plethora of authors to add to my tbr list, which makes fun and informative to be here. On the other hand, my daughter would love to take a class about Shaespear, such as yours, or even a Poe one. I might enjoy one too.

Will check in later to see what else everyone else comes up with. this should be fun.

Stacy~ said...

LOL. Thanx guys. Told you I wasn't an A.I. fan. I do know some country singer was on the country version of A.I. and got a contract - thought it was him. My bad.

Amen on Hollywood socialites, though Paris does have an album out, and I do like "Stars Are Blind". It's a good song, if a bit arrogant, but hey, there are lots of people (guys!) who love her.

Now I'm outta here. Work beckons...

Eloisa James said...

hi everybody!

I just have to add that there are lots of different ways to define "pop culture"--one of them, as Laura says, is essentially "consciously unpopular." Difficult. It's such a fascinating topic, because often works do set out to be difficult--to those outside their target audience. In other words, difficulty itself is often a question of the socio/economic/racial group generating the text. Think about rap, for example. Certain groups would see it as difficult and other was crystal clear.

Like Buffy and American Idol, rap is getting a lot of study from academics. Of course, this may just reflect desperation by academics *g* -- there are so many Shakespeare articles!

Eloisa

Rose Healey said...

Saying who will go from low to high is tough without knowing which publicity machine is behind the artist or the product. I think the only certainty is that artists and products will go inevitably go from low to high because of PR strategies.

Laura Vivanco said...

Of course, this may just reflect desperation by academics *g* -- there are so many Shakespeare articles!

That could be part of it, but I also think it's that newer texts may be saying things which are interesting. In some ways you could argue that the great themes - love, death, war, prejudice, pride - never change, that they're universal, so one could just stick with the classics. And that's true, up to a point. But how these things are expressed varies according to the historical period, the society and sub-culture of the author, and, of course, something unique to that author.

One way round the gap in comprehension that can be produced by cultural/historical distance is to 'update' Shakespeare by staging his work in ways which make clear his relevance to modern life. Another is to teach students enough about Shakespeare's time and his use of English so that they can appreciate what he was saying in the original and understand the political, social and literary context of his works.

But, to get people thinking about the same issues, one can also take the texts/forms of entertainment that they already read/watch and get them to look at the ideas in those.

It really depends what the purpose of studying is. Do we study literature for what it can tell us about the past, or for what it can tell us about ourselves? And if the latter, do we do that just by comparing our culture with past cultures, or can we also do that by looking more closely at contemporary culture? Maybe the study of popular culture, by taking texts/films etc which seem easily accessible, introduces people to thinking critically/academically. Expecting people to do multiple difficult things at once (i.e. both approach texts written in a strange form of English and think about it in ways they haven't thought before) may be very off-putting. Maybe it's easier for some people to start with texts whose words they can readily understand, and which make reference to a culture they already understand? I think that's possibly the case.

I think all these approaches are valid, interesting and enjoyable. And I do think it's very important that studying should be enjoyable. Maybe not all the time, but certainly a fair part of the time.

Playground Monitor said...

Chiming in here from the state that's produced 2 Idols and a runner-up (Alabama and Reuben Studdard, Taylor Hicks and Bo Bice for the non AI folks in the audience).

I don't really follow pop culture that much. Heck, half the people you gals mention I don't even know so I have to Google them. In my day, Star Trek was the pop culture phenom. It barely made a blip on the TV radar during its first run. Now Christie's is getting ready to auction off props from the show and they're expected to go for bazillions. Well... maybe not that much.

I think ballroom dancing has seen a resurgence in popularity because of "Dancing with the Stars." I know my hubby and I took ballroom classes earlier this year, something we'd talked about for years and were prompted to do by DWTS. Now we sit and critique the performances each week -- well, as well as we can critique given our very basic knowledge. Plus, it's good exercise and has been shown to lessen the chances of developing Alzheimer's Disease. And I'm all for that!

I'm going to be interested to see how e-books do. Personally I don't like them. I like paper in my hand. Manga is another one I'm interested in kinda watching given I have a baby granddaughter and I've vowed to be her "Book Grammy." I already have an autographed copy of Meg Cabot's THE PRINCESS DIARIES for her. *g* And I saved all her daddy's good books and will have those here at my house to read. But I see kids at the book store simply devouring those Mangas and I am amazed. I don't see the appeal, but I'm an old lady. *g* I guess if it gets them to read, it's a good thing?

Marilyn - who hasn't read anything by Eloisa either but who rode in the elevator with her in Atlanta

MaryKate said...

First, hi Eloisa! Thanks so, so much for joining us her at RBtB, I really can't wait for Mayne's book!

Well, I am a huge pop culture junkie. The one instance that this brought to mind for me is Hugh Grant. Remember when he was caught with a hooker in his car while engaged to one of the most beautiful women on the planet, Elizabeth Hurley? He went on Leno, took his medicine and rehabbed his image in just about two seconds. So he dropped to the bottom of the barrel and rose right back up to the top.

Eloisa - I'm wondering in your classes do you teach teen movies that use Shakespearen stories to illustrate your points? TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU (based on the Taming of the Shrew) is one of my all time favorite movies. It actually stays quite close to the play, but is completely full of pop culture phenomena, including a high school principal who is a budding romance author.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Eloisa! You've already classed up the joint. Well, not that the Bellas need improving upon, but I always can use a little polish from time to time.

Laura, you do make a valid assumption about the consciously unpopular. It speaks of the vanguard In Crowd, who manage to be sharp enough to latch on to an interesting trend in fashion, music, art (by necessity, popular when viewed in real time), only to become at lightning speed, "so in, they're out."

Do you not think that academics studying the popular doesn't make it immediately "high," but does speak to the increasing allowance for individuals to behave as just that, individuals? We no longer expect our brightest minds to belong to stuffy personalities, and much of that has to do with exactly what you mention -- spin and pr. Why, just take a gander at our Harvard prof from a few days ago, Nima "I'm too sexy for the multiverse," Arkani-Hamed.

Forever more, everything will be about spin. It's just unfortunate that romance fiction is popular largly with women, because we won't soon turn the tide on women's work being considered secondary.

Add to that we contend with women who consider romance fiction less worth than "women's fiction," and "chick-lit," and the fact that women are notoriously non-supportive of one another (not here, of course), and we stand before the base of the hill and battle on, upward.

Thank goodness we've got great novels like Eloisa's to read when the going gets tough. Did I mention just how great Mayne's story is? :)

(oh, and you remind my of my personal prejudice, Laura. I hate modern Shakespeare flicks w/ modern music scoring, but love subtitles and perfs in English that bring opera to the people. Color me imperfect and hypocritical, Bellas!)

IrishEyes said...

Hi Eloisa! You seem to be a very busy lady lately. Do you ever get tired?!!! I'm in awe of you, especially when I can barely get up and get my kids out to school each day.

Interesting blog! My family debates this question all the time when it comes to TV and movies. The one that comes to my mind besides the Star Trek phenomenon that playground monitor mentioned is Casablanca! My parents said that Humphrey Bogart wasn't that big a deal when he was actually making movies and that Casablanca received no awards. Now it seems as if it's a cult classic, film noir, or whatever you want to call it.

I also think that an ARC of "PFP" would be an excellent birthday present for someone (picture me raising my hands furiously) who will be celebrating their birthday within the next week!

Dannyfiredragon said...

Hi Eloisa,

I really love your books and can recommend them to everyone who hasn't had the pleasure to read them.

I wish I could attend the Shakespeare course, because Shakespeare was one of my favorites during my university times. The topic sounds really interesting

Julie in Ohio said...

Good morning, Bellas!

Welcome back, Eloisa!!! I can't begin to express how anxious I am for Josie's story. She has to be my favorite sister. I love her spunk. :o)

I'm a horrible judge of culture on the rise. I thought that leg warmers were going to stay around longer than they did and don't get me started on disco music. But to take it in the other direction, stars on top that plummetted. My candidate would be Tom Cruise. He was on top of the world but one misdirected year and he will be lucky to get a commercial deal with Old Spice.
As for Paris and Nicole, I would need to add Lindsay Lohan to that list.

Julie in Ohio said...

Michelle, I saw the current rendition of "Romeo and Juliet" with Leo DiCaprio and Claire Danes and wanted to cry. I can usually tolerate remakes but that one did nothing, IMO, for the movie.

However, "Ten Things I Hate About You", I loved and will stop everything to watch it on TV. :o)

Laura Vivanco said...

We no longer expect our brightest minds to belong to stuffy personalities

I wonder when the idea that academics were stuffy started. Abelard and Heloise were academics, and what about Galileo, Erasmus and Sartre? I've always thought of the really bright minds among academics as being ones who stir up trouble, because they challenge the status quo and look at things a little differently.

Do you not think that academics studying the popular doesn't make it immediately "high," but does speak to the increasing allowance for individuals to behave as just that, individuals?

I'd agree that just because one or two academics study something does not automatically mean it's going to be included in the literary canon/be judged 'high culture' by everyone else. But about the individualism, do you mean that academics are being individualistic in choosing to study popular culture? Or do you mean that popular culture is individualistic? If it's the first, then no, not necessarily, because studying popular culture isn't that new now, though the study of particular areas of it may be. If it's the second, then I'm not sure I can agree either, because the whole concept of 'popular' culture is tied in with the idea that it's 'popular', i.e. that large numbers of people agree that they like it. In terms of number of people reading the books, reading contemporary literary fiction could arguably make one more individualistic than reading something popular (unless one was reading the lit fic primarily in order to fit in with a particular literary crowd, in which case it would be an act of conformism).

Playground Monitor said...

Just thought of another bottom to top example. "It's a Wonderful Life" was a failure at the box office and nearly ruined Jimmy Stewart's career. Now it's a Christmas classic.

And please don't get me started on Tom Cruise. I'm delighted to see the man's stock plummet; he earned it baby. And I think Mel Gibson is headed in the same direction.

Could MaryKate and Ashley Olsen be added to the list? I know they were hugely popular as kids (they filmed part of a movie here and my orthodontist has a photo of him and them taken in his office) and still popular as teens. But with their departure to college and the one's battle with anorexia, they seem to have dropped off the map.

I remember that DiCaprio version of "Romeo and Juliet." When one of my sons studied R&J in high school, I let him rent it as a companion to reading the play. It was SO awful that I scoured every video store in town until I found the Franco Zefferelli version from the early 70's so he could see what it was supposed to be like. Of course one of my favorite renditions is by Andy Griffith -- if they'd have let have a cheap wedding, they coulda saved themselves the cost of a double funeral. *g*

Marilyn

amy*skf said...

Sometimes it just depends on who likes what. Something that might be considered low brow is then taken up by a person (read Celebrity) who is highly considered--suddenly the 'low' thing is 'it' and everyone wants to do it or have it or be it.

Of course once it's enjoyed by the masses, it starts to lose its appeal.

Pretty darn vague--I know, maybe I'll have an actual example later.

I loved the R and J with Leonardo and Claire. I My daughter and I went to see it inn the theaters when she was 12. It made her love Shakespeare. Both of us today own the soundtrack to the movie.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Brava, Laura! Shall we add into that mix the bottom line that higher ed institutions face which influences the decision to encourage the study of non-trad topics such as Buffy, etc.? Egalitarian that I am, I applaud it, thinkin anything that gets folks thinkin is a good thing all around.

Further, as we know, academics at higher ed institutions are expected to publish, and it only makes good sense to continue the pop culture (or I'll call it current interest) theme of study and tuition.

It's always about the bottom line, Bellas, which is an awfully good thing, but can be necessarily suspect when we're talking free thinkin.

Re the "stuffiness" stereotype and academics, it's clear that high intellect and social skills don't always jibe. As a mom of a child with Aspergers, I work hard to see that my son develops social skills every bit as strong as his ability to retain and manipulate knowledge. I call it the "Get him a date for the prom" principle.

So really really smart folks -- sometimes some folks for whom the insular nature of research is appealing --can have some "tics" that seem odd to the "regular" folk. Horribly unfair, but that's our world.

The bigger issue w/ the stereotype comes from class envy/condescension, 2 sides of same coin thing. Knowledge and ability to acquire it are extraordinarily powerful.

Many who want it but can't afford it resent greatly those who can afford it and weild it in a negative way, as a way to separate them from lesser mortals.

That may be worse than resentment by folks w/out education, cause we'd like to think that when one broadend the mind, one necessarily becomes more humane. And we've all met some pretty well-educated idiots, no? (well, I'm not really that well-educated, I guess) :)

Then, we've got the reserve associated with many prestigious universities, etc., places where decorum is valued as highly as lifelong learning.

Not a bad thing, but one that can be misunderstood by the masses. Just as those folks might be shocked that someone could graduate summa cum laude and intentionally use bad grammar. Or that smart chicks read romance.

It's all about posturing and protecting. We're all human, insecure in some way, so we're looking for ways to make ourselves feel okey-dokey.

Yeah, JulieO, the legwarmer thing was a surprise.

And, Marilyn, Manga may come and go, but the anime art form which inspired it already is considered by many "high" cultchah.

I like the idea, too, of revisiting the 15 Minutes. Andy Warhol had the right of it, even while his time allotment was tickin away. But don't we look back on him with a bit of an amused smile, considering his "movement" a bit naive (and not in the primative sense).

Surely we'll always look back on what's been hot that way, no? I mean, I'm sure Eloisa can point out, already has in fact, that Shakespeare was not all that and a mutton joint.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

OMG. That's the longest post I've ever written. Look out, Laura and Eric. I may start hangin out at TeachMeTonight!

Julie in Ohio said...

LOL, Marilyn. I love Andy Griffith for that reason, right there... :o)

I have a feeling Zach Braff is on the rise up. He started as a nobody on the TV show "Scrubs". Since then he has written, starred in, and directed independent movies that have been well received. I think we are seeing a young Ron Howard in the making.

amy*skf said...

I guess I'm in the minority with the DiCaprio R&J--but that's okay.

That said, I'm just going to gush for one moment and tell you, Eloisa, how much I love your books. And how excited I am to read Pleasure For Pleasure. Maaayne...He was pretty low there for awhile--but now has had a come back.

Vivi Anna said...

I'm so low on the culture scale, I mean I write erotic/fantasy for pete's sake, I have no idea what's high?

In the romance genre itself I think there is some high and some low...

I think historicals are seen as the 'high' culture of romance, and as of right now, I believe contemporary is in low...paranormals used to be but are rising quickly, and erotic is too.

Am I out of touch here, do you think?

Cheeky Wench said...

I wish I could have taken my Shakespeare class in college with you, Eloisa! (Sorry, Dr. Primm!) But you always make it so much more interesting and fun.

Pop culture that has gone from low to high? I don't know. Would Madonna count? When she started on the scene she was this Britney Spears vixen--but she's constantly remaking her identity, pushing the envelope, ticking people off and yet redefining art and music.

I think "chick lit" is a "high" form of a "low" defined genre. Not that *I* think the romance genre is low--but get an intellectual who hasn't read one on the scene--and suddenly it's the lowest form of wit next to sarcasm there is. However, Bridget Jones comes on the scene--and it's a romance novel--but it's not your "usual" romance novel. It's "Chick Lit".

YES, IT IS. Hello. It may be written in diary form, but it follows the same arc...has the same "she ends up with the right guy" ending.

Chick Literature. Something higher brow for we women who have to have our romance. It's almost an annoying title really...but at the same time, labeling such makes it okay to read. It's not a "bodice-ripper"--it's chick lit.

Manda said...

Hi Eloisa! Welcome to the Bella house! I won't bore you with the gory details of my obsession with all things Mayne, but suffice it to say that he's been on my radar for a long time and I am elated he's finally getting his own story!

As for pop culture and the next big thing, though it's been going on for a while I suspect that the study of television as text is going to become more and more legitimate as time goes by.

One of the things that's always kept popular literature down has been the misconception that only popular literature uses current events as part of the text--so instead of being "timeless" popular novels ground themselves in the time period from which they hail.

But "high art" does this too--it's just that "high art" is better at hiding it's pop elements in the text--or like Shakespeare, the pop elements are so foreign to the modern reader that it ceases to be recognizable.

But shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars (all of which are now under the academic spotlight) all deal in pop culture references and intertexuality in a way that makes them smart and funny, but also super-pop. If you aren't up on current events or Western Civ or music/lit/film you don't get the jokes.

To me the study of literature, and now by extension pop culture, is about getting the joke. When I watch the episode of Pinky and the Brain when they do a parody of Hamlet, I laugh because I've read Hamlet. And it's a richer show because it takes into account that I've got a basic knowledge of Hamlet.

What really makes pop culture shows and novels work though is that they can be "read" on multiple levels. So you can appreciate them whether you've read Hamlet or not.

And I think that's what separates high culture from low culture.
High culture, as its produced now doesn't make room for the reader who comed to the table without a knowledge of Hamlet.

So really, novels like Eloisa's and television shows like Gilmore Girls are more complex than "high art" novels because they have the ability to be interpreted by a wider range of reader. Instead of catering to one or the other they have something that satisfies both types and to my way of thinking that's much harder to do.

Is that too abstract? I've only had one cup of coffee so...

MaryKate said...

Jules - I'll agree with that. I think Zach Braff is one of the most talented young actor/director/writers in Hollywood. Likewise Michelle's best crush, Edward Norton. He's genius. He wrote almost all of Selma Hayek's movie FRIDA, which was both critically lauded and did well in the indy film indstry and also wrote, directed and starred in KEEPING THE FAITH, which in my opinion is one of the funniest, most poignant movies out there.

I also love stars who go around and come around. Alan Alda comes to mind. He's been at the very top, backed out of the Hollywood spotlight (I know he contiued on the small stage) and then came back this year to win the Emmy and to write a best selling novel. On top of that, he's an accomplished writer and director (THE FOUR SEASONS, anyone?) and of course, he's passionate about many causes.

Also, I think Ben Affleck is starting a career revival. He'd become a huge joke, but he's been making good choices (HOLLYWOODLAND -- which he's won a couple of awards for) and is directing. What is it about settling down and getting married that immediately rehabilitates some actors? I have to say, his credibility raised with me just by marrying Jennifer Garner, whom I love.

amy*skf said...

Michelle, you said: "Just as those folks might be shocked that someone could graduate summa cum laude and intentionally use bad grammar."

It's a whole phenomenon of 'low class cool'--and it certainly is intentional.

Unfortunately, my daughter has perfected it.

LOL, not really, but there were moments when she was in high school where I thought--if she uses the word "aint" one more time I'll bop her on the head. She also had the "dirt"/grunge/trashy dress style--before anyone--or so it seemed to this mother.

MaryKate said...

Manda-my-love, you are genius!

I equate your post to when I went to see the opera, THE BARBER OF SEVILLE recently. I knew most of the music...why? Because I'd seen THE RABBIT OF SEVILLE (Bugs Bunny) about a million times growing up. So, I got it. I still don't like opera, but it was a kick to get the story because I'd seen the cartoon.

laurat said...

Hi Michelle~!

This is a great guest today~! :O). I am also lurking in the past blogs.... I think I will be here all day.

Eloisa,

I want to enroll in you class... do they have any satellite courses? It is fascinating...Maybe sometime you could do a whole Shakespeare workshop for RWA. :O). I wonder too, what will be popular later...

I was also thinking of when you take popular culture to different countries... David Hasslehoff is pretty big in other countries,with his music, but here, we are all like...eh?

Janga said...

Hi, Eloisa! Count me among the fans anxiously awaiting further news of Josie and Mayne.

I think we are seeing barriers eroding between high and popular culture in significant ways, and I think the erosion can be seen on both sides of the barrier. You can't get much more pop culture than the record-shattering, lexicon-enriching Harry Potter, and yet there have been academic conferences devoted to the study of Rowling's character, and at least a half dozen academic books on the subject, the latest (that I know of) Harry Potter and International Relations. On the other hand, we have a popular film, O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Coen brothers, 2000) with a protagonist named Ulysses Everett McGill and enough allusions to Homer's Odyssey to thrill the heart of any seeker of intertextuality.

Janga, another Bon Bon Girl, who inhabits a BB world largely constructed of intertextualities :)

Manda said...

Yay! Mary Kate got it!!

I LOVE The Rabbit of Seville! And that's exactly what I was talking about--and it's awesome how it works both ways! You got opera from Bugs Bunny and it helped you appreciate the real thing!

amy*skf said...

Manda, I agree with you, it's unfortunate though, that once something is enjoyed by the masses it's seen as not cool any more. Although, I'd like to think more things are trancending that.

Do we think the masses are smarter than we used to?

And Cheeky Wench--yes, yes! It's romance even if you call it "chic lit" A rose by any other name...right?

amy*skf said...

Oh, that's right! Manda--now I know why I lopve the opera. Most of my love of classical music came from Bugs Bunny!

Julie in Ohio said...

MK- I believe John Travolta could be added to the coming around again group. He has been high and low and is on the rise again.

Eloisa James said...

You guys have mentioned such fascinating trends -- I wish you were all in my class! Unfortunately, Fordham isn't offering satellite classes...

Which reminds me that I have to rush off to a department meeting. I'll check in later, but I just want to say a huge THANK YOU!! for the kind words about my books. It's such a huge pleasure...I can't wait to see what everyone thinks of Mayne. Well, Mayne and... *g*

Eloisa

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

LOL, Ames. I've been searchin for cool my whole life; I'll take it any way I can get it. You're daughter's lucky to have you, ain't she?

You guyz, Bellas. I'm always so impressed by the grasp you have on pop culture, as well as the way you draw in high cultcha throughout our everyday discussions. That's one of the neatest things about this community.

One of the things we brag on all the time is how romance is influenced by that lit which came before. It's impossible for art not to be influenced by art preceding it, or events in the moments just before the destruction occurred that made way for the art to happen.

(It's said that to create art, something must be destroyed. The painter destroys the canvas, the sculptor the stone; the dancer, the air molecule formation; the musician, the soundwaves. What does the writer destroy when she creates a line? Every other possibility. Woah. Wicked deep.)

Even as a writer, I feel a sense of glee when I can hook something classical into my column, whether it's a Hank V reference, or a Monty Python allusion. But it's got to be something either the majority of viewers can i.d., or others can assimmilate because of the context.

That's why the "Hamlet" production worked as well for Pinky and the Brain as it did for Gilligan et al. That's when I first was turned on to Shakespeare, then searched the bookshelves cause I remembered the name.

Manda said...

Cheeky, you are so right about Chick lit--totally ticks me off when lit snobs are all "well it's a real novel" when in fact it's just romance dressed in "real lit" clothing! I guess people will always have their little self deceptions...

Michelle--forgot about the Gilligan Shakespeare! Good one! Love that line about something needing to be destroyed in order for art to be produced...

Manda said...

No disrespect meant in "just romance" term...Merely meant that text is text no matter what kind of covers it wears:)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Yeah, wish the statement were mine, but can't claim it. Here's me apologizing, cause I didn't mean to give impression I was trying to steal thunder from your Hamlet reference.

And, I think we all understand the "just romance" phrase. Many of us are frustrated with the women's fiction and chick lit v romance debate. I think the other camps would be very brave in claiming romance as a sister , but I've ranted about that before...

Um, is disco going to be seen as high culture any time soon? And howza bout independent films v big-time movies?

terrio said...

Hello Eloisa, Bellas and fellow Bon Bons. This goes unsaid but huge fan and never get used to the fact that I can just drop you a line either through the bulletin board or in forums like this one.

I thought of the modern day version of Shakespeare and the ballroom dancing examples as others have stated but I also thought of the Food Network bringing what used to be considered 'haute cuisine' to the masses. Emeril, Rachel Ray, Bobby Flay and others have invaded our homes and now many more people are becoming chefs and not just cooks in their own kitchens. You can see it whenever you browse your local stores and see the wide array of wine accessories and specialized kitchen gadgetry. An apron and spatula are not enough anymore. One must have the pampered chef cheese grater and their own little wine glass identifying trinket or they are, as Heidi Klum would say, augt.

Manda said...

LOL, Michelle--of course I didn't think you were stealing my Hamlet thunder:) We are like a great jazz group doing variations on a theme...

Dang, I sound like I need to wear a black turtleneck, today!

Terri, yes to the cooking shows. I know so many academics who LOVE Iron Chef.

Laura Vivanco said...

So really, novels like Eloisa's and television shows like Gilmore Girls are more complex than "high art" novels because they have the ability to be interpreted by a wider range of reader.

That's about broader appeal, though, isn't it, rather than complexity? But what you said makes me think of layers - that some popular culture works can be read at a variety of different depths. They can be read quickly as 'fun', then they can also be 'fun that gets you to think', then there's 'fun that also has intertextual allusions to other pop culture' and 'fun that also has allusions to 'high' culture'. So it could be that they're more complex in terms of the number of levels at which they can be read. They also have themes and imagery, but on that level I'm not sure that they're necessarily going to be more complex than those of 'high art'.

With Shakespeare and the pop culture versions of Shakespeare, it's interesting to see how you start with something that's popular culture (even in the tragedies there are comic scenes , e.g. the drunken porter in Macbeth, making a speech filled with innuendo. Comic characters are usually plebeian. They're 'popular', while tragedy is usually about aristocratic characters). Anyway, over time Shakespeare became 'high' and difficult to understand. So then popular culture reclaims Shakespeare and takes it back to the underlying story (e.g. in West Side Story).

Just saying that about the distinction between tragedy and comedy has made me think about how many romance heroes and heroines are aristocrats. I wonder if that's at all due to the influence of the old idea (as in Greek theatre) that serious literature/drama was about aristocrats - kings, queens, gods. Only comedy was about peasants/slaves. It's been changing over time, of course, but you still see those class distinctions in Shakespeare (maybe a bit blurred, but the peasants don't behave quite the same way as the princes, for example, and the peasants don't get to be heroes or heroines). Anyway, I wonder if there's still something lingering in literary influences which makes people feel that serious characters are more likely to be the rich and powerful. Just speculating, because it would tie in with what Vivi Anna said about historicals (which are usually about the nobility) being seen as 'higher' than contemps.

amy*skf said...

Julie--I could not come up with John Travolta's name--wracking and wracking to no avail. Thank You.

amy*skf said...

Michelle, I think disco already is there. I mean it certainly has had a resurgence, and it is great to dance to. Hahahaha.

Laura--isn't complexity layers? I guess I'm not smart enough to see the difference. When I think of something complex I think of it as having many components, layers, outcomes etc. Not difficult to understand, well it can be, but understood on many different levels.

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog! My family debates this question all the time when it comes to TV and movies. The one that comes to my mind besides the Star Trek phenomenon that playground monitor mentioned is Casablanca! My parents said that Humphrey Bogart wasn't that big a deal when he was actually making movies and that Casablanca received no awards. Now it seems as if it's a cult classic, film noir, or whatever you want to call it.


Casablanca "received no awards"? It won the Oscar for Best Picture!

IrishEyes said...

What fascinates me is who decides? The question isn’t who or what is on the rise or declining, but how do they get there? Who decides what is high brow or low brow? Who decides what is intelligent reading or toxic to the brain? Who gets to decide that if you read Shakespeare you are intelligent, but if you read romance novels you are frivolous? And when Shakespeare was around and you were frivolous for reading him, what did you have to read to be intelligent? How were Jane Austen, Charlotte and Emily Bronte and Charles Dickens viewed? Were they considered literary geniuses?

I think the bottom line is that people just want to be acknowledged. I think that’s what pop culture and fads and what’s in and what’s out is all about. The person sitting next to you wants to know that you think they are worthy. That they are intelligent, witty, well-read, hip, cool and in turn, accepted. It’s probably some coding in our DNA that makes us all want to belong to the group as a whole. My favorite scene in a movie is from Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”. Graham Chapman, as Brian, is speaking to the masses and says “You’ve got to think for yourselves! You’re ALL individuals!” and the crowd all says in unison “Yes! We’re ALL individuals!” Cracks me up every time!

Laura Vivanco said...

Laura--isn't complexity layers? I guess I'm not smart enough to see the difference.

That's almost certainly due to me not being clear, rather than to you not being smart enough.

The way I see it (and I'll give examples from Eloisa's Duchess Quartet) layers can include things like:

(1) basic story line (lots of heroines who are married women having problems in their marriages - they get together with their husbands, or find new ones)
(2) theme (in general, can marriages which are failing be made to work again - are there some actions which are unforgivable?)
(3) imagery (one husband is a sculptor, another is a musician - they produce beautiful things but sometimes this is a difficult process. Is it just as difficult to produce a good marriage? Does there have to be some 'spark' there from the start? Is that enough or do the parties involved have to work at it?)
(4) literary allusions - these relate the ideas in these novels to other works of literature which have dealt with these or similar themes in the past

Each level can be more or less complex - the plot could have subplots and multiple characters, for example.

Some cakes have lots of layers, but if the layers are tinned-fruit, ready-made madeira cake pieces, custard and then cream (i.e. a trifle), that's going to have plenty of layers, but be a lot less complicated to make than, say, a Christmas cake which has lots of ingredients all mixed up in one layer. Hmm, maybe that's not a good metaphor, but it's making me hungry.

IrishEyes said...

Sorry about that! :( Guess that'll teach me to submit without checking my facts first!

Monica Burns said...

Afternoon my beauteous bellas!!

Welcome, welcome Eloisa, it's great to see you back on RBTB again!

But it's got to be something either the majority of viewers can i.d., or others can assimmilate because of the context.

I disagree Michelle, I don't then it has to be something the majority get "right away." I think there are a lot of things in pop culture that people don't hook onto right away, that's how it goes from low to high (well at least in my own delusional little universe LOL). It took the masses a long time to truly understood the messages that Roddenberry was embedding in Star Trek. That show has so many themes buried in it that so many people failed to assimilate until it was discussed in depth.

I'm thinking of one episode with Frank Gorshin, where it appeared that the two men were both B&W and yet one was white on the wrong side. That was a brilliant expose on racism for its time, and yet it wasn't viewed in that way. So I think subtlty is often where pop culture begins its evolution into something deeper and more relevant.

Unless I've missed the boat and I'm totally clueless to what this whole conversation is about. Wouldn't be the first time I was left on the dock. *sigh*

I'd also like to point out that I have no doubt that Johnny Depp is going to be the topic of classes in the year 2050 or thereabouts. The man's characterizations are brilliant. I see him as the greatest actor of our time (not bad to look at either). We look at Olivier as an example of a brilliant Shakespearen actor. Depp will be viewed on that same level in the future when it comes to characterizations. He's not viewed so much that way now. He's a "sex" object in many ways, but he's going to be studied in the future as an unappreciated actor for his time. So will Kenneth Brannagh, who I believe will inheirt Olivier's Shakespearen mantle.

Someone already mentioned Harry Potter, and I think those books will be taught to the same degree as Dickens, Henry James, Shakespeare and other classics. Because it is just that HP is already a classic.

Stacy, gotta disagree on AI, Star Search was before that, and there were a couple of people who got their start there too. The question is whether the AI folks will maintain their status or rise to greater heights. I'm not convinced they will, but I've been wrong plenty of times before. *grin*

No pop culture discussion in 2030 will be complete without the Star Wars phenom Those movies not only generated $$$ they set the tone for so many movies that followed. The special effects, the storylines. One of my favorite books is a dissertation on who the Christ figure, Israel, Gentiles, Pharisees, etc are in the first Star Wars.

Oh and what about Vin Disel and his Riddick trilogy. His character there is AWESOME. There's a whole underground pop thing going on there.

Viv, I think I'm really probably with you. I'm always a step behind everyone else, but you and me, babe, we walk to different drummers, which I think is a GOOD thing. LOL

Ok, I need to go do some work. The boss is trying to figure out why I'm typing so fast when he's not given me anything to type. *grin*
movie.

Monica

diane_r said...

From reading these posts, the thought occurs to me that alot of pop culture pays homage to high culture. Finding references in current favorites (whether book or tv) to Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, etc., is part of what makes them enjoyable now.
Just my two cents.

Di,
who is also eagerly awaiting PFP

Julie in Ohio said...

"..we walk to different drummers.."

LOL, Mon!! That is what we love about you and Vivi. :o)

Playground Monitor said...

Amy said: It's a whole phenomenon of 'low class cool'--and it certainly is intentional.

And just look how much money Jeff Foxworthy and crew have made with redneck humor. My favorite on the Food Network is Paula Deen. She's made southern cooking into cuisine. I've always known it was good, but to paraphrase Barbara Mandrell, "I was southern when southern wasn't cool."

Did anyone see Zach Braff in "The Broken Hearts Club?" It was done in 2000 and was an indie film about a group of gay men. I went to see it because it had Dean Cain in it. I haven't watched Scrubs or any of his other work so I can't really comment. But he was good in TBHC with a good character arc.

Johnny Depp -- I really didn't care that much for him until I saw "Finding Neverland" and then I thought he was brilliant.

Oh my goodness but I'd forgotten about the Rabbit of Seville. I suppose y'all are too young to remember Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts on TV. He introduced a whole generation of kids to classical music right in their living rooms.

Marilyn

Monica Burns said...

Marilyn, JD's most brilliant performance to date is Libertine, just recently out on video. I don't think the film did that well in theatres, which is a shame, because it truly was a tour de force performance in my mind. I don't see JD when I watch him perform, I see his character. There are few actors these days that can do that IMHO.

{{{{JulieO}}}} I'm way out of tune. Probably because I only have time to write and no time to get into the latest TV schedule (even though I worship TIVO) or read a whole lot. *sigh*

island girl said...

Eloisa's comment about putting things in writing, triggered a thought.

Low's to high's: rap, in it's lyrical and poetic form.

It's impossible to see "high" society listening to rap. However, I've seen more and more books printing the lyrics of rap. I've opened and read a few of their lines and it really tell's a wonderful story of the complexity of poverty and the desire to rise, to get out of it. Poverty isn't the only theme covered. Rap, seems a way of voicing or rebelling against what they feel is wrong in society. It is crossing cultural and racial boundaries, in that there are white rappers.

My husband, whom, I never thought would listen to rap. Told me, that he heard the lyrics to Eminem and actually liked it. I was shocked. I don't listen to rap--the rhythm can be a little too harsh for me. However, I have read them in the bookstores and it makes me want to listen closer, when the radio is on. Yes, it's a lot of rhyming--but it is a skill with words.

I say, if it becomes printed--it's a sign of a spiral upwards. A way of making rap--legit.

I know, I still think it's impossible--who knows in a decade?

islandgirl

joelle said...

Diana Krall and Elvis Costello will hit it really big.

Maureen said...

It's funny you should be talking about this because my family was talking about how you would hear advertisements for Regis Philbin apprearing at Club Bene, a local club in our area, when he had no show. So he went very low before he was high again. I predict Jerry Springer will rise from the amazing low he put himself in.

pearl said...

Michaek Buble is going to the stratosphere.

Julie in Ohio said...

I see Eloisa James going from near obscurity to being a bestselling author adored by fans all around the world...




oops, sorry. I see my crystal ball is five years old. That has already happened... :o)

Jo B said...

When I read the post, the first idea that came to me was rap and hip hop. Then I thought of food, specifically how haute restaurants recently have been returning to making some basic "comfort" foods that used to be staples in the kitchen because they were easy and cheap. I'm thinking of meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, etc.

Another one I thought of was graffiti which in some cases is being seen more as art than vandalism. I've seen several recent gallery shows of grafitti art in my city.

For everyone that was talking about Star Wars, I'm in college and one class that has been offered recently was the Philosophy in Star Wars. Just another example of popular culture being given the "high culture" treatment.

Julie in Ohio said...

Eloisa, do you have any secrets about PFP that you wish to share with us? We are great listeners... :P

Jennifer Y. said...

The first thing that popped in my head was American Idol as well and other talent search shows.

Oh, and I could be wrong (it may have already happened or may not be what you meant), but I see ebooks possibly going from low to high...by that I mean from being little known and not real popular (like they were several years ago) to being very well known and popular forms of reading. As more people learn about them and technology improves, they could really reach the top.

Sorry if I am wrong.

maria said...

Ok, this is going to sound silly, but I have to say :snails! Isn't it ridiculous?Here in Crete (and in Greece, in general) we consider it a common dish,just part of our culture and meditteranean diet. Yet, in France(mostly) and expensive restaurants(generally) snails are considered the creme de la creme... Come off it!They're just snails...LOL

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hey, All! Thanks for dropping in with all your excellent thoughts. Sheesh. My brain hurts.

Here's the thing I hope never again to read on this blog: I guess I'm not smart enough.

I'll put up the intelligence, thoughtfulness, and truly inquisitive natures of my Bellas against any other romance-related blog or site on the Inet -- and I mean any -- any day.

Got a degree? Cool. Be brave enough to share your knowledge with us in a way the least educated among us understands.

Got no degree? Again, cool. Be brave enough to share what you know intrinsically, as well as what that all-important real world has taught you.

This is the place you can feel comfortable talking romance and anything else. Long as you say it nice, we're dying to hear what you've got to say.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Mon, good point, but I guess I didn't make mine clearly. I write for a lot of different education levels at once and, while I never write down, I feel my mission is to be inclusive, even if I'm trying to clue the uninitiated in to things romance, literary, or other.

I'm thinking, Bellas, the question isn't whether AI or Star Search will come back around again, but will either one become a type of Van Cliburn competition. Just my take on High v Low.

I love that youz are bringing up food, which has always been another powerful divider of classes. I'm struck similarly to Maria by the trend in upscale restaurants in which serving decanters of infused olive oil w/ hard bread is haute.

My immigrant grandmother ate bread, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon for lunch and was considered quite pedestrian for it. I think of that every time I'm served the combo.

Playground Monitor said...

I'm struck similarly to Maria by the trend in upscale restaurants in which serving decanters of infused olive oil w/ hard bread is haute.

My immigrant grandmother ate bread, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon for lunch and was considered quite pedestrian for it.


I wonder if pinto beans and cornbread will ever be haute?

Marilyn

nearhere said...

Hi Everybody!

This is a really fascinating topic. I agree there does seem to be a movement to broaden the intersection of pop culture with ‘high culture’. Look at Cornell West who recorded a rap album (albeit controversially). I think that this is in large due to the expansion of marginalized groups into the dominant cultural narrative. In other words, there is a movement to recognize that the culture of the non-elites (ethnic, cultural, economic, and political) has the same intrinsic value that elite culture contains. Much like subaltern studies attempts to give agency to marginalized people and groups and explore the ways in which they shape the larger culture, I believe that academics are opening their eyes ‘popular culture’ as a way to explore social phenomenon and political structure. Society is no longer only studied through the narrow lens of a top down power hierarchy.

Sorry if that makes little sense, I've had one of those days. And its not over. :(

About pinto beans and cornbread being haut... I bet there are souped up versions of that at many fancy restaurants. If you can go out to eat and pay 20 bucks to eat a plate of 'sauteed collard greens' then whose to stop the haut elevation of beans and cornbread.

Proud to be a Bon Bon,
nearhere

orannia said...

Hi Eloisa, Michelle and all the Bellas :)

I just discovered your books a few months ago Eloisa and I have to say I'm happily hooked :) I can't wit for PFP - Josie was always my favourite of the sisters! I don't know when it will be released in New Zealand (yes, I'm on the other side of the world) so I'll have a crack at answering your question!

I was going to say reality TV, but everyone seems to have discussed that one. I think the other two that stand out for me are DIY shows (do you know there is a 'Food Channel' on satellite here! My father is addicted! You can learn how to cook anything and everything! Ohh, and all the changes in music. I mean, look at rap. It completely changed the face of the music industry when it 'appeared'.

Have a lovely day all!

orannia

Anonymous said...

Maia here,

I would say art movements, particularly those that were thought to be commercial or created for and by the 'masses', reflect the changing meaning of 'high' and 'low' culture. I'm thinking particularly of the Art Nouveau movement at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, and graffiti in our time.

Alphonse Mucha, one of the proponents of Art Nouveau, initially and throughout his career illustrated ads for cigarrete and chocolate companies; today those and others of his prints hang in museum.

In the case of graffiti, there are museum exhibits all over the place that emphasize the medium, the art, and the artists as representatives of specific historical, social and cultural movements.

Anyway, my ideas on the topic. Count me in for the drawing please! I love Eloisa's books, and have been waiting for Mayne for a long time.

Maia in Alabama

Julie in Ohio said...

Orannia- DIY shows are taking over the world... :o)


For all of you non-AI believers, I should warn you that that show is my guilty pleasure and I never miss an episode (except the auditions; I hate watching people make a fool of themselves). IMO, it has brought to light some really great talent that otherwise wouldn't have gotten a chance. On the other side of the spectrum, William Hung should never have gotten a record deal. I have no idea where he came from. I believe that as long as there are 20,000+ people out there looking for their 15 minutes of fame, there will be American Idol. :o)

Kim from IN said...

Hi Everyone! Popping in from the edges of squawk and bon bon land. *g* I for one have been anxiously awaiting JOSIE'S story for eons:D Mayne? Who's that? JK (Manda I can feel you seething from here. LOL)

How about Oprah? She started as a Jerry Springer-type show with all the dramas and scandals. Now she is one of the most powerful women in the world. Look at all she does to make a difference. Katrina relief and her school in Africa?!?! There is nothing tabloid about her anymore.

Next up...Will Smith. Long long ago he was a struggling rapper on a sitcom. Now he's WILL SMITH! Movie star extraordinaire.

Do those count as rising to the top?

elyssany said...

Hi Eloisa,

I'm a newbie on this one, but not so new over at the Eloisa bulletin board. Putting it nicely, I'm dedicated (some would say obsess) with all things Mayne. *g* I'm much like Manda -- I loved Mayne since he first made his appearance in Your Wicked Ways and have longed for his happily ever after. For after all, he's sexy, sexy, sexy... did I mention that he's sexy?! LOL. I so want him to end up with Josie... I just think that they're perfect for one another.

Back to Eloisa's topic... I remember back when I was in college my professor saying that if Shakespeare lived now, he'd be like a Stephen Spielberg. Shakespeare was a master of being involved in everything and for taking what was popular in his day and making it "new" to his audience. You gotta love a guy who writes a play for Falstaff because of his audience's response and demand for it. And Shakespeare still speaks today... did anyone ever see The Simpsons episode (I think that it might have been one of the Halloween ones) where they did Hamlet? It was vastly entertaining.

As to what I could see going from the bottom of the cultural barrel to the top it's got to be Michael Jackson. I mean, isn't he more than low? If he could just turn himself around and get straightened out a bit in the head, I'd bet he be as popular as he was in his "Thriller" days. Or perhaps even Romance Literature getting a better name/more respect from the other fields of literature... I mean it's the number one seller, so I don't get why people diss it! I mean, surely you would all would like to see a movie based on an Eloisa James' book? Imagine -- a real life Mayne. Sigh!

Elyssa --- long time Bon Bon Girl!

Amy S. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amy S. said...

Paula Deen, she started selling bag lunches and now she has her own restaurant and her own cooking show on food network. Her two boys just got their own show on there too. Paula even starred in Elizabethtown.

Cherie Japp said...

Welcome Eloisa! Really enjoyed reading your post. I would say something that is really hot now is superhero movies. You have even the comic book heroes like the Xmen and the Fantastic Four having movies mad of them.

Julie in Ohio said...

Well, I'm closing up shop early tonight. For some reason, I am waaayyy too sleepy to think. :P


Thank you so much for guest blogging today, Professor James. It was great of you to stop by. I hope you stop by again. I'll bring the mocha lattes (my drink of choice) or cappucinoes, which ever you prefer. :o)

Monica Burns said...

I feel my mission is to be inclusive, even if I'm trying to clue the uninitiated in to things romance, literary, or other.

ahh, lightbulb on now...I was thinking in context of a fictional work where the writer (me - LOL) snuck in something that high brow, that would then become low brow once the masses caught on.

But I see your point, I think we were talking about two different things. Or at least I hope we are, cuz I am feeling like a complete and total idiot at the moment. I love being around really smart people, but I generally have to keep my mouth shut or be thought a fool (Twain or Lincoln said) or open mouth and remove all doubt.
*sigh*

Kat said...

First I wanted to say how much I love Eloisa's books!!!!

Now onto the question. My only thought at the moment is how political satire shows (ie: Daily Show) have been moving from low to high.

LdyBlkny said...

Hi Eloisa!

Well, I won't say much on how much I'm dying for Mayne's story, but suffice it to say, I happily count myself amongst the obsessed Bon Bons. *grin*

This is such an interesting question and I though a bit about it today, but nothing really caught my attention until this afternoon. I was struck today by something I heard in the office of one of my profs while waiting to meet with her. The student assistant in the dept office was listening to music that we don't usually find here in the US. Looking at it strictly from the US cultural standpoint, I think a genre of music that has great potential for rising up and taking a greater presence in our nation is what we, as a culture, would consider "ethnic" music, and what I see as non-Western-born music. I was caught up by this because I like to listen to a diverse range of music from around the world and I don't often find others who do this. The other interesting thing is that the girl listening to the music belongs to the dominant hegemonic culture.

We live in a nation of many voices and with such a diverse grouping of people living in one country, I see great potential for the music of other countries to infuse our current music industry with its flair and different style.

LdyBlkny,
yet another Bon Bon out there in cyberland. :)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Molto grazie, Eloisa, for visiting today with a GuestBlog fun and thought-provoking. We can't wait til you visit us again to celebrate the release of "Pleasure for Pleasure."

Thanks, too, Bellas, Bon Bons, and new friends, too! Today was a lovely mix of talking pop and highbrow and how they, like "romance" and "real lit," as Professor Snaxy Hamed says," are really "manifestations of the same phenomena."

Princeton prof and FOD (friend of dave, my husband) here Friday to talk about romance in his class.

Thanks again, Eloisa! You are awesome.

Eloisa James said...

Hurrah for all these Mayne lovers!

I thought you all might enjoy this little snippet from Pleasure for Pleasure...a Shakespearean moment. My heroine is quoting from A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Mayne is the donkey in question:

"What if I were a fairy queen?" she said.

"What then?

"I would command you to stay. 'Out of this wood do not desire to go. Thou shalt remain here, whether thou wilt or no.'"

"I feel a donkey's head descending onto my shoulders," he muttered. But he was walking after her...

"If I remove your donkey's head, will you kiss me?" she whispered.

Love you guys!

Eloisa

Kate Davies said...

Oh, Eloisa, I wish I could take your class! I taught Shakespeare to ninth graders for years before leaving teaching for stay-at-home-momhood and writing, and I always started with a focus on Shakespeare in popular culture. I still have a videotape with clips from TV shows, movies, commercials, etc., that used references to Shakespeare. I'd have to update it if I ever went back in the classroom, but I can't imagine teaching The Bard without it!

Flora Olivera said...

I think that today's "low" that will become tomorrow's "high" is. . .hard-core hip hop music.*dreads*

I will defend myself. What makes something a part of culture is the youth who grow up to be doctors, parents, teachers, etc. Elvis became a legend because his fanship grew older and passed on his fame. Just like with Shakespeare, who probably greatly entertained the youth od England this yunngins' grew up (Lords, Ladies, Knights).

Another prime example of this is the music of Woodstock, the Beatles, Janis Joplin, JImmi Hendrix, etc. You'll find many prominent lawyers, politicians, doctors listening to this once "outcast" or "rebellious" music.

Just the other day, I overheard my English 101 professor (he's young) listening and singing along with Snoop Dogg on hi iPod.

Yes, I'm scared this genre already has a hold on the 20-somethings which means in the future our children might be forced to analyze the lyrics of 50 cent, Dr. Dre and heaven forbid Eminem who will be know in the future as "urban Shakespears"

Please prove me wrong America.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't resist a chance for an arc of pfp and had to add my comments about pop culture...

I think music videos will be looked upon as highbrow one day because, as with a few of the other examples, (comics, elvis) videos changed or created a new popular culture (and thus the phenomena will be studied--making it "high brow"), but have virtually dissappeared from its original medium -- anyone seen a video on MTV these days? So videos were hugely influential, but are currently only produced for a small population (of 14-year olds, I admit), but have a definite craft -- there also the launching pad for influential film-makers (Michael Gondry, Spike Jonze).

Anywho, me, my Mom, and my three sisters are devoted fans. We can't wait for Mayne's story (which we all hope is Josie's too).