In what ways does this selection exemplify a Marxist approach? Do Eagleton's ideas show the influence of his teacher Raymond Williams?
What are some qualities of Eagleton's style?
What in his view were some of the social determinants of the study of English literature in the 19th century? How was it differentiated from study of the classics?
Which values was the study of English literature supposed to confirm? (2247) What made literature suitable for the transmission of moral ideology?
At the turn of the century, which groups of persons were encouraged to study literature?
To what does Eagleton ascribe the increased attention to national literature in school and university curricula after the first world war?
Can you think of any other reasons why English literature overtook the classics and philology in popularity beside the ones which he mentions?
What seem some purposes behind Eagleton's critique of the ideological mission of the teaching of English? Are his strictures more applicable to a particular kind of curriculum?
What kind of literary/cultural study do you think he would favor? Could any of his critiques be applied to aspects of the English program at Iowa?
Pierre Bourdieu, introduction, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (1979)
What is Bourdieu's argument, in brief?
What are the references and implications of the title? What influence may the fact that Bourdieu is a sociologist have on his view of aesthetics?
How may his claims for the primacy of cultural capital as an index of status, education and social origin reflect aspects of contemporary French culture? Are there analogues in contemporary U. S. life?
What aspects of "cultural competence" does Bourdieu believe are acquired? (learning of codes) In what settings are they best inculcated? (1811, informal and familial settings)
What does he believe are features of "art" which are socially valorized? (those which require knowledge of a cultural code, e. g., the history of past art forms; those which require attention to form, disinterestedness, concern with the mode of representation over its object) Which aspects are denied or repressed? (direct sensory responses, "ethical" expressions)
What examples does he give of hierarchies of interpretation? (1812, for high art, alienation or distancing preferred, emphasis on form over function--assumption that the best art should be inaccessible to a popular audience)
What does the artist him/herself seek? (complete autonomy, focus on style, 1811)
Does Bordieu's description apply more to some forms of "high" art than others? (seems to apply well to mid-20th century abstract art) What forms of French art may he have been considering? (Europe the site of im19th and 20th century pressionist, expressionist, and symbolist art)
Is his distinction between judgments of form and function a useful distinction? (also, between the literal and the abstract) Is it possible to distinguish these entirely?
What are differences between a naive or popular view of art and that which reflects intellectual values? (1813, working-class or popular view seeks agreeable to "ethical" art) Is his identification of "ethical" concerns in art with naive/uneducated responses valid? His identification of disinterestedness with amorality? [this seems his greatest leap?]
Bordieu claims that whether rejecting or praising, the responses of working-class viewers always contain an ethical basis. What does he mean by this?
According to Bordieu, in what ways do canons of "taste" operate outside the spheres of high art? (1813, clothing, decoration, food) Is Bordieu correct that these are especially "bourgeois" rather than working-class concerns in their reflection of "disinterestedness"?
What do you think of his interpretation of eating habits? (1814, quantity vs. mode of preparation--one might argue that the distinction is between the respective qualities of the food itself)
Is it possible to fully separate the "taste of sense" from the "taste of reflection," and if so, what would be the result? (no abstract or generalizing thought possible)
How accurate do you find his portrayal of the aesthetic reactions of the less privileged? (seems to stereotype on both levels, in describing art and the reactions to it)
How is a concern with the aesthetics of clothes, etc. diferent from a concern with ethics?
Is Bordieu correct that "taste classifies, and it classifies the classifier"? (1813)
To what extent may Bourdieu's claims be valid within most cultures? Is a place reserved in his analysis for differences in personal judgment, affinity and temperament?
Are there aspects of literature and its apprehension which are not entirely relevant to his analysis? (reception is too complexly embedded in its situation to oversimplify)
Does Bourdieu share some interests or viewpoints with Williams and Eagleton?
Selections and pagination from the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, 2001 edition.