Write your press (news) release based on the scenario below. Remember that FORMAT and WRITING STYLE will be critically important in your grade.
Press Release Scenario:
YOU ARE THE COLLEGE PR Professional, so write from that perspective:
Each year, your college awards honorary degrees to people who have made outstanding contributions to the state or to society in some way. This year two honorary degrees will be awarded at the commencement exercises, which will be held at 11 a.m. on May 14 in Memorial Coliseum.
You work part-time in the college public relations office, and your boss has asked you to write a press release announcing that the following people will be receiving honorary degrees at the Saturday morning ceremony:
George T. Hale, age 62, a 1975 graduate of the college and established the state’s first educational television cooperative in the late 1970s, will be cited for his “ability to envision the future and make it a reality for the state’s telecommunications industry.” When he retired from the presidency of Hale Communications Inc., last year, the company had more than 40 percent of the cable market. Hale, a multimillionaire, has donated thousands of dollars to the development of educational television. In addition, he built a camp for physically handicapped adults on his estate and sends more than 300 individuals there each spring and summer for an extensive recreation-training program. Hale lives in Apopka with his wife of 30 years, Elizabeth. They are the adoptive parents of two Korean children: Lee, 25 and Ben 22.
Rachel Cabanis, age 50, is a Florida native and a 1982 graduate of College and a graduate of the University of Florida Law School after a 20-year career as a legal secretary with her husband’s law firm in Orlando. Her famous book about her decision to go to law school and her experience there, Breaking Through, has been lauded as the “greatest statement of one woman’s choices written in this decade.” It won her a Pulitzer Prize (and a least a year’s worth of speaking engagements). Mrs. Cabanis, now separated from her husband, Roy Cabanis, has become a full partner at another Orlando law firm. She is being honored by College for her “honesty and integrity in making difficult It is on this relationship – between ‘base’ and ‘superstructure’ – that the classical Marxist account of culture rests. The ‘base’ consists of a combination of the ‘forces of production’ and the ‘relations of production’. The forces of production refer to the raw materials, the tools, the technology, the workers and their skills, etc. The relations of production refer to the class relations of those engaged in production. That is, each mode of production, besides being different, say, in terms of its basis in agrarian or industrial production, is also different in that it produces particular relations of production: the slave mode produces master/slave relations; the feudal mode produces lord/peasant relations; the capitalist mode produces bourgeois/proletariat relations. It is in this sense that one’s class position is determined by one’s relationship to the mode of production. The ‘superstructure’ (which develops in conjunction with a specific mode of production) consists of institutions (political, legal, educational, cultural, etc.), and ‘definite forms of social consciousness’ (political, religious, ethical, philosophical, aesthetic, cultural, etc.) generated by these institutions. The relationship between base and superstructure is twofold. On the one hand, the superstructure both legitimates and challenges the base. On the other, the base is said to ‘condition’ or ‘determine’ the limits of the content and form of the superstructure. This relationship can be understood in a range of different ways. It can be seen as a mechanical relationship (‘economic determinism’) of cause and effect: what happens in the superstructure is a passive reflection of what is happening in the base. This often results in a vulgar Marxist ‘reflection theory’ of culture, in which the politics of a text or practice are read off from, or reduced to, the material conditions of its production. The relationship can also be seen as the setting of limits, the providing of a specific framework in which some developments are probable and others unlikely. However we view the relationship, we will not fully understand it if we reduce the base to an economic monolith (a static economic institution) and forget that for Marx the base also include social relations and class antagonisms. After Marx’s death in 1883, Frederick Engels, friend and collaborator, found himself having to explain, through a series of letters, many of the subtleties of Marxism to younger Marxists who, in their revolutionary enthusiasm, threatened to reduce it to a form of economic determinism. Here is part of his famous letter to Joseph Bloch: According to the materialist conception of history [Marxism], the ultimately determining element in history is the production and reproduction of real life. Neither Marx nor I have ever asserted more than this. Therefore if somebody twists this into saying that the economic factor is the only determining one, he is transforming that proposition into a meaningless, abstract, absurd phrase. The economic situation is the basis, but the various components of the superstructure . . . also exercise their influence upon the course of the historical struggles and in many cases determine their form. . . . We make our own history, but, first of all, under very definite assumptions and conditions. Among these the economic ones are ultimately decisive. But the political ones, etc., and indeed even the traditions which haunt human minds also play a part, although not the decisive one (2009: 61). Storey, J. (2018). Cultural theory and popular culture : An introduction. Taylor & Francis Group. Created from csusm on 2022-03-15 23:13:38. Copyright © 2018. Taylor & Francis Group. All rights reserved. Classical Marxism What Engels claims is that the base produces the superstructural terrain (this terrain and not that), but that the form of activity that takes place there is determined not just by the fact that the terrain was produced and is reproduced by the base (although this clearly sets limits and influences outcomes), but by the interaction of the institutions and the participants as they occupy the terrain. Therefore, although texts and practices are never the ‘primary force’ in history, they can be active agents in historical change or the servants of social stability. A brief discussion of ideology should make the relationship between base and superstructure a little clearer. Marx and Engels (2009) claim that, ‘The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force in society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force’ (58). What they mean by this is that the dominant class, on the basis of its ownership of, and control over, the means of material production (the mode of production), is virtually guaranteed to have control over the means of intellectual production. However, this does not mean that the ideas of the ruling class are simply imposed on subordinate classes. A ruling class is ‘compelled . . . to represent its interest as the common interest of all the members of society . . . to give its ideas the form of universality, and represent them as the only rational, universally valid ones’ (59). Unless we include both formulations (ruling ideas and compulsion, and especially the way the second qualifies the first), we arrive at a very simplified notion of power: one in which class struggle is replaced by social control; where power is simply something imposed rather than something for which men and women have to struggle. During periods of social transformation ideological struggle becomes chronic: as Marx (1976a) points out, it is in the ‘ideological forms’ of the superstructure (which include the texts and practices of popular culture) that men and women ‘become conscious of . . . conflict and fight it out’ (4). A classical Marxist approach to popular culture would above all else insist that to understand and explain a text or practice it must always be situated in its historical moment of production, analysed in terms of the historical conditions that produced it. There are dangers here: historical conditions are reduced to the mode of production and the superstructural becomes a passive reflection of the base. It is crucial, as Engels and Marx warn, and, as Thompson demonstrates (see Chapter 3), to keep in play a subtle dialectic between ‘agency’ and ‘structure’. For example, a full analysis of nineteenth-century stage melodrama (one of the first culture industries) would have to weave together into focus both the changes in the mode of production that made stage melodrama’s audience a possibility and the theatrical traditions that generated its form. The same also holds true for a full analysis of music hall (another early culture industry). Although in neither instance should performance be reduced to changes in the material forces of production, what would be insisted on is that a full analysis of stage melodrama or music hall would not be possible without reference to the changes in theatre attendance brought about by changes in the mode of production. It is these changes, a Marxist analysis would argue, that ultimately produced the conditions of possibility for the performance of a play like My Poll and My Partner Joe1 and for the emergence and success of a music hall performer like Marie Lloyd. In this way, then, a Marxist analysis would insist that ultimately, however indirectly, there is nevertheless Storey, J. (2018). Cultural theory and popular culture : An introduction. Taylor & Francis Group. Created from csusm on 2022-03-15 23:13:38. 63 64 Chapter 4 Marxisms a real and fundamental relationship between the emergence of stage melodrama and music hall and changes that took place in the capitalist mode of production. I have made a similar argument about the invention of the ‘traditional’ English Christmas in the nineteenth century (Storey, 2008, 2010a, 2016). Copyright © 2018. Taylor & Francis Group. All rights reserved. The English Marxism of William Morris William Morris, according to E.P. Thompson (1976), is the first English Marxist. Although best known as a designer and poet, Morris was, in his later life, also a revolutionary socialist. He joined the first British Marxist party, the Democratic Federation, in 1883. The following year he formed the Socialist League (other founding members included Eleanor Marx, the youngest daughter of Karl Marx). His commitment to the cause was total, and he involved himself in all aspects of its work, from political campaigns to editing and selling its newspaper, The Commonweal. Morris’s contribution to Marxist thought is extensive. Here I shall discuss only one aspect, his critique of capitalist society in terms of art and alienation and how this provides an implicit commentary on what is popular culture. Like Marx and Engels, Morris argued that creative labour is not just an activity to be enjoyed or avoided: it is an essential part of what makes us human. Industrial capitalism, with its repetition, its long hours and its denial of creativity, engenders what Marx called the alienation of labour. As Marx explained, the worker ‘does not fulfil himself in his work . . . does not develop freely a physical and mental energy, but is physically exhausted and mentally debased’ (1963: 177). This situation is compounded by the fact that work ‘is not the satisfaction of a need, but only a means for satisfying other needs’ (177; original emphasis). Lacking the ability to find herself (i.e. express her natural creativity) in her work, she is forced to seek it outside her work. ‘The worker therefore feels himself at home only during his leisure, whereas at work he feels homeless’ (177). In other words, she works to earn money in order to express her natural creativity (denied to her in industrial work) in patterns of consumption (see Storey 2017). On the basis of this analysis, making art is seen as an ideal model of how work should be experienced. Accordingly, Morris’s definition of art is not the narrow definition as, for example, used in traditional forms of art history; for Morris it includes all creative human production. ‘I use the word art in a wider sense than is commonly used. . . . To a Socialist a house, a knife, a cup, a steam engine, or . . . anything . . . that is made by man and has form, must either be a work of art or destructive to art’ (1979: 84). Ultimately, for Morris, art is ‘the expression of pleasure in the labour of production’ (84). Under the conditions of industrial capitalism, ‘founded on the art-lacking or unhappy labour of the greater part of men’ (85), only the artist can achieve such pleasure. A fundamental part of the promise of socialism is that it will extend this pleasure to all humankind. Rejecting assembly line methods of production (‘Fordism’), labour under socialism will use ‘the whole of a man for the production of a piece of goods, and not small portions Storey, J. (2018). Cultural theory and popular culture : An introduction. Taylor & Francis Group. Created from csusm on 2022-03-15 23:13:38. Copyright © 2018. Taylor & Francis Group. All rights reserved. The English Marxism of William Morris of many men’ (87). Art, therefore, is not for Morris an ornamental addition to everyday life; it is the very substance of what makes us truly human. In a non-alienated world of communist social relations, the worker is returned to herself (i.e. to an ability to express his natural creativity in his labour). Like Morris, Marx and Engels understand this in terms of popular art: ‘The exclusive concentration of artistic talent in particular individuals, and its suppression in the broad mass which is bound up with this, is a consequence of division of labour. . . . In a communist society there are no painters but at most people who engage in painting among other activities’ (1974: 109). The end of capitalism means the end of the division of labour. ‘In communist society . . . nobody has an exclusive area of activity and each can train himself in any branch he wishes . . . making it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, breed cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I like without ever becoming a hunter, a fisherman, a herdsman, or a critic’ (quoted in McLellan, 1982: 36). In other words, in a non-alienated, communist society all men and women will work like artists: all work will in effect produce popular art, because all work will be creative. As Morris insisted, ‘What business have we with art at all unless all can share it? (1986: 139). Moreover, ‘The absence of popular art from modern times is more disquieting and grievous to bear for this reason than for any other, that it betokens that fatal division of men into the cultivated and the degraded classes which competitive commerce [capitalism] has bred and fosters’ (139). The end of alienation will mean the end of the distinction between culture and popular culture. Morris’s (2003)  novel News From Nowhere describes a twenty-first-century, post-revolutionary England. Guest, the novel’s main character, falls asleep in the 1880s and wakes up in the twenty-first century to discover that England has undergone a revolution in 1952–54 and is now a non-alienated, communist society. Goods made to sell for profit have been replaced by goods produced to the satisfaction of the worker and to meet the needs of the community. In similar fashion, private ownership has been replaced by common use. Moreover, art as a separate category has disappeared, as art and creativity are now fully integrated into the routines of everyday life. The novel should not be read as a literal picture of a future society. Rather, it should be read as a political incitement to make the society Guest finds in twenty-first-century England. The aim of the novel is ‘the education of desire’ (Thompson, 1976): that is, to make men and women aware of the possibility of a non-alienated society and to educate their desire to make such a society. As Morris observed, capitalism ‘has reduced the workman to such a skinny and pitiful existence, that he scarcely knows how to frame a desire for any life much better than that which he now endures’ (1986: 37). Morris wishes to educate the desire for a ‘life much better’, hoping that to allow men and women to think of such a life is to create the desire for them to make such a life (see Storey 2018). News From Nowhere provides a beautiful example of what Morris, Marx and Engels had in mind when they envisaged a non-alienated, communist society. The novel depicts a world a million miles away from the authoritarian horrors of the Stalinism of the Soviet Union; moreover, it is a society in which the distinction between culture and popular culture, and the corresponding divisions of social class, no longer exist. Storey, J. (2018). Cultural theory and popular culture : An introduction. Taylor & Francis Group. Created from csusm on 2022-03-15 23:13:38. 65 66 Chapter 4 Marxisms The Frankfurt School The Frankfurt School is the name given to a group of German intellectuals associated with the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt. The Institute was established in 1923. Following the coming to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in 1933, it moved to New York, attaching itself to the University of Columbia. In 1949 it moved back to Germany. ‘Critical Theory’ is the name given to the Institute’s critical mix of Marxism and psychoanalysis. The Institute’s work on popular culture is mostly associated with the writings of Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Max Horkheimer, Leo Lowenthal and Herbert Marcuse. In 1944 Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer (1979) coined the term ‘culture industry’ to designate the products and processes of mass culture. The products of the culture industry, they claim, are marked by two features: homogeneity, ‘film, radio and magazines make up a system which is uniform as a whole and in every part . . . all mass culture is identical’ (120–1); and predictability: Copyright © 2018. Taylor & Francis Group. All rights reserved. As soon as the film begins, it is quite clear how it will end, and who will be rewarded, punished, or forgotten. In light music [popular music], once the trained ear has heard the first notes of the hit song, it can guess what is coming and feel flattered when it does come. . . . The result is a constant reproduction of the same thing (125, 134). While Arnold and Leavisism had worried that popular culture represented a threat to cultural and social authority, the Frankfurt School argue that it actually produces the opposite effect: it maintains cultural and social authority. Where Arnold and Leavis saw ‘anarchy’, the Frankfurt School see only ‘conformity’: a situation in which ‘the deceived masses’ (133) are caught in a ‘circle of manipulation and retroactive need in which the unity of the system grows ever stronger’ (121). Here is Adorno reading an American situation comedy about a young schoolteacher who is both underpaid (some things do not change), and continually fined by her school principal. As a result, she is without money and therefore without food. The humour of the storyline consists in her various attempts to secure a meal at the expense of friends and acquaintances. In his reading of this situation comedy, Adorno is guided by the assumption that while it is always difficult, if not impossible, to establish the unmistakable ‘message’ of a work of ‘authentic’ culture, the ‘hidden message’ of a piece of mass culture is not at all difficult to discern. According to Adorno (1991a), ‘the script implies’ that: If you a…
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