Between Mass Culture and Mid Culture lies the Upper Middle Brow

"Its purpose is to make consciousness safe for the upper middle class. The salient characteristic of that class, as a moral entity, is a kind of Victorian engorgement with its own virtue. Its need is for an art that will disturb its self-delight." - William Deresiewicz

From Upper Middle Brow: The Culture of the Creative Class for The American Scholar.

Paralleling our present day, professor of English at the City University of New York, Morris Dickstein, writes about the growth of the arts in response to the Great Depression.

American culture of the 1930s resists being conveniently divided into serious and popular; rather it falls into degrees of direct or oblique reactions to those dire, unprecedented social conditions.

Read Facing the Music.

Paralleling our present day, professor of English at the City University of New York, Morris Dickstein, writes about the growth of the arts in response to the Great Depression.

American culture of the 1930s resists being conveniently divided into serious and popular; rather it falls into degrees of direct or oblique reactions to those dire, unprecedented social conditions.

Read Facing the Music.

55 years ago…

So today’s adolescents turn to the weekly picture magazines, to the documentary films, to the real life stories of public men and women, trying to model their career lines after people whom they do not know personally but whom they have been led to believe they may come to know through pictures, through “verbatim” interviews, through broadcasts and telecasts. Uninformed by the imagination or the disciplined skill of the artist or writer and unillumined by the point-for-point correspondence semiposed, semidoctored accounts come to have the quality of a cliché.

Even in 1956, Margaret Mead noted in our Autumn issue how the youth culture focused on emulating those in the public eye, in “Our Documentary Culture.” Even today her statement still holds truth…