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Tony Bennett Is A Leading Character Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 2787 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Tony Bennett is a leading character in contemporary western cultural studies, and a famous Marxism critic on theory of literature and art. He is also well-known for his research in cultural policies and mechanism. Bennetts research on museum constitutes an important part of his mechanism studies, which is closely related to his cultural studies and correspondences with his pragmatic method on cultural policies studies. This thesis centers on analysis Bennetts museum studies, to understand the mechanism of museum and politics discourse. The governmentality theory is applied to analyze the complex relations between knowledge and power in museum, and the relations between museum and the public. Besides, from the perspectives of memory and narrative, analysis is giving to understand Bennetts research on evolutionary museums of ethnic narrative and colonial governance. In addition, it reflects on the heritage of Bennetts museum studies, and gives an evaluation on it. The study is carried out from the following aspects.

The Introduction is mainly on the academic background of Tony Bennett, his theoretical routing. Then analysis will give to the present research conditions of Bennett, and the meaning and scope of the research on theme of Bennetts museum studies.

Chapter one is to form a general understanding of the museum, the notion of it, its origin, development routing and background. Discussion will give to the relation of museum and cultural studies, how museum studies are related to cultural studies, especially Bennetts cultural policy studies. Besides, it will analyze the basis for Bennetts interest in the research on the mechanisms of museum.

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Chapter two based on the relations between culture and governance to analysis Bennetts museum studies. First, from the perspective of museum as a culture institution, it divides the museum into different categories of collection, architecture, exhibition and representation according to its basic dimensionalities on the mechanism of museum. Second, from the perspective of governmentality, a Foucaulian approach is taken to explore the relations between museum and the practices of government. Third, analysis is giving to the relations between museum and the public, how museum functions as a civic laboratory on popular schooling. Fourth, based on the previous discussion, it further considered Bennetts concept of museum politics.

Chapter three illustrates Bennetts study on the evolutionary museum from the perspectives of memory and narrative, to understand the function of evolutionary museum to recall the past and its role in colonial governance. First, it takes museum as memory machine to analyze the memory function of museum and the memory practices, how museum served as the incubators for new forms of knowledge. Second, from the dimensions of ethnic narrative and colonial governance, especially on the context of colonial Australia previously, it expounds on Bennetts research on the governance practices of evolutionary museum. Lastly, it analyzes how museum is mobilized in new ethnic narrative to make history.

Chapter Four is the reflection on Bennetts museum studies, of its enlightenments to contemporary museum studies, to expound on the new museum idea and the challenges that posed to museum in new era. Then, it comments on Bennetts methodologies and characteristics on museum studies, to form a critical analysis of the significance of Bennetts museum studies and shortcomings.

Finally, a summary will give to retrospect the above mentioned chapters, further demonstrate the aspects of Bennetts pragmatic studies on museum mechanisms and politics, and to give my expectation for the future work.

Keywords: Tony Bennett, Museum, Governmentality, Memory, Narrative

Tony Bennett is one of the famous scholars in contemporary western Cultural Studies, and an outstanding Marxism critic on theory of literature and art. He is also well-known for his research in cultural policies and mechanism. Bennett was born in 1947, Manchester. He got his bachelor degree of politic, physic and economic from Oxford University, and during his graduate study of sociology in Sussex University he turned his interest to art and literature sociology, so he was interdisciplinary in education background. Since 60-70s of the 20th century, Bennett has been influenced by the CCCS before he engaged in the Birmingham School. He has a close relation with the Birmingham School on theoretic perspectives of Cultural Studies. Though a Ëœlater comer, Bennett is on the position of inheriting and deepening the theoretic tradition of Cultural Studies. Even after the close of CCCS, Bennett remains an active scholar in the realm of cultural studies.

Tony Bennett joined University of Western Sydney as research professor in social and cultural theory at the Centre for Cultural Research in 2009. He is also a member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. As a pragmatic scholar, Bennett spares no effort to transcend the boundary of disciplines to conjuncture social sciences and humanities into his research. He has a broad area of research interest, theses including literary theory, Marxist criticism, cultural sociology, and museum studies etc. The common thread running through his interests concerns how culture is related to power and their relations. Besides his fame as a critic on literature criticism and Marxist aesthetics research, he is often engaged in cultural policy studies, and has played a leading role in the field. Bennett calls on putting policy into cultural studies critically, technically and practically. His cultural sociology studies research on the cultural practice in both Australia and Britain is similar to the pattern of Pierre Boudieu did in France, and he has a critical engagement with the audience and reception theory. Bennetts research on museum is an important aspect of his cultural studies, which is closely linked with his cultural policy studies, to combine cultural studies with government practice pragmatically, so as to fulfill the mission of Ëœorganic intellectual. His museum studies have contributed to the development of the Ëœnew museology which has thrown on the role of museum as an instrument of social governance.

The main works of Bennett including: Culture: Formalism and Marxism (1979), Bond and Beyond: The Political Career of a Popular Hero (1987), Outside Literature (1990), The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics (1995), Museums and Citizenship: A Resource Book (1996), Culture: A Reformers Science (1998), Accounting for Tastes (1999), Pasts Beyond Memories: Evolution, Museums, Colonialism (2004), New Keywords: A Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society (2005), Culture and Society: Collected Essays (2007), Critical Trajectories: Culture, Society, Intellectuals (2007), Culture, Class, Distinction (2009) etc.

In the academia abroad, there is not a specialized book on Bennett, but in the works of many authors, Bennett is frequently cited as important figure in the area of Marxism research and culture policy studies, especially when it comes to his relations with the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS). For example, in The SAGE Dictionary of Cultural Studies, edited by Chris Barker, ËœTony Bennett was included as an entry. It regards Bennett as a member of CCCS, and gives a general introduction of the career of Bennett and his theoretical routing. (C. Barker.) In British Cultural Studies: An Introduction, Graeme Turner has involved the discussion of Bennetts role related to CCCS no matter in the area of sociology, popular culture or cultural policies. (G. Turner) In Post-Marxist Theory-An Introduction, edited by Philip Goldstein, there is one chapter titled: ËœPost-Marxism and Cultural Studies: The Reception Theory of Tony Bennett and John Frow lies in analyzing the reception theory of Tony Bennett and John Frow, of thoughts on Ëœreading formations and Ëœregimes of reading respectively which illustrate the authoritative institutions constitute modern literary study and govern the readers interpretive practices. (P. Goldstein.) Besides, several papers of Bennett have been compiled into other collections. For example, ËœMarxism and Popular Fiction is included in Contemporary Marxism Literary Criticism, edited by Francis Mulhern, with a Chinese version translated by Liu Xiangyu etc. ËœPopular Culture and Turn to Gramsci is included in Approaches to Media-A Reader, edited by Oliver Boyd-Barrett & Chris Newbold, also with a Chinese version. ( O. B. Barrett) ËœPutting Policy into Culture Studies is included in The Cultural Studies Reader, edited by Simon During. ËœThe Shape of the Past is included in Nation, Culture, Text-Australian cultural and media studies, edited by Graeme Turner.( G. Turner) ËœHabit, freedom and the government of social conduct is included as a chapter in Conduct, Sociology and Social Worlds, edited by Liz McFall etc. (L. McFall)

As an active scholar in the academic field on idea exchange and culture discourse, Bennett had come to the mainland twice. While as a visiting professor in Henan University in 2005, he gave a lecture in Beijing Language and Culture University titled ˜British Cultural Studies-Another Paradigm. In 2009, as a visiting professor of Nanjing University, he gave three speeches there, respectively, ˜Culture, History, Habit; ˜Aesthetics, Government, Freedom; and ˜Habitus Clivé: Aesthetics and Politics in the Work of Pierre Bourdieu. As a result, the academic influence of Tony Bennett and researches on Bennett domestically also starts from these universities.

Domestically, the fame of Bennett as a well-known scholar in the western has already aroused our scholars attention, with the strengthening cultural and academic communication, the research on Bennett seems to be in the full swing. The themes can be generally divided into these categories: Marxism aesthetics, literary criticism, intellectual concept and cultural criticism.

First, on the theme of text reading studies, for example, ËœThe Public Reading and Explain Manipulation – on the Reading Theory of Tony Bennett by Zhang Liangcong and ËœText in History – the Marxism Approach of Tony Bennett on Text of Popular Culture by Zhou Hailing, the writers analyzed how Tony Bennett deconstructing the metaphysics of text as a tradition of formalism and the new criticism which regard the text as a self-autonomy object, and Bennetts strategy of putting forward the concept of reading formation between the text and the reader, and the inter-textuality theory, to form a method of text historization practice.

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Second, on the theme of aesthetics, for example, in ËœThe Horizon of Tony Bennetts Marxism Aesthetics by Zhang Yuqin, the author presents with three dimensionalities: from text to history, or historization; from culture to society (related to the mode of popular culture studies); and from criticism to practice (related to the new intellectual concept); and in ËœHistory, Society, Practice-Dimensionality of Tony Bennett Marxism Aesthetics, Zhang explicitly put forward and demonstrated history context, social dimensionality and field of practice as the three theoretical dimensionalities within Bennett Marxism aesthetics studies. Similarly, in ËœThe Study of Tony Bennetts Marxism Aesthetics by Wang Jie, the writer emphasizes Bennetts inheritance of the routing of the traditional British Marxism to raise questions from literary phenomena from the perspective of combining culture and society together, and the theory and practice of Bennett in cultural practice.

Third, on the theme of intellectual, for example, ËœIntellectual is not a role by Tao Dongfeng is an interpretation of the ideal of Bennetts concept on intellectuals. Similarly, ËœIntellectual: a Social Groups from Criticism to Practice-and the Intellectual Concept of Tony Bennett by Cao Chengzhu regards Bennett as representative of the practical intellectual. ËœA Move from Downside Up – A Realistic Approach by Tony Bennett to the Cultural Goal of the Leftist Intellectuals reckons on the role of the leftist intellectuals from the perspective of governmentality and sociology routing.

Fourth, on the theme of cultural criticism, including ËœTony Bennett and 20th British Cultural Studies by Duan Jifang expounds on Tony Bennett’s cultural studies that both echoes the theory tradition of British Cultural Studies and transcended it, especially on the tradition of Marxist aesthetic. ËœTony Bennett and his Political and Cultural Ideas by Luo Ximing, gives a detail presentation of the evolution of Bennett academic thoughts and how Bennett applies the framework of theorization to cultural practice.

Besides, there is one selected works of Tony Bennett, Tony Bennett: Culture and Society, translated by Wang Jie etc, which has made it convenient for our scholar to gain a direct understanding of Bennetts academic thoughts on different areas. The book is divided into 5 parts with different themes: aesthetics, social history and text, culture and governmentality, the governmentality of museum and the function of intellectuals respectively, featured with several papers on each chapter. Tony Bennett specially writes a preface for it, titled ËœMy Research on Cultural Studies-Writing for the Chinese Readers. Still, there are two interviews of Bennett domestically, namely ËœAesthetics, Society, Politics-an Interview with Tony Bennett by Wang Jie & Xu Fangfu; and ËœPolitics for Revising Cultural Studies-an Interview with Tony Bennett by Jin Huimin.

In addition, there are some translations of Bennetts papers have been published. For example, ËœCultural Studies and Intellectual – A Conversation with Tony Bennett translated by Tao Dongfeng which is included in Literature and Art Studies (2006); ËœPutting Policy into Culture Studies was include in Cultural Studies-A Reader (2000), edited by Luo Gang & Liu Xiangyu; ËœIntellectuals, Culture, Policy: the Technical, the Practical, and the Critical is included in Cultural Studies, Volume 2, edited by Tao Dongfeng. ËœPopular Culture and Turn to Gramsci translated by Lu Yang is included in Popular Culture Studies (2001); ËœCultural Studies: a Pragmatic Approach is included in Cultural Studies: An Essential Reader (2006), edited by Tao Dongfeng.

From what stated above, it seems that the study on Bennett, no matter at home or abroad, is only at its early stage, especially the domestic scholars understanding of Bennett is so limited, which is disproportion to Bennetts significant status in the academic field worldwide. As we can see, the themes of researches on Bennett mainly focus on Marxist aesthetics and the perspective of literary criticism, or from the theoretical scheme of Bennetts cultural criticism. As to the researches on Tony Bennetts cultural criticism studies, they are mainly on the introduction of the general transformation of Bennetts academic thoughts, his theoretical routing, and Bennetts relationship with the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS). Though they have made some achievements to introduce the academic thoughts of Bennett, there is still a long way to go before we complete the long pilgrimage journey and make something new out of it based on the context domestically. However, that is the true meaning of Cultural Studies. Besides, there is not a research exclusively focusing on the theme of Bennetts museum studies to reckon on the relations between museum and governance, and to interpret the content and meaning of Bennetts pragmatic research on institution mechanism and policies. Actually, these aspects are among the main focus of Bennett. This thesis expects to gain some breakthrough in these aspects.

This thesis centers on the analysis of Tony Bennetts museum studies, to understand the mechanism of museum and political discourse, and to relate it with cultural studies at a whole. The governmentality theory is applied to explore the relations between museum and governance, which entails a concern with the relations between cultural practice and the operation of museum as a culture institution, and to see how museum is operated as a technique in modern state for the self-monitoring and self-regulation of the public. Besides, from the perspectives of memory and narrative, analysis is giving to understand Bennetts research on evolutionary museums of ethnic narrative and colonial governance. It is expected to present a comprehensive analysis of Tony Bennetts museum studies.


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