Literature and Popularity: Shakespeare as a Mediator between the ‘Class’ and the ‘Mass’
Keywords:Literature, Popular, Class, Mass, Civilization, Modernity, Popular CulturE
Shakespeare has enjoyed immense popularity and recognition among ‘elite’ critics like Ben Jonson in his own time, and Dr Samuel Johnson, Coleridge, Matthew Arnold, T S Eliot among others, till Harold Bloom in the 21st century, not to mention the enormous body of film adaptations, translations, music adaptations and various other mass-media through which he still dominates the ‘popular culture’. This is the reason why his case becomes a curious one as far as literature and popularity are concerned. The new century has brought a whole host of new technological artefacts within hand’s reach of all but the poorest denizens of the city street – the cell phone, the iPad, and attendant applications that help us navigate the city and connect and network cyber and physical spaces. These technologies are creating new cultures, material and aesthetic, cyber and physical space-making of new kinds that do not simply alter older traditions but transmogrify them into new shapes and flows. This paper aims at studying how we define the popular aspect of literature. How have erudite and popular cultures been studied in the 20th and 21st centuries? Where does Shakespeare stand in the debate?
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