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Really what you are…

The Scientific Association of Dutch Studies of the University of Wrocław invites students and doctoral students of Polish universities to participate in a nationwide conference in the series 'Dutch Studies Interdisciplinarily'. The tenth edition of the conference is entitled ", or let's talk about pop culture" and will take place on 2 June 2022 on the MS Teams platform.

At this year’s edition of our conference we want to discuss pop culture. To think together about what it actually is? How does it manifest itself, what are its characteristics? The Universal Dictionary of the Polish Language edited by Prof. Dubisz (2003) defines pop culture as a type of culture generally accessible to and enjoyed by the masses – hence its other names: mass culture or popular culture. For many, however, it will be mostly meaningless entertainment or a degradation of art with higher aspirations. Nowadays, it is hardly surprising that, in order to relax, most people will reach for a new Marvel production rather than a novel by Dostoyevsky.

The origins of pop culture essentially date back to the 19th century. It was treated as a response to the needs of the then emerging social class – the proletariat – and was considered in opposition to high culture. The turbulent twentieth century accelerated its natural evolution, and the development of mass media, the progressive Americanisation or globalisation of the world made it a serious competitor to elite culture. Recently, the so-called new media and the phenomenon of convergence have begun to play a significant role in the transformation of pop culture and the reception of this phenomenon. The intensification of the permeation process of low and high culture means that we are often unable to clearly define what is “low/popular” and what is “high/elite”. At the same time, we increasingly understand how pop culture could and can be used as an ideological tool. It is not uncommon, therefore, that we are confronted with the dilemma: “popular culture – safe haven or murder of individuality”?

There’s no doubt that it’s difficult to navigate the world these days without a minimum knowledge of pop culture. People follow – sometimes uncritically – the trends and standards it sets. A. Huxley, for example, warned against the degradation and uniformity of society under the influence of mass culture in “A Brave New World”. Almost a century later, it turns out that many of the ideas presented in his book are reflected in the reality around us. So is it possible to function today without being familiar with pop culture?

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Published by: Maria Kozan

11 May 2022

last modification: 11 May 2022