Is Art Good for Us?: Beliefs about High Culture in American Life

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9780742517400: Is Art Good for Us?: Beliefs about High Culture in American Life

Are the arts good for us? This book questions our taken-for-granted assumptions about the transformational powers of high culture by critiquing an instrumental American heritage of beliefs about the arts. Jensen argues that faith in high culture's unproven ability to transform people and society allows social critics to keep faith with the idea of a democratic society while deploring popular culture. Employing perspectives from Tocqueville and Dewey, she argues that the arts are good, but they don't do good. Instead of expecting the arts to improve things (and blaming the media for ruining them) we need to recognize that it is up to us, not 'the arts' to make the world a better place.

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About the Author:

Joli Jensen is professor of communication at the University of Tulsa.

Review:

In this brilliant work, Joli Jensen speaks with the reach and range and assurance of the public intellectuals she has read so carefully. She shows that 'we have not been thinking or talking wisely or well about the arts.' Through original readings of Alexis de Tocqueville, Walt Whitman, Lewis Mumford, and John Dewey, she argues that the mass media are not so bad nor 'art' so good for us as public discourse assumes. In clear-headed, strong, and almost breathtakingly lucid prose, she helps us reconsider what we want and expect of art, criticism, and democracy. What a gift this book is! (Schudson, Michael)

Stimulating read. (Financial Times)

Its refreshing honesty and forthrightness require a solid argumentation, and Jensen delivers through a detailed examination and critique of the underpinnings of the instrumentalist position in social and art criticism through successive moments from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The integration of social criticism or analysis of artistic practice and communicative policies offers innovative and fresh insights and holds out a promise for a new direction in arts policy. This book should be required reading for those in the spheres of cultural-policy work and social criticism. Its clear and compelling message should be heeded by all of us who care about art, creativity, and democracy. (College Art Association)

Joli Jensen pulls all of the right strings in this fascinating analysis. (Taylor, Andrew Artsjournal.Com)

The bluntness of Joli Jensen's title indicates the no-nonsense approach she takes to making a public case for the arts. . . . The resulting book is, quite literally, required reading. I'm assigning this volume as the opening text for my 'Cultural Policy and the Arts' graduate seminar this semester, because it frames, historicizes, and argues the essential questions so cogently. (Ann Daly)

Joli Jensen makes an elegant case against the modern cult of art: It isn't what art purportedly does to us, but what we do with art that matters. Jensen reveals art's true significance by defending the universality of its experience. (Charles Paul Freund)

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Book Description ROWMAN LITTLEFIELD, United States, 2002. Hardback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Are the arts good for us? This book questions our taken-for-granted assumptions about the transformational powers of high culture by critiquing an instrumental American heritage of beliefs about the arts. Jensen argues that faith in high culture s unproven ability to transform people and society allows social critics to keep faith with the idea of a democratic society while deploring popular culture. Instead of expecting the arts to improve things (and blaming the media for ruining them) we need to recognize that it is up to us, not the arts to make the world a better place. Bookseller Inventory # ANB9780742517400

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Book Description ROWMAN LITTLEFIELD, United States, 2002. Hardback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Are the arts good for us? This book questions our taken-for-granted assumptions about the transformational powers of high culture by critiquing an instrumental American heritage of beliefs about the arts. Jensen argues that faith in high culture s unproven ability to transform people and society allows social critics to keep faith with the idea of a democratic society while deploring popular culture. Instead of expecting the arts to improve things (and blaming the media for ruining them) we need to recognize that it is up to us, not the arts to make the world a better place. Bookseller Inventory # ANB9780742517400

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