Advertising and popular culture — страница 14

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or letters were understood to include all writing of quality with any pretense to permanence. [focuses on textual criteria]39 ... literature is a canon which consists of those works in language by which a community defines itself throughout the course of its history. It includes works primarily artistic and also those whose aesthetic qualities are only secondary. The self-defining activity of the community is conducted in the light of the works, as its members have come to read them (or concretize them). [focuses on community acceptance]40 Whether one of these or yet another definition of literature is preferred, there is a widely shared sense that literature stands apart from more ordinary texts such as telephone books, shopping lists, operating instructions, and advertisements.

A practical approach to understanding literature might enumerate some widely shared characteristics: - Literature consists of written texts. - Literature is marked by careful use of language, including features such as creative metaphors, well-turned phrases, elegant syntax, rhyme, meter. - Literature is written in a literary genre (poetry, prose fiction, or drama). - Literature is intended by its authors to be read aesthetically. - Literature is deliberately somewhat open in interpretation.41 Are advertisements "writings of quality with pretenses to permanence"? Are advertisements widely understood to be a form of literature? Are they careful in their use of language, written in a recognizable literary genre, intended to be and actually read aesthetically, and

deliberately open in interpretation? In fact, advertisements fail by any of these definitions to qualify as literature. It is this difference that gives rise to the sense that literature is a part of "high" culture while advertisements are something else and belong to "low," or mass, culture. However, this binary division does not reflect the real relationship of literature and advertising either in the present or the past. The literary theorist Jennifer Wicke argues that neither the novel as a literary genre nor the advertisement as a text can be properly understood alone but rather share a long and intimate history. She notes that prior to Gutenberg, scribal manuscripts contained advertisements (or notices) that explained the circumstances of the copying.

For example, a notice that copying had been done during holy days would signify that the text was not to be sold. At first, such notices appeared at the end of manuscripts. Later, after the printing press was invented, printers began placing them as prefatory material before the main texts. The content of these notices expanded to announce, describe, and indicate ownership of the texts that followed. Thus, the very technology of printing spurred the development of advertisements of printed texts. Elizabeth Eisenstein, investigating this historic relationship of the book and the ad, writes: "In the course of exploiting new publicity techniques, few authors failed to give high priority to publicizing themselves. The art of puffery, the writing of blurbs and other familiar

promotional devices were also exploited by early printers who worked aggressively to obtain public recognition for the authors and artists whose products they hoped to sell."42 This promotion of printed works by printers also led to the significant identification of texts with authors. The crediting of the author had not always occurred previously when oral stories were written down. These new techniques established books as intellectual property and made many authors into celebrities. These early advertisements eventually became separated from the texts themselves. "By the late seventeenth century... [these] publicity techniques called 'advertising' had slipped out from the covers of literary works and helped to create the newspaper—The Advertiser became a generic

name for journalistic offerings." At this point, advertisements as we know them today began to develop separately from books, appearing not only in newspapers but in public spaces as signs and posters as well. In the 19th century, the novel emerged as the most important literary genre and remained so until film, radio, and television challenged its popularity it in the 20th century. After advertisements became separate and independent texts in their own right, the relationship between literature and advertising did not cease. Rather, it assumed complex new forms, as Wicke shows in her masterful analysis of three classic novelists—Charles Dickens, Henry James, and James Joyce. In several of the novels by Charles Dickens (Sketches by Boz, Pickwick, The Old Curiosity Shop,