In contrast to other books on 'culture', this study does not provide a history of the concept, it proposes an analysis of what might be called the underlying grammar or 'logic' of the category. Ray argues that the disparate models, ideologies, and ethics that have been advanced in the name of culture - or in opposition to it - all derive from a fundamental shift in our ways of thinking about law, authority, and social life that occurred well before the advent of modernity. This overview shows how the new logic formed in the collective imagination under pressure from discursive innovations in areas such as periodical journalism, the novel, educational theory, and the art museum. Blending close analysis of these mechanisms in 18th-century France into a broad historical and theoretical synthesis, Ray argues that the logic of culture, now as then, induces us to determine our proper place within the social hierarchy, consolidates belief in law through its critique, and inculcates norms through the organization of dissent.
William Ray teaches literature, literary theory, and the Humanities at Reed College. He has previously taught at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh and the University of Oregon. His previous books include Literary Meaning (Blackwell Publishers, 1984) and Story and History (Blackwell Publishers, 1990) He is currently working on the evolution of fiction in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as a mechanism of social stratification.
Series Editor's Preface. Preface.Introduction: The Paradox of Culture.1. The Roots of Cultural Logic.2. Inventing Culture.3. Instituting Culture.4. Culture, Critique and Community. Notes.Index.