On the Dichotomy of the Elegant and the Popular
2023年02月08日 10:44 来源:Social Sciences in China Press 作者:Nan Fan

  Nan Fan

  Fujian Academy of Social Sciences

  Abstract:The theoretical dichotomy of the elegant (ya) and the popular or common (su) has a long history and many branches, provoking Babel-like confusion of tongues. Both have their own aesthetic origins, and each is interpreted in relation to sociological categories such as social class and social strata. No abstract and absolute definition of the two concepts exists.The yayue (formal ceremonial music) of ancient China is an important early example of the elegant or refined, whereas the popular usually prevails at the lower levels of mass society.In the course of history, the accumulation of professional knowledge, selected classics, avant garde “art for art’s sake,” and leisure class activities have often been considered “elegant,”while the experience of the masses, folk revelry, and the content of mass media have been considered “popular.” In modern literary history, the concepts of enlightenment and class were drawn into the dichotomy of the elegant and the popular in different ways. In Chinese culture in the second half of the twentieth century, this dichotomy began to be reorganized around the notions of “art” and “commodity.” The reconceptualization of elegance and popularity at each stage of history has often indicated a reconnection between aesthetic tastes and history. In this sense, the differentiation of elegance and popularity has always testified to culture’s participation in history.

  Keywords:elegance, popularity, dichotomy of elegance and popularity, masses, enlightenment, class, market

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