Talk:High culture

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pop culture[edit]

I think that they are both equal. There is simularites of high culture in in pop culture and the othere way around.

Your viewpoint is not uncommon and represents the inverse of elitism, and someone sharing this view would not use terms like high culture vs popular culture at all. Nixdorf 10:29, 2005 Feb 4 (UTC)

It is generally assumed that a distinction exists between High culture and Low culture in that Low culture is easily accessible but shows obvious flaws that the devotees of High Culture find objectionable.

It seems that something is high culture if it

(1) is antiquarian in appeal or else is 'timeless'

(2) has appeal across national lines and across age groups

(3) requires a high level of intellectual effort to create or perform

(4) is difficult to imitate

(5) gets respect from other artists

(6) does not have populist distortions, as in Kitsch, and

(7) is competent in execution.

A provincial effort such as American country music is generally not considered High culture. If it is old and amateurish and it appears in any esthetic context, it appears more likely in archeology than in art. Note well that most medieval European art is not considered High culture because it ordinarily falls short of the professionalism that one associates with the High Renaissance and later times. It can contain folk elements, as in sting quartets of Béla Bartók and Dmitri Shostakovich.

If it has only transitory appeal, it is not High culture. This separates fads from the more lasting High culture. Can artistic efforts become High culture after having been derided at the time of their execution? Sure; such was so with Impressionist painting. Can it disappear and be rediscovered? In music, such was the fate of the music of J.S. Bach and Gustav Mahler.

Can something go from populist appeal to High art? Sure. Jazz. It could be that the paintings of Norman Rockwell, easily accessible to mass audiences when he was alive and active, won't be so obviously accessible 50 years after his death.

Country music is not likely to be considered High art unless it shows something characteristic of High Art -- like virtuosity in performance, as by Roy Clark.

So let us look at the paintings of Hokusai: which of those criteria describe them?

(1)Those paintings are old now even if they seem current.

(2)They are clearly not works intended solely for children.

(3) Do you think that anyone else, anywhere, at any time, could paint like that?

(4) See #3.

(5) European Impressionist artists learned a few things from his paintings.

(6) They are definitely not kitsch, and

(7) they fit the normal rules of esthetics.--Paul from Michigan (talk) 01:08, 17 February 2009 (UTC)


Someone needs to elaborate more on the changes in high culture (i.e all forms of theatre was once shunned). This article also needs to be less eurocentric. Perhaps more sections on what is/was considered high culture in other cultures like China, Japan, ancient Egypt?--Countakeshi 12:26, 10 July 2005 (UTC)


Every single sentence of this article is questionable, or demonstrably wrong. Questionable, for example, is the idea that high culture has anything to do with the renaissance: there was a distinction between sophisticated and vulgar culture in antiquity and the middle ages, and the renaissance did not introduce any new distinction. Wrong, for example, is the statement that high culture is the culture of the upper classes: that ceased to be true in the 18th century. In fact, the self-conscious emphasis on protecting high culture from lowbrow culture was the peculiar invention of the 19th century middle class. This whole article seems to have been created out of whole cloth by people who have never even looked into the subject. 06:56, 21 July 2005 (UTC)


What are the sources for this article, other than the author's opinion?? 28 MArch 2006 Kemet

  • I agree - the phrase presumably has a German C18/19 origin & well-established history (Lessing? Goethe?), which someone who knows what they are talking about should write up.

The related "High Art" should be covered too Johnbod

re-write article[edit]

I have now wholly replaced the old text, but it could do with plenty of expansion, and references Johnbod 20:06, 6 January 2007 (UTC) Insert non-formatted text here

What sources were used, or based on already known knowledge? -- Stbalbach 15:12, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

dead white males[edit]

Regarding this sentence:

In America, Harold Bloom has taken a more exclusive line in a number of works, as did F.R. Leavis earlier - both, like Arnold, being mainly concerned with literature, and unafraid to champion vociferously the Dead white males of the Western canon.

I understand what is being said within a certain context, but for most people it will probably not pass the NPOV test, it seems to disparage the Great Books as "dead white males" - which sadly many people do as a reason not to read them. Can we remove dead white males, or source it, or re-phrase more gently to the western canon? -- Stbalbach 15:12, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

I put it in as a link, and something of a balancing item in the context of mentioning Bloom & Leavis. Maybe putting it in quotes also would be enough? I'll do that. The talk page on the dwm article claims, plausibly I think, that the term is now mainly used by supporters of the Western canon rather than opponents. But cut it if you like. Johnbod 16:14, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
How about if we just said:
In America, Harold Bloom has taken a more exclusive line in a number of works, as did F.R. Leavis earlier - both, like Arnold, being mainly concerned with literature of the Western canon.
For Wikipedia purposes it is more neutral and doesn't cast a value judgment one way or another about the nature or worth of the western canon. Not saying it's "better", just more neutral, I can see this being a problem with other editors in the future. -- Stbalbach 16:46, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

weird edit[edit]

Regarding this edit of mine [1] - very strange. The only thing I did was add a link to classic literature. I didn't delete anything, and I didn't change the section header to "Sociology" (if you want to change it go ahead) - no idea what happened there. Ghost in the machine. -- Stbalbach 16:35, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

No problem - I didn't think it was like you. It goes back to a previous edit of mine - conceivably we were doing them at the same time in an edit conflict that slipped under the wire Johnbod 16:39, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

Year of Beginning of High Art for Japan[edit]

I put the year which high arts could be considered to have produced for Japan from "about 1,000 AD" to "about 700AD". The reasoning for this is that this is roughly the start of Nara period, and with a wide adoption of Chinese characters, poems were written down for the first time and this was done not only to preserve praises of rulers, but to record the beauty of poems. Also, the construction of Tōdai-ji was started among other attempts to create arts, so there was multiple developments by many rather than a whim of a ruler. --Revth 06:56, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

Japanese painting circa 1800 has influenced non-Japanese painting, so Japan certainly belongs upon the list of countries associated with High culture. --Paul from Michigan (talk) 01:11, 17 February 2009 (UTC)


Can cinema be considered High culture? Sure, there is much cinematic dreck, but nobody would ever confuse Casablanca with Gigli -- right?--Paul from Michigan (talk) 01:11, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

Definitive Definition[edit]

"High culture" will never find a definitive definition but generalizations can be made to encapsulate how the term is used.

The term "high culture" is commonly used to mean:

- created by well-trained, talented people and therefore is higher quality than low culture

- less crude or more refined than low culture

- embedded with intellectual or moralistic concepts lacking in low culture which provides pleasure only

- a repository of cultural history and traditions

None of these generalizations hold true in all cases and I'm sure anger people who find high culture snobbish and boarding (yet more generalizations), but I think even those who dislike these generalizations must agree this is how the term "high culture" is used.


Merging High culture into Fine art is probably a better solution. Hafspajen (talk) 13:01, 12 May 2013 (UTC)

Beter than what? Anyway, no because Fine art (singular) usually just means vsual art, whereas high culture includes all the humanities and maybe more. Johnbod (talk) 13:23, 12 May 2013 (UTC)
The terms high culture and highbrow do not overlap each other entirely, so a merge would be meaningless. --Omnipaedista (talk) 08:22, 13 November 2013 (UTC)