Changes in my Perception of Pop Culture through Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

28 Apr

I have learned a lot about pop culture after taking Engl 1102 class this semester. As a result of taking this class, many of my perceptions of pop culture have changed. When I first entered the class, I only considered shows such as The Jersey Shore as pop culture. However, during the semester I have learned that any form of media can be considered pop culture as long as it makes a  impact on our society so I include the novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke as pop culture as well. Some changes in my perception of pop culture can be shown in the genre, characters, and analytical value of the novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

From the beginning of the semester to now, one of my conceptions that has changed is the genre of pop culture. In the beginning of the semester, I thought that pop culture mostly consisted in the forms of TV shows such as the Jersey Shore because it was easy to gain mass popularity. I classify Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell as pop culture now as it has been on the New York Time’s best seller list and won several awards. It has sold over 250,000 copies. It is clear that Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell has a very large following, and deserves to be classified as pop culture, even as a book. My view of the genre of pop culture has expanded from being just reality tv shows to books.

Another characteristic of what I consider to be pop culture is the quality of the characters. As I mentioned before, at the beginning of the semester I mostly considered reality tv shows such as Jersey Shore to be pop culture. I thought that pop culture consisted mostly of vapid personas. However, now that I understand Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell can be considered pop culture, my view of the characters in pop culture has changed as well. In the novel, Susanna Clarke provides an extreme amount of details for even minor charactors. For example, she spends several pages describing how servants of a minor character are experiencing change as they have moved from living and serving in the countryside to the city. She describes how the city servants make fun of the new country servants and their strange country mannerisms. This examples serves to illustrate that Clarke creates an insane amount of detail about her characters. Clarke provides even more detail about the main characters. My view of characters in pop culture has changed from vapid celebrity personalities to personalities that can be rich in detail and depth.

Finally, one of the major facets of pop culture that has changed for me is its value outside of entertainment. My example before of Jersey Shore remains a star example of my early conception of pop culture. Many friends I know watch the show just because they like to laugh at the stupid things each character is doing and the riduclous conflicts between the actors on Jersey Shore. People will just watch the Jersey Shore for mindless entertainment. This is another aspect of pop culture that I understand differently now that can be reflected in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. The novel is rich in symbolism and allows for a lot of analysis. For example, the society of magicians in the beginning of the book can provide for a lot of analysis. The magicians only study magic, however no one performs it. Performing it is for street musicians, which are not gentlemen of the society of magic. This can be analysed as a stab at academia – people who only write theories about things but they never go out and try them themselves. This is only one of many subjects for analysis in the novel. My understanding of what the value of pop culture is outside entertainment has changed from mindless entertainment to entertainment with a lot of room for analysis.

My perceptions of pop culture are almost completely different as a result of taking this class. Coming into the class, I expected pop culture to be shows such as Jersey Shore. However, three examples of how my perception of pop culture has changed can be shown in the genre, the characterization, and the value of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. My expectations have changed from pop culture being tv shows and movies to books. Another change is from childish celebrity personalities to complex characters in Jonathan Strange. Finally, the most important change is the ability to obtain value other than mindless entertainment in Jersey Shore to having the option of analysing many different groups in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. My views of pop culture have changed after taking Engl 1102 this semester.

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