Professor of Popular Culture
Central Saint Martins
University of the Arts London
London, 5 October 2016, 5:30 pm
Admission free; please register for this event on our Eventbrite page here.
London WC1H 0AB
Roger Sabin, Professor of Popular Culture at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, will give a lecture on the way in which the new medium of comics was perceived by critics in the late 19th century, focusing on the UK (at the time the world-leading producer). The late Victorian period saw an increasingly intense discussion about ‘culture’ – what it was, and where it was heading – spurred by the growth of working class leisure pursuits, and middle class concerns about them.
Mostly this meant fears about negative effects on ‘moral and political’ behaviour, which entailed commentary on comics that involved the kind of language we might associate with backlashes against them in the 20th century (‘a plague’, ‘a fungus’, etc.). But it could also encompass a celebration of comics as the ‘authentic vernacular’ – the beating heart of the country. The paper will survey the boundaries of the debate, and suggest that this was the origin of modern formulations of ‘pop culture’.