Death of the middlebrow

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Yet there was a time, not so long ago, when such reading lists were not only not "questionable," they were fundamental; indeed, they were inescapable elements of middlebrow culture. Middlebrowism, which dominated mid-century culture in the Anglo-American world, can be a complex subject beset by issues of status and social power, but at its heart lay the duty of all educated persons to become "well-rounded" citizens, especially by exposing themselves to great ideas, great art, and great literature. Who decided what was sufficiently "great" to spend time on? That's what cultural gatekeepers were for.

Charles Paul Freund, Reason: Pleasure and power in the wake of the middlebrows

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