Down to witty gritty

August 30, 2002

Andrew Mueller says that Culture in Australia (Books, THES , August 23) lacks wit, style and is a missed opportunity for the inquisitive essayist.

Quite so. The book, which I co-edited, is a collection of analyses of the circumstances affecting the production, circulation and reception of culture in Australia. The book emerged from a workshop funded by a social science research programme, and was written for researchers, teachers and students.

Hardly surprising that it is a bit short on journalistic bon mots , the witty perceptions of the aesthetically trained cultural critic or political polemic against the Howard government's xenophobia.

What there is instead is information and analysis by Australia's leading cultural theorists and scholars, whose work merited an assessment more appropriate to its purpose. To review a book that is clearly an apple and castigate it for not being a pear is unfair.

Tony Bennett
Faculty of social sciences, OU

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