Document Type



Bachelor of Arts in English


Margaret Case, Ph.D.


Is it possible to be both a work of mass culture and still meet the standards of quality set in place by elite cultural theorists such as Matthew Arnold and F. R. Leavis? Using Jodi Picoult’s novel Plain Truth (1999) as a case study, this paper will examine the recent push in higher education to study popular culture. It will address the fear that popular culture studies leads to "leveling" or watering down the quality of higher education. I will analyze both the novel and the Lifetime Television adaptation of this story to illustrate the potential value of mass culture while also making distinctions based on aesthetic quality. This analysis is based on cultural theorists ranging from Matthew Arnold to Michael Schudson in order to explode the cultural dichotomy between high and low culture.