By Anabel Pasarow
“What I understand by manners, then, is a culture’s hum and buzz of implication. It is that part of a culture which is made up of half-uttered or unuttered or unutterable expressions of value. They are hinted at by small actions, sometimes by the arts of dress or decoration, sometimes by tone, gesture, emphasis or rhythm, sometimes by the words that are used with a special frequency or a special meaning. They are the things that for good or bad draw the people of a culture together and that separate them from the people of another culture. It is the part of a culture which is not art, nor religion, nor morals, not politics, and yet it relates to all these highly formulated departments of culture. It is modified by them; it modifies them; it is generated by them; it generates them,” said Lionel Trilling, in his address to the Conference on the Heritage of the English-speaking Peoples and Their Responsibilities on September 27, 1947 at Kenyon College.
The following year literary critic William Van O’Connor touched on Trilling’s speech in his essay “Mannequin Mythology: The Fashion Journals.”