Consuming Traditions: Modernity, Modernism, and the by Elizabeth Outka

By Elizabeth Outka

In an remarkable phenomenon that swept throughout Britain on the flip of the 19th century, writers, advertisers, and designers started to create and promote photos of an genuine cultural realm mockingly thought of outdoor undefined. Such photos have been situated in nostalgic photos of an idyllic, pre-industrial previous, in supposedly unique items no longer derived from prior traditions, and within the excellent of a purified aesthetic that will be separated from the mass industry. featuring a full of life, special research of what she phrases the ''commodified authentic,'' Elizabeth Outka explores this important yet neglected improvement within the historical past of modernity with a piercing examine patron tradition and the promoting of authenticity in past due 19th- and early twentieth-century Britain. The publication brings jointly quite a lot of cultural assets, from the version cities of Bournville, Port solar, and Letchworth; to the structure of Edwin Lutyens and Selfridges division shop; to paintings by means of authors similar to Bernard Shaw, E. M. Forster, Henry James, D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf.

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Part II of the book, “Urban Authenticities,” shifts to somewhat later versions of the commodified authentic that unfolded within the city and that were marked by efforts to manufacture a modern aesthetic refinement. In contrast to a Bournville or a Howards End, which tended to reinforce a hierarchical model of community relations and to emphasize a nostalgic return to an authentic country aesthetic, these urban versions developed a more flexible and more democratic model presented to 20 C O N SUM I N G T R A D I T IO N S a broader market, infusing popular culture with highbrow ideas of noncommercial purity.

7 What none of these books imagined, however, was how commerce and advertising would be harnessed to support, to promote, and to produce a utopian vision. While novelists envisioned utopias, developers of model towns attempted to realize their own version in full working reality. The factory towns of Bournville and Port Sunlight, and the construction of the first Garden City at Letchworth, offered literal examples of the spatial and temporal union that Howard would outline in his “Three Magnets” drawing.

I organize the book spatially because the commodified authentic was a cultural and material stage on which various models of authenticity were constructed and performed. Part I, “Commodified Nostalgia and the Country Aesthetic,” focuses on the marketing of the countryside, examining both literal and literary efforts to create model communities and individual domestic homes that suggested a nostalgic return to a preindustrial age—but a return that explicitly relied on commercial production. What emerged were new ways to imagine a mix between the country and the city, and new ways to bring the past—modernized—into the present.

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