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TitleConsuming traditions : modernity, modernism, and the commodified authentic
Author Elizabeth Outka
Imprint New York : Oxford University Press, 2012
Descript xviii, 214 p. : ill. ; 24 cm


This book investigates a critically important development in the history of modernity: the unprecedented marketing of various forms of authenticity in late 19th and early 20th-century Britain. The selling of objects and places allegedly free of commercial taint—what the book terms the “commodified authentic”—marks a crucial but overlooked turn in modern culture and offers a new way to understand literary modernism and its complex negotiation of tradition and novelty. Writers, marketers, town planners, and architects simultaneously began to draw on the commodified authentic in creating novels, houses, model communities, and commercial displays. The book examines how, in these disparate works, new objects and places were packaged as mini-representations of theoretically noncommercial values; the book explores nostalgic versions of the commodified authentic (such as evocations of an authentic rural past); originary versions (such as appeals to an original, genuine article); and aesthetic versions (involving images of a purified aesthetic free from any taint of the mass market). The chapters draw on literary, commercial, and architectural examples, considering two significant clusters of activity in differing locations. The first cluster (part I, “Commodified Nostalgia and the Country Aesthetic”) focuses on the country, investigating how both rural villages and houses—well-established repositories of authentic meaning—became new sites for intense commercialization that were explicitly produced through modern industry and factory work. The second cluster (part II, “Urban Authenticities”) shifts the focus to the city, arguing that authenticity-often considered antithetical to the urban setting-was translated into malleable images developed within urban spaces. The simultaneous moves to create “authentic” spaces or objects that were supposedly outside the marketplace and also to embrace commerce as the best way to make such spaces and objects controllable and accessible in fact represented a powerful way to balance the contradictions of modernity, as well as an innovative tool to sustain the paradoxes of literary modernism. -- From publisher's web site


Introduction: selling authenticity -- PART I COMMODIFIED NOSTALGIA AND THE COUNTRY AESTHETIC -- The past is a present country: model towns and commercial Utopias -- Buying time: E. M. forster and the neo-nostalgic home

English literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism Modernism (Literature) -- Great Britain Material culture in literature Nostalgia in literature Authenticity (Philosophy) in literature Consumption (Economics) -- Psychological aspects Commercial products -- Psychological aspects Commerce in literature Marketing -- Great Britain -- History -- 20th century

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