Access options available:. Narrative My argument was rather that there had been, since the mid-nineteenth century in Europe, a powerful imaginary insisting on the divide while time and again violating that categorical separation in practice. After all, the insight that all cultural products are subject to the market was already advanced by Theodor Adorno, key theorist of the divide, in the late s" Huyssen goes on to say that he was mainly interested in how the divide played out in the context of postmodernist attempts to break down the wall between high and low, and that he now wishes to reconfigure or reconsider the divide in terms of a global approach to comparative literary studies. In attempting this reexamination, I will no doubt oversimplify some of the positions I discuss and, in some cases, challenge received opinion about these texts.

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Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Aug 13, Bertrand rated it liked it Shelves: aesthetics , art-history , art-theory , avant-garde , cultural-history , essay , litterary-theory , left , marxism , modernism. That's probably the sign of a strong authorial voice with contemporary relevance, but that is also, for the amateur that I am, often a little disappointing.

I feel ashamed to admit it, but it seems my interest in modernism is inversely proportional to its relevance to contemporary culture. This is an interesting position, and one certainly congruent with the "Burger" theory of the avantgarde, which postulate its project as the "sublation of art into life", although the in Burger the subtext seems to present this sublation in terms of performance, whereas adding the mediation of mass-culture as an 'in-between' of art and life dependant on technology opens up a more collective and political dimension.

Unfortunately none of this is really tackled by Huyssen except for the role of technology , who does a great job of defining the avantgarde in his first essay 'The Hidden Dialectic' but does not, I found, take enough time to define mass culture I would add he also wait until his final essay to offer a conclusive definition of modernism, which -as with most theoricians- is either presented as including avantgarde or as opposed to it, sometimes assimilated to modernity and sometimes seen as its 'adversarial culture', etc.

One of the quandaries of writing about modernism in the age of post-modernism and one that Huyssen comes close to identifying is that the canon of authors, the available and acknowledged material that need be the source material of any interpretation of the concept, is provided by those "high modernist" critics Adorno, Greenberg, etc.

I have always thought that the modernist -even high modernist- aspirations to artistic autonomy were overstated in the classical accounts: the encyclopedic spectrum of the Pound's cantos seems a good example. For Huyssen Adorno unlike Benjamin opposes the avantgarde project of sublating art into life because he finds its fulfilment in totalitarianism.

Autonomy is the condition for art's critical potential. The third essay 'Mass Culture as Woman: Modernism's Other' tackles maybe inaugurate a subject that has since become hugely popular, the gendered quality of avantgarde and modernism. Huyssen set out to show the symbolic linkage of women and mass-culture in the modernist imaginary: the subject was already well documented by that time, and has received extensive treatment since under the auspices of the subsequent many readings of modernism, which have emphasised both the multiple paths taken by women to settle the artistic and literary sphere, and the porousness of the avantgarde and modernist categories.

Huyssen's argument contend that modernism, with its emphasis on the artwork's autonomy, rejected the influence of mass-culture as feminine, in favour of a glorification of the absolute, ex-nihilo creation of heroic masculinity. This is problematic insofar as those charges are made against modernism in the largest sense, that is, artistic creation between Baudelaire and Minimalism, while drawing most of its examples from the "critical high-modernism" of Greenberg and Adorno: Huyssen's laudable project, as outlined in his introduction, is to show the complex intertwinement of mass-culture and modernism, but in this particular context he fails to expand his revision to the modernist take on feminity.

On the basis of high-modernism's rejection of mass-culture, he generalises on modernism's -in general- rejection of feminity. Indeed literature and the arts, as their foundational authority was progressively rescinded while the bourgeois order solidified, took an increasingly oppositional stance: fiction -and the novel- was or became associated with feminity, but the avantgarde and late-romantic impulses was to turn those accusations on their head, by granting the author of fiction the dignity of divine, ex-nihilo creator, the father, as it were, of all masculinity: Thus Flaubert might well have written that "Madame Bovary, c'est moi" quoted p.

Hence the ambivalent gendering of the writer, living and acting within a reality increasingly perceived as formless and female, while practising the virile art of sub creation. We might add that outside the particular confines of the avantgarde and its immediate precursor, varied conceptions of the creative process also complicate the gendering of authorship: the persistent notion of afflatus, and the concomitant notion of the poet as prophet, and later as interpreter, and the role given to the unconscious all hint at the artist as vessel, is hardly a masculine archetype.

In this model, the artist is masculine inasmuch as he has authority onto human society, but remain feminine insofar as he is "enthused", as he receives inspiration within himself. If we consider the eroding of the frontier between poetry and the novel in the early XXth century, we might see that soon the divide might be traced more along the lines of art as interpretation feminine vs art as construction masculine , a distinction which solidifies with the inter-war return to order.

Follow an essay on Fritz Lang's Metropolis, a couple of essays on post-war German drama, and a reading of Peter Weiss' Aesthetics of Resistance — none of them particularly convincing, and at any rate somewhat out of sync from the general thrust of the book. The third section starts with the other highlight of the book, Huyssen's examination of pop art and its ambivalent role in defusing the high-modernist rejection of mass culture.

Ultimately he seems finds pop art to be complicit with rampant and totalising capitalism, because he takes at face-value some of Warhol's declarations; I think that pop art participate of what Zizek called "over-identification" in relation to the NSK, and would be better understood in the context of Mathew W.

Smith's 'total performance of the self' : by "baring the devices" of commodity culture, it turns the spectacle against itself. The last two essays are also quite valuable: 'The search for Tradition' theorises the relationship between post-modernism and the avantgarde, while the large, final 'mapping the postmodern' takes up the daunting task one that has since often been taken of clarifying the relationship of "the postmodern" with a variety of subjects, from avantgarde and modernism to poststructuralism, neoconservatism or mass culture.

This is all very well written and intelligently thought out. On the whole this did not turn out to be the life-changing experience I expected, and although I can see why it is so often quoted, I can also see that it is a bit dated. If one day I give post-modernism its due attention I will certainly return to the book, but as far as modernism is concerned, much of what is said here has since been retold, expanded in a format that seems to me clearer, and maybe less partisan.

The first essay itself is well worth reading and I am surprised no one seems to have scanned it yet View 2 comments. A little repetitive, since it's comprised of essays written over the course of about a decade. The final essay is an excellent summation of the different strains of postmodernism from the 60s through the early 80s in both the US and Europe, and also contains a very convincing section arguing that the conflation of post-structuralist theory with postmodernism in the US is fallacious, and that post-structuralism is in fact a theory of modernity.

The essays in Part 1 and Part 3 leading up to the fi A little repetitive, since it's comprised of essays written over the course of about a decade. The essays in Part 1 and Part 3 leading up to the final essay serve as mostly background material and can be safely skipped unless one wants to read more about the historical avant-garde, Pop art, etc. Part 2 consists of only tangentially-related essays about individual art works.

Sep 14, Kent rated it really liked it Shelves: comps. There are a couple historical narratives worth watching in this book. One is the appropriation of surrealism by the Modernist movement. I am very interested in how Huyssen describes this historical moment, where surrealism began in reaction to the distance modernism attempted to create between art and a general public.

And then Modernism's subsequent appropriation of surrealism's artistic impulse. Perhaps this is general art history, but it was my first interaction with it. But what I find even There are a couple historical narratives worth watching in this book. But what I find even more fascinating is that the book is written as a study on Germany's experience of art, and I think Huyssen does an excellent job describing the cultural challenge artists encountered coming to a national understanding post World War II.

It has significantly influenced my thoughts on how art practices relevance in general society. Feb 25, Rob rated it really liked it Shelves: modernism , postmodern , non-fiction , criticism. Rodrigo Ramos rated it liked it Jul 28, Kevin rated it liked it Jan 22, Dave rated it really liked it Apr 19, Ferat rated it really liked it Dec 06, Marc Raymond rated it it was amazing Jun 10, Laura rated it really liked it Oct 10, Rae rated it liked it Nov 12, Suzanne rated it it was amazing Oct 15, Chris Hutchinson rated it really liked it May 04, Nutsjel rated it liked it May 02, Marcie rated it liked it Jul 05, Spock rated it really liked it Jun 03, Alyona Arenberg rated it really liked it Sep 17, Ellen rated it liked it Nov 22, Nic rated it it was amazing Mar 31, Sarah rated it really liked it Dec 13, Mahmuda Rahman rated it really liked it Dec 15, Jen rated it liked it Jan 17, Sheikh Tajamul rated it really liked it May 14, John rated it really liked it Feb 02, Sarah rated it really liked it Oct 30, Domenic rated it liked it Sep 26, Avu Chaturvedi rated it really liked it Aug 06, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

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After the great divide: modernism, mass culture, postmodernism



After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism


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