Adventures in Realism / Edition 1

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Adventures in Realism offers an accessible introduction to realism as it has evolved since the 19th century. Though focused on literature and literary theory, the significance of technology and the visual arts is also addressed.

  • Comprises 16 newly-commissioned essays written by a distinguished group of contributors, including Slavoj Zizek and Frederic Jameson
  • Provides the historical, cultural, intellectual, and literary contexts necessary to understand developments in realism
  • Addresses the artistic mediums and technologies such as painting and film that have helped shape the way we perceive reality
  • Explores literary and pictorial sub-genres, such as naturalism and socialist realism
  • Includes a brief bibliography and suggestions for further reading at the end of each section
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Adventures in Realism is an exciting and necessary book. Itcollects together a stunning array of essays that, bothindividually and as a whole, show why we need to consider thenature and importance of realism. The volume encourages us to thinkthrough the concept both in relation to its mid-nineteenth centuryorigins, and today’s philosophical discussions; to see itboth as manifested in specific literary or artistic forms and as amore abstract way of figuring our place within the material world.Matthew Beaumont should be congratulated in placing hiscontributors into such effective dialogue with one another: indoing so, he has returned realism to the center of historical,aesthetic, and political debate."
Kate Flint, Rutgers University

"Every new generation of critics and scholars must come to termsin its own ways with the paradoxes of realism. Realism is a periodstyle, but at the same time it is a perennial motive in literature,art, film, and other media. Realism purports to represent things asthey are, or were, but at the same time it is a constitutive set ofconventions that tells people in a given time and place what is tobe taken as real. This distinguished collection of essaysbrilliantly articulates these paradoxes for our own time."
J.Hillis Miller, University of California at Irvine

"What a wonderfully wide and deep and pushing inspection ofrealisms (and irrealisms) in history, in theory, in practice.Here’s realism, then and now, cannily philosophized,politicized, feminized, psychologized. Here are so many ofrealism’s practitioners, its aesthetic friends and enemies,the missionaries and also the scoffers, being heard and watched asthey engage with their chosen media – novels, plays,paintings, photographs, films, buildings. It is, I think, asserious, engaging, educating a look at the large realist project ascould well be assembled."
Valentine Cunningham, Corpus Christi College, Oxford

“Beaumont's introduction, 'Reclaiming Realism,' pinpointsthe purpose of this collection. Realism fell victim to postmoderndiscourse; Beaumont and his fellow contributors wish to restoreit.”

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Matthew Beaumont is Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature in the Department of English at University College, London. He is the author of Utopia Ltd.: Ideologies of Social Dreaming in England 1870-1900 (2005), and has edited Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward for Oxford World’s Classics.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations.

Notes on Contributors.

Foreword by Rachel Bowlby (University College London).


Introduction: Reclaiming Realism: Matthew Beaumont (UniversityCollege London).

1. Literary Realism Reconsidered: “The world in its lengthand breadth”: George Levine (Rutgers University).

2. Realist Synthesis in the Nineteenth Century Novel:“That unity which lies in the selection of our keenestconsciousness”: Simon Dentith (University ofGloucestershire).

3. Space, Mobility, and the Novel: “The spirit of place isa great reality”: Josephine McDonagh (Oxford University).

4. Naturalism: “Dirt and horror pure and simple”:Sally Ledger (Birkbeck College, University of.


5. Realism before and after Photography: “The fantasticalform of a relation among things”: Nancy Armstrong (BrownUniversity).

6. The Realist Aesthetic in Painting: “Serious andcommitted, ironic and brutal, sincere and full of poetry”:Andrew Hemingway (University College London).

7. Interrupted Dialogues of Realism and Modernism: “Thefact of new forms of life, already born and active”: EstherLeslie (Birkbeck College, University of London).

8. Socialist Realism: “To depict reality in itsrevolutionary development”: Brandon Taylor (University ofSouthampton).

9. Realism, Modernism, and Photography: “At last, at lastthe mask has been torn away’”: John Roberts (Universityof Wolverhampton).

10. Cinematic Realism: “A recreation of the world in itsown image”: Laura Marcus (University of Sussex).

11. The Current of Critical Irrealism: “A moonlitenchanted night”: Michael Löwy (National Center forScientific Research, Paris and École des Hautes Études enSciences Sociales, Paris).

12. Psychoanalysis and the Lacanian Real: “Strange shapesof the unwarped primal world”: Slavoj Žižek(University of Ljubljana and Birkbeck College, University ofLondon).

13. Feminist Theory and the Return of the Real: “What wereally want most out of realism …”: Helen Small(Pembroke College, Oxford).

14. Realism and Anti-Realism in Contemporary Philosophy:“What’s truth got to do with it?”: ChristopherNorris (Cardiff University).

15. A Note on Literary Realism in Conclusion: Fredric Jameson(Duke University).


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