Consuming Traditions: Modernity, Modernism, and the Commodified Authentic

Overview

"Examples of faux authenticity abound in today's marketplace. Trading on the commercial appeal of the ersatz real, however, is far from a twenty-first century invention. As Consuming Traditions investigates, the allure of commodified nostalgia and the selling of the "genuine" article emerged as powerful forces in early twentieth-century Britain." Elizabeth Outka redefines the debates surrounding literary modernism and the market as she explores the marketing of authenticity, a crucial but overlooked development in the history of modernity. With ...
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Overview

"Examples of faux authenticity abound in today's marketplace. Trading on the commercial appeal of the ersatz real, however, is far from a twenty-first century invention. As Consuming Traditions investigates, the allure of commodified nostalgia and the selling of the "genuine" article emerged as powerful forces in early twentieth-century Britain." Elizabeth Outka redefines the debates surrounding literary modernism and the market as she explores the marketing of authenticity, a crucial but overlooked development in the history of modernity. With an interdisciplinary approach that probes novels, plays, advertisements, and architecture, Consuming Traditions presents a convincing case for how the "commodified authentic" - the selling of objects and places allegedly free of commercial taint - marks a critical turn in modern culture and offers a new way to understand literary modernism and its complex negotiation of tradition and novelty. Drawing on cultural studies, theories of consumerism, and works by Shaw, Forster, Woolf, Joyce, and others, Outka examines how literature both enacted and critiqued the larger revolution in material culture.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Guilty pleasures become serious virtues in Outka's transformative account of 'commodified authenticity,' that prodigy by which modernist culture gave us such things as gorgeous fakeries, original copies, and mass-produced purity. Modern art, modern commerce: in this brilliant book, the two reveal all their most delicious collaborations and all the mass benefits of mass culture. Consuming Traditions brings us the best of both worlds. It is the best kind of book-one that wholly rethinks early twentieth-century culture and discovers much new to love about it."-Jesse Matz, Kenyon College

"Outka has unearthed treasures in numerous archives, from town planning and architecture to department stores and periodicals. As she shows in fresh readings of Shaw, Wells, James, Forster, Lawrence, Joyce, and Woolf, high modernism itself thrived on the contradiction that mass-produced authenticity (like heritage today) was its stock in trade."-Alison Booth, University of Virginia

"A bold, consequential rereading. Against familiar accounts of modernism's relations with consumer culture, Outka argues for the productive investment of key culture-makers in the ongoing contradictions underpinning commodity logic. Not only are her readings of such figures as James, Forster, Lawrence, and Woolf revelatory; they make such keywords as 'authenticity' and 'tradition' available for new and richer engagement." -Sara Blair, University of Michigan

"Consuming Traditions makes a crucial contribution to modernist scholarship...other scholars will surely build on the ground she has ingeniously broken. I expect the phrase "commodified authentic" to enter, very quickly, the regular vocabulary of modernist studies." —Modernism/Modernity

"Invigorating and important." —Clio

"Consuming Traditions covers an impressive amount of ground...This book is worth reading for anyone interested in Woolf or in British modern literature more generally—as well as for those interested in the history of consumer culture." —Woolf Studies Annual

"Consuming Traditions shows us that cultural studies still has much to offer scholars of modernist literature." —Modern Fiction Studies

"Outka concludes that now, more than ever, we need to acknowledge the danger, but also the potential, of the commodified authentic. To engage with it critically, in the kind of work Outka has undertaken in Consuming Traditions, is to open up possibilities for freedom and creativity." —Virginia Woolf Miscellany

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199921843
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 7/16/2012
  • Series: Modernist Literature and Culture Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 234
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Outka is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Richmond. She has published essays on modernism and British culture in Modernism/modernity, NOVEL and other publications.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Selling Authenticity 3

Pt. I Commodified Nostalgia and the Country Aesthetic

2 The Past Is a Present Country: Model Towns and Commercial Utopias 25

3 Buying Time: E. M. Forster and the Neo-nostalgic Home 68

Pt. II Urban Authenticities

4 The Vanishing Act of Commercialism: Selfridges, Modernity, and the Purified Marketplace 99

5 "Lustrous behind Glass":Woolf, Window Shopping, and Authentic Display 128

6 Conclusion: Modernist Excursions 155

Notes 175

Selected Bibliography 199

Index 209

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