The Shock Of The Real

Overview

Already in the century before photography's emergence as a mass medium, a diverse popular visual culture had risen to challenge the British literary establishment. The bourgeois fashion for new visual media — from prints and illustrated books to theatrical spectacles and panoramas — rejected high Romantic concepts of original genius and the sublime in favor of mass-produced images and the thrill of realistic effects. In response, the literary elite declared the new visual media an offense to Romantic idealism. ...

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Overview

Already in the century before photography's emergence as a mass medium, a diverse popular visual culture had risen to challenge the British literary establishment. The bourgeois fashion for new visual media — from prints and illustrated books to theatrical spectacles and panoramas — rejected high Romantic concepts of original genius and the sublime in favor of mass-produced images and the thrill of realistic effects. In response, the literary elite declared the new visual media an offense to Romantic idealism. "Simulations of nature," Coleridge declared, are "loathsome" and "disgusting." The Shock of the Real offers a tour of Romantic visual culture, from the West End stage to the tourist-filled Scottish Highlands, from the panoramas of Leicester Square to the photography studios of Second Empire Paris. But in presenting the relation between word and image in the late Georgian age as a form of culture war, the author also proposes an alternative account of Romantic aesthetic ideology — as a reaction not against the rationalism of the Enlightenment but against the visual media age being born.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"As well-written and thoughtful as it is broad in scope, the book should be required reading..."—Bradford Mudge, The Wordsworth Circle

"Wood...is that rare scholar equally at home with art historical and literary artifacts: he provides informed and sophisticated examinations of the encounters between the 'high-canonical' Romantics writers and the 'low-canonical' forms of visual entertainment that surrounded them....Wood's argument that anxiety about visual realism predated the invention of photography is well documented and convincing. His imaginative reconstruction of the popular, visual context for literary Romanticism is sure to be valuable to scholars in many fields." —Victorians Institute Jourbanal

Booknews
In the century before photography emerged as a mass medium, says Wood (English, U. of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign), the bourgeois fashion for new visual media such as prints, illustrated books, theatrical spectacles, and panoramas rejected high Romantic concepts of original genius and the sublime in favor of mass- produce images and the thrill of realistic effects. Romantic writers counterattacked by declaring the new visual media an offense to Romantic idealism. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312226541
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 1/1/2001
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Gillen D'Arcy Wood is Assistant Professor of English Literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Table of Contents

Theater and Painting
• The Legible Face: Romantic Anti-Theatricality and the Cult of Garrick
• Performing the Real: Reynolds, Mrs. Abington, and the Birth of Celebrity Culture
• Prints and Exhibitions
• Reynolds between the Royal Academy and the Print Trade
• Contracted Optics: Haydon and the Cult of Immensity
• Panoramas
• The Anti-Sublime: Wordsworth and the Virtual Landscapes of Leicester Square
• Ruins and Museums
• Sentimental Distances in Schiller, Winckelmann and Diderot
• Keats and the Ruins of Imperialism
• Byron's Curse, or The Strange Case of Lord Elgin's Nose
• Illustration, Tourism, Photography

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