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Belated Modernity and Aesthetic Culture

Belated Modernity and Aesthetic Culture: Inventing National Literature

Gregory Jusdanis
Volume: 81
Copyright Date: 1991
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Belated Modernity and Aesthetic Culture
    Book Description:

    Traces literature’s function in the formation of the nation-state through the “belated” emergence of a national aesthetic culture in Greece.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8397-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xviii)

    This is a study of national culture and belated modernization. It traces the emergence of an autonomous cultural identity, a sphere of shared sentiments and experiences, in response to the social, political, and economic transformations taking place in European societies during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. By examining the function of this imaginary realm in the construction of the state, the dominant mode of sociopolitical organization in modernity, it reflects on the factors that made the invention of national culture so inevitable. At its inception national culture is really literary in nature, for literature, in the extended sense of stories...

  5. Chapter 1 Criticism as National Culture
    (pp. 1-12)

    The topic of this book, the relationship between literature and national culture, is frustrated by dominant critical practice that either dismisses nonwestern literatures as parochial or, more important, incorporates them into its cosmopolitan category of the literary. For more than a century critics have worked to show the interdependence of the world’s literatures and have argued that local variations are really part of a celestial unity. They searched for continuities, origins, and grand narratives. But criticism’s celebration of common interest and its projection of a few dominant literatures as universal paradigms have come at the expense of most other traditions...

  6. Chapter 2 From Empire to Nation-State: Greek Expectations
    (pp. 13-48)

    Europeans have long been fascinated by Greece. Around the sixteenth century they began to celebrate Hellas as the mainspring of western civilization. Greece came to be regarded as the birthplace of the West, the source of its cultural institutions. It became a privileged topos in the European imaginary, a shimmering fantasy on the far horizon. But Europe’s geography contained a physical reminder of this Utopia, a rocky peninsula where Greek was still spoken by a population nearly forgotten by Europeans after the Ottoman capture of Constantinople in 1453. In the ideological transformations of European identity and the nationalist struggle for...

  7. Chapter 3 The Making of a Canon: A Literature of Their Own
    (pp. 49-87)

    Modernization entails the formation of a national culture to replace the ethnoreligious identities of the stratified system. In contrast to the absolute laws of the empire and the coercive customs of the church, national culture federates individuals through communal habits, experiences, stories, and, of course, language. Members of the state, linked to one another by this engineered unity, experience their common heritage, humanity, and destiny. The literary canon, as a collection of texts recounting the story of the nation, facilitates the experience of solidarity by allowing people to see themselves as citizens of a unified nation. The canon, however, not...

  8. Chapter 4 The Emergence of Art and the Failures of Modernization
    (pp. 88-121)

    In the previous chapter 1 demonstrated how modernization eventually pushes peripheral cultures into an aesthetics of autonomy. Literature’s original function of introducing Greeks to a catalogue of national virtues became compensatory during the 1930s. The socializing mission of literary culture was aestheticized when the notion of Greekness began to reconcile the ideological antinomies embedded in Greek identity. The imperfect integration of imported institutions, in this case literature, with the infrastructural realities of Greek society meant that these institutions functioned differently from their prototypes in western Europe. In this respect Greek literature is neither an ethnographic aberration nor a European imitation....

  9. Chapter 5 Spaces of a Public Culture
    (pp. 122-160)

    The invention of the nation-state in eighteenth-century Europe coincides with the fabrication of a new type of civil society, a domain of private interests separate from the state, which legitimated the state and was protected by it. In this realm individuals were constituted as citizens of a union whose language and identity distinguished them from members of other states. Their identity was constructed in the social spaces of the bourgeois public sphere: the coffeehouses, salons, art galleries, theaters, concert halls, publishing houses, social clubs, academies, and universities. If national culture was created as a means of contriving a social consensus...

  10. Afterword: The End of the Stories?
    (pp. 161-166)

    One of my aims in this study was to explore the key role played by literature in the construction of cultural identities. Literature was instrumental in the formation of class consciousness in the bourgeois public spheres of Germany, England, and France, as it was also privileged in the nationalist projects of European communities. Literary writing is a force even today in the struggles against colonialism and imperialism in the Middle East, Africa, and South America, as shown by Barbara Harlow inResistance Literature(1987), Through didactic texts it participates in the resistance to foreign domination and the creation of shared...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 167-188)
  12. References
    (pp. 189-204)
  13. Index
    (pp. 205-207)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 208-210)