Patterns for America: Modernism and the Concept of Culture by Susan Hegeman

By Susan Hegeman

"Well written, unique in notion, insightful in its interpretations, and far-reaching in its readings and conclusions. Hegeman's awareness to advanced transitions in the historical past of principles and their disciplines makes this an exemplary contribution to highbrow and social history."--Marc Manganaro, Rutgers collage "Extremely attention-grabbing . . . Hegeman's exams of particular texts, examine and publishing ventures, and important agendas of decide on students and intellectuals are extraordinary and healthily eccentric."--James A. Boon, Princeton college In contemporary a long time, historians and social theorists have given a lot concept to the idea that of "culture," its origins in Western suggestion, and its usefulness for social research. during this publication, Susan Hegeman makes a speciality of the term's heritage within the usa within the first half the 20th century. She indicates how, in this interval, the time period "culture" replaced from being a technical time period linked basically with anthropology right into a time period of well known utilization. She indicates the connections among this circulate of "culture" into the mainstream and the emergence of a particular "American culture," with its personal styles, values, and ideology. Hegeman issues to the numerous similarities among the conceptions of tradition produced through anthropologists Franz Boas, Edward Sapir, Ruth Benedict, and Margaret Mead, and a variety of alternative intellectuals, together with Randolph Bourne, Van Wyck Brooks, Waldo Frank, and Dwight Macdonald. Hegeman finds how relativist anthropological principles of human culture--which under pressure the gap among sleek facilities and "primitive" peripheries--came into alliance with the comparing judgments of artists and critics. This anthropological belief supplied a spatial knowledge that helped enhance the proposal of a in particular American "culture." She additionally indicates the connections among this new view of "culture" and the inventive paintings of the interval by means of, between others, Sherwood Anderson, Jean Toomer, Thomas Hart Benton, Nathanael West, and James Agee and depicts in a brand new means the richness and complexity of the modernist milieu within the usa.

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S. Eliot—themselves created, in their use of such works as Sir J. G. Frazer’s The Golden Bough and Jessie Weston’s From Ritual to Romance, as both models and sources for their own literary works. From there, one might turn to the academic literary criticism of the midcentury (itself a complexly modernist institution) to address the influence of myth critics including Richard Chase, Leslie Fiedler, and Northrop Frye, who, interestingly, also found theoretical inspiration in evolutionary comparativists such as Frazer and Weston.

As with Eliot, this antiteleological project was part of a larger re-articulation of historical time. In challenging the prevalent racist and evolutionist thinking of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Boas and many of his students would instead address differences in human populations by invoking the fundamentally historical processes of contact, exchange, adaptation, and migration. 11 But even more broadly speaking, these anthropologists were also centrally involved in connecting their present to the ever less remote “primitive” past, and thus in the project of recording the contradictions and unevennesses in modernity itself.

Salvage” had become less a matter of collecting war trophies to take back to Washington than a nostalgic operation, recording ways of life that were seen to be dying out in the face of encroaching assimilation and modernization. 6 Though Eliot’s own relationship to anthropology was complexly anachronistic, we can nevertheless see some ways in which his “salvages” overlap with the ones that concerned anthropologists. ” Also, like the anthropologists of his day, Eliot is explicit in this poem in his rejection of a progressive direction to human history.

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