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Walter Benjamin's entry in Richard Kostelanetz's A Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes refers to high modernism, what then is low modernism? According to Richard Kostelanetz, "low modernism" is conventional mass-merchandized culture.
Art Deco was modernism turned into fashion.
Black & White & Noir (2002) - Paula Rabinowitz
In search of "low modernism."
Black & White & Noir (2002) - Paula Rabinowitz [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Black & White & Noir explores America's pulp modernism through penetrating readings of the noir sensibility lurking in an eclectic array of media: Office of War Information photography, women's experimental films, and African-American novels, among others. It traces the dark edges of cultural detritus blowing across the postwar landscape, finding in pulp a political theory that helps explain America's fascination with lurid spectacles of crime.
We are accustomed to thinking of noir as a film form popularized in movies like The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, and, more recently, Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. But it is also, Paula Rabinowitz argues, an avenue of social and political expression. This book offers an unparalleled historical and theoretical overview of the noir shadows cast when the media's glare is focused on the unseen and the unseemly in our culture. Through far-ranging discussions of the Starr Report, movies such as Double Indemnity and The Big Heat, and figures as various as Barbara Stanwyck, Kenneth Fearing, and Richard Wright, Rabinowitz finds in film noir the representation of modern America's attempt to submerge and mask its violent history of racial and class anatagonisms. Black & White & Noir also explores the theory and practice of stilettos, the ways in which girls in the 1950s viewed film noir as a secret language about their mothers' pasts, the extraordinary tone-setting photographs of Esther Bubley, and the smutty aspect of social workers' case studies, among other unexpected twists and provocative turns. --from the publisher
See also: low modernism - film noir - film theory - pulp - American cinema
Challenging Modernity: Dada Between Modern and Postmodern (1999) - Mark A. Pegrum
In search of "low modernism."
Challenging Modernity: Dada Between Modern and Postmodern (1999) - Mark A. Pegrum [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
As Jameson points out, modernism - and in particular what has traditionally been termed 'high modernism' - is born at around the same time as 'a recognizably mass culture'.
The avant-gardes [...] play a curious medial role [between high culture and mass culture] and have continued to be referred to by some critics until quite recently as 'low modernism' in opposition to the 'high modernism' of, say, an Eliot or a Valéry.
See also: low modernism - dada - modernism - postmodernism
Modernism and the Culture of Market Society (2004) - John Xiros Cooper
In search of Terry Eagleton and John Carey
Modernism and the Culture of Market Society (2004) - John Xiros Cooper Christopher L. Pines [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]Leftist or liberal scholars, like John R. Harrison, Terry Eagleton, and John Carey, have [...] analyzed modernist elitism in terms of class prejudice, as one more essentially bourgeois routine for putting distance between a threatened middle class and the Sweeney-ish proletarian masses. --page 3 via http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521834864&ss=exc [Jun 2006]
Many critics argue that the modernist avant-garde were always in opposition to the commercial values of market driven society. For John Xiros Cooper, the avant-garde bears a more complex relation to capitalist culture than previously acknowledged. He argues that in their personal relationships, gender roles and sexual contacts, the Modernist avant-garde epitomised the impact of capitalism on everyday life. Cooper shows how the new social, cultural, and economic practices aimed to defend cultural values in a commercial age, but, in this task, modernism became the subject of a profound historical irony. Its own characterising techniques, styles, and experiments, deployed to resist the new nihilism of the capitalist market, eventually became the preferred cultural style of the very market culture which the first Modernists opposed. In this broad ranging study John Xiros Cooper explores this provocative theme across a wide range of Modernist authors, including Joyce, Eliot, Stein and Barnes.
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See also: commodity - commercial - modernism - low modernism - capitalism
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