Spectacular Realities: Early Mass Culture in Fin-de-Siècle Paris


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Jami rated it really liked it Nov 19, Schwartz examines the explosive popularity of such phenomena as the boulevards, the mass press, public displays of corpses at the morgue, wax museums, panoramas, and early film. To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above. No trivia or quizzes yet. This book was well written and fairly easy to read. However Schwartz herself points out that Hollywood, the extreme end of this logic, creates reality for export, to be enjoyed by people in completely disparate communities all over the world, with no recourse for checking reality against the real. Schwartz acknowledges that the discussion could go farther in evaluating how effective this supposed democratization actually was, focusing less, I assume, on the people who built these spectacles and more on lower-class viewership of which her book contains virtually no documentation.

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Spectacular Realities Early Mass Culture in Fin-de-Siècle Paris. The sparkling redesigned city fostered a culture of energetic crowd-pleasing and multi-sensory amusements that would apprehend and represent real life as spectacle. Vanessa R. Schwartz examines the explosive. The sparkling redesigned city fostered a culture of energetic crowd-pleasing and multi-sensory amusements that would apprehend and represent real life as spectacle. Vanessa R. Schwartz examines the explosive popularity of such phenomena as the boulevards, the mass press, public.

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Spectacular Realities by Vanessa R. Schwartz - Paperback - University of California Press

Return to Book Page. Preview — Spectacular Realities by Vanessa R. During the second half of the nineteenth century, Paris emerged as the entertainment capital of the world. The sparkling redesigned city fostered a culture of energetic crowd-pleasing and multi-sensory amusements that would apprehend and represent real life as spectacle.

Schwartz examines the explosive popularity of such phenomena as the boulevards, the mass pres During the second half of the nineteenth century, Paris emerged as the entertainment capital of the world. Schwartz examines the explosive popularity of such phenomena as the boulevards, the mass press, public displays of corpses at the morgue, wax museums, panoramas, and early film.

Drawing on a wide range of written and visual materials, including private and business archives, and working at the intersections of art history, literature, and cinema studies, Schwartz argues that "spectacular realities" are part of the foundation of modern mass society. She refutes the notion that modern life produced an unending parade of distractions leading to alienation, and instead suggests that crowds gathered not as dislocated spectators but as members of a new kind of crowd, one united in pleasure rather than protest.

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May 14, Emily B rated it really liked it Recommends it for: This is the best book on 19th century Paris morgues and wax museums that you probably will ever read. Nov 03, Joy rated it really liked it Shelves: More than this, these presentations of the real were meant for mass consumption, and focused largely on current events. These depictions, however, were inherently ephemeral, needing to be replaced by the next interesting thing, be that a new depiction of a sensational murder in the wax museum, or the latest political gossip in the press.

Each new situation depicted and sold, created a basis for common Parisian identity, but the pace and turnover of the markets pandered perfectly to capitalist logic. Though Schwartz wants to argue that collective participation in these cultures involves the spectator, thereby empowering him or her, they only control insofar as they purchase the limited options presented to them. And as the depictions of the real become more complete and seductive, the capitalist has more and more control over just what we think of as reality.

However Schwartz herself points out that Hollywood, the extreme end of this logic, creates reality for export, to be enjoyed by people in completely disparate communities all over the world, with no recourse for checking reality against the real. Apr 28, Allison rated it it was amazing Shelves: Schwartz, an assistant Professor of history at American University, conceived of this work as her dissertation for the history department at Berkeley.

Spectacular Realities: Early Mass Culture in Fin-de-Siècle Paris

It has been revised and expanded into this current volume. The book itself is organized into five chapters and includes a lengthy introduction and conclusion. Each chapter builds on the previous as the author constructs her argument to explain the formation of a new mass culture transcending class and gender in fin de siecle Paris.

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She asserts that this new crowd was undergoing a cultural revolution unified by the act of consumerism rather than by acts of violence and political uprising which some argue has defined "The Crowd" in revolutionary Paris.