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Books  >>  Art

G. Wood

The Shock of the Real

G. Wood The Shock Of The Real Romanticism And Visual Culture 1760 1860 2001
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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.

""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 Journal
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