By Professor Phillip Barrish
Concentrating on key works of late-nineteenth and early- twentieth-century American literary realism, Phillip Barrish lines the emergence of recent methods of gaining highbrow prestige—that is, new methods of gaining a point of cultural attractiveness. via prolonged readings of works via Henry James, William Dean Howells, Abraham Cahan, and Edith Wharton, Barrish emphasizes the variations among realist modes of cultural authority and people linked to the increase of the social sciences.
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Additional info for American Literary Realism, Critical Theory, and Intellectual Prestige, 1880-1995
Later, March spends an afternoon wandering the streets not because he is drawn toward observing the “war” between the strikers and management but because he “interested himself in the apparent indifference of the mighty city” (p. ). 59 March’s having cultivated his attention to the frustrating negativities that American society presents comes in handy during small moments of implicit cultural competition such as, for example, when he and Isabel have to travel with the friendly but self-important Mr.
At the book’s end, when Tom and Penelope move for a few years to Mexico, where they will work to open Latin American markets for the large US paint corporation of which Tom has become an executive, Nanny says she hopes that when Penelope “comes back she will have the charm of not olives, perhaps, but of tortillas, whatever they are: something strange and foreign” (p. ). Nanny’s desire to exoticize Penelope’s flavor serves here as the opposite of an aesthetically disciplined gesture in its unashamed ignorance (“tortillas, whatever they are”) as well as in its almost boastful lack of interest in separating different aesthetic qualities and effects from each other.
They leave Boston for Latin America, where their task will be to “push” US paint products. In the late nineteenth century, such “pushing” of new markets often involved the threat or use of US military force, especially in the Southern hemisphere, but it also integrally involved an engagement with diverse tastes and modes of consumption. 34 “ ’ ” The rest of this chapter will briefly consider how the category of “realist taste” modulates in novels that Howells wrote in the years following The Rise of Silas Lapham, in the late s and in the s.
American Literary Realism, Critical Theory, and Intellectual Prestige, 1880-1995 by Professor Phillip Barrish