The Sense of Time: Configuring History and Memory in the City
This chapter analyses changing configurations of the past around 1900. It analyses the embeddedness of German bourgeois modernism in mainstream bourgeois culture of the earlier 19th century, notably historicism. As a brainchild of 19th‐century positivism, Rankean academic historicism treated the past as objectively knowable. Historicism in architecture, or Beaux Arts, echoed this epistemological optimism. Modernists, by contrast, focused on subjective memories and narrative modes that replaced chronological classification with long duration. Yet this break was not clear‐cut. A close analysis of paradigmatic buildings and spaces shows how German bourgeois modernists transformed historical precedents into cultural archetypes, which could be experienced rather than just deciphered, and used them to root urban mass society in an organic sense of the past. Yet history was never jettisoned, because it offered a sense of structure and social order, which remained vital to the material assertion of bourgeois hegemony.
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