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Feast of ExcessA Cultural History of the New Sensibility$
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George Cotkin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190218478

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190218478.001.0001

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The New Sensibility

The New Sensibility

(p.1) Introduction The New Sensibility
Feast of Excess

George Cotkin

Oxford University Press

This chapter explains how the New Sensibility, first widely noted in the mid-1960s, had its origins in the early 1950s. It argues that the New Sensibility allows us to understand the period from 1952 to 1974, and up to the present, as a coherent cultural moment—predicated on excess, on going too far in the name of artistic and personal liberation. Excess (whether toward minimalism or maximalism) became the cultural style. That style, in turn, was focused on particular concerns: madness, experiment, violence, performance, confession, sexual freedom, blurring of lines between high and low culture and between actors and audience. The chapter discusses the vast range of cultural works that fit within this concept, as well as looking at the New Sensibility in relation to modernism and postmodernism.

Keywords:   New Sensibility, 1950s, 1960s, modernism, postmodernism

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