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Consuming TraditionsModernity, Modernism, and the Commodified Authentic$
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Elizabeth Outka

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195372694

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195372694.001.0001

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Selling Authenticity

(p.3) 1. Introduction
Consuming Traditions

Elizabeth Outka (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter introduces the concept of the “commodified authentic” and the nostalgic, originary, and aesthetic forms of such marketing, examining the explosive growth of efforts to sell these various forms in Britain at the end of the nineteenth century. The chapter traces the interdisciplinary expressions of the commodified authentic and explores how such a strategy eased for consumers the abrupt transition from the Victorian age to the modern era. The chapter further analyzes the importance of the commodified authentic in the history of modernity and for the development of literary modernism. Tracing some of the central debates in modernist criticism—such Huyssen’s concept of “the great divide,” and the relations between modernism and material culture—the chapter argues that the commodified authentic offers a new way to explore two critical but missing parts of the equation: how commercial ventures in fact deployed and dismantled the vexed relationship between high and low culture, and how literary modernism developed not through a reliance on the great divide or its dismantling but on the uneasy movement between the two impulses, a movement intimately connected to the paradoxical impulse to construct authenticity. The chapter concludes with a detailed summary of the chapters that follow.

Keywords:   commodified authentic, nostalgia, nostalgic authenticity, originary authenticity, aesthetic authenticity, modernism, modernity, Huyssen, the great divide, high and low culture

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