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Greece and Rome at the Crystal PalaceClassical Sculpture and Modern Britain, 1854-1936$
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Kate Nichols

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199596461

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199596461.001.0001

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A New Audience for Greece and Rome

A New Audience for Greece and Rome

(p.19) 1 A New Audience for Greece and Rome
Greece and Rome at the Crystal Palace

Kate Nichols

Oxford University Press

Chapter 1 asks how ideas about Greek and Roman culture were shaped by the Palace’s new audience, and assesses verbal and visual representations of this new ‘mass’ constituency. Examining the writings of a working-class male autobiographer and a middle-class female diarist, and a range of illustrated press engravings depicting visitors, it uncovers for the first time these new encounters with antiquity at the Palace, highlighting differing ideals of cultural engagement across class and gender. The chapter explores how the Crystal Palace’s unusual combination of leisure and learning might complicate Pierre Bourdieu’s study of cultural preference as a means of achieving social distinction. It draws on theories of audience response developed across the humanities and social sciences, which suggest the importance of response in generating the meaning of a (broadly defined) text. The responses of Palace visitors form a compelling alternative to Tony Bennett’s ‘exhibitionary complex’, which has dominated museum studies.

Keywords:   exhibitionary complex, Pierre Bourdieu, audience response, class and gender, representing class

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