Chapter 2 takes on methodological issues arising from the manner in which fraud discourse entered culture. It considers the place of ordinary intellectuals, and fraud discourse’s large presence in daily and weekly journalism, including the aesthetic principles that could be invoked but did not need to be argued for. It considers how this default aesthetic worked when it was at rest, comfortably interacting with works that responded well to its modes of analysis. It then turns to this aesthetic when it was under stress, dealing with modernist works that resisted its forms of analysis. The chapter then considers modernist criticism’s irritations with the standard criticism of the time, and to the place of evidence in early twentieth-century aesthetic argument. It ends with the function of journalism’s gestures of refusal to engage with modernism, and the functions of jokes and doggerel in that refusal.
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