Whistler, James McNeill, 1834-1903. Symphony in white, no. 1: the white girl [visual works]
Courbet, Gustave, 1819-1877. Origin of the world [visual works]
Du Maurier, George, 1834-1896. Trilby.
Heffernan, Joanna -- Influence.
This article examines the links among Whistler's epochal White Girl (1862), Courbet's infamous L'Origine du Monde (1866), and George Du Maurier's best-seller, Trilby (1894). The most obvious connection is Whistler's one-time model and mistress, Johanna Hiffernan, the original of the White Girl, but also the probable model for Courbet's painting, and, I suggest, for Du Maurier's heroine, Trilby O' Ferrall. I argue that (a) Whistler's 1862 painting is a "sensation" painting, a visual assault that rejects narrative content for painterly abstraction, shocking the viewer out of a contemplative attitude to the art work, and thus part of a more general 1860s sensation culture that attempts to process modernity; and that (b) Du Maurier's novel is a piece of art theory in narrative form that demonizes his one-time room-mate, Whistler, as Svengali (his "abstraction" of Hiffernan into a "symphony in white" appears as Svengali's turning Trilby into an unconscious singing machine), but also that the recurring fetishism of Trilby in the novel (her much-worshipped feet, for example) suggests that Du Maurier knew of Courbet's "secret" painting of Hiffernan, and that he theorizes Whistler's modern abstraction as disingenuous—as another kind of fetishism that depends on harnessing Hiffernan's sexuality just as much as L'Origine does.
The case I make is that the key to Djuna Barnes's notoriously ornate, circular, obscure, hyperbolic style is the neobaroque, a category that refers to the recuperation of the "obsolete" styles, forms, and themes of the historical baroque by twentieth-century writers, both in Europe and the Americas. The baroque, Europe's first, pre-Enlightenment modernity, an alternate modernity and reason later vilified by the Enlightenment and Positivism as an aberration, is recovered when Enlightenment master narratives of reason and progress themselves enter into crisis. The neobaroque can establish a conversation between various critical orientations of Barnes criticism (formalist, feminist, and new historicist readings), as well as offer a transnational perspective on Barnes's modernism.
Warner, Sylvia Townsend, 1893- After the death of Don Juan.
Warner, Sylvia Townsend, 1893- -- Technique.
"As the photographer does," asserted Storm Jameson in 1937, "so the writer must keep himself out of the picture while working ceaselessly to present the fact." It was this same subversion of authorial subjectivity which assumed a radically new guise for late modernist women writers of the 1930s and 1940s such as Sylvia Townsend Warner, when they redressed novelistic experiment to find pragmatic and uncompromising ways of effecting an urgently needed historicizing critique of developing Fascism in Europe. Expanding the creative and critical efficacy of "realist" fiction itself as another world war loomed, it was Warner who actively engaged with the stylization of documentary and externalism by re-envisioning narrative impersonality.
War memorials -- Political aspects -- Germany -- Berlin.
Neue Wache (Berlin, Germany)
Through a juxtaposition of two recent memorials in Berlin—the Neue Wache in central Berlin and the "Places of Remembering" memorial in the Bavarian Quarter neighborhood—I explore ongoing controversies in the aesthetics and politics of remembrance in Germany.
After situating the study within the larger debate surrounding "collective identity" and "social memory," I draw on Walter Benjamin's notion of "dialectical image" in order to trace the fault-lines that fissure the Neue Wache memorial throughout its history, even as it is used repeatedly to forge national unity that conflates civil and military traditions in remembering the war dead.
Following a brief excursus in which I argue for the futility of Holocaust memorials oriented around the (im)possibility of representing historical catastrophe, I turn to the Bavarian Quarter memorial as itself constituting dialectical images which induce the lived or pragmatic perception of what Benjamin called "non-sensuous similarity" as a genuine historical experience.