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Defending the Realm: Domestic Space and Mass Cultural Contamination in Howards End and An Englishman's Home Jon Hegglund University of California, Santa Barbara AMIDST THE GRANDEUR of the national pavilions lining the Rue des Nations at the Paris Exposition of 1900—from the Byzantine spired domes of the Russian pavilion to the grand neo-Classicism of the American—the English representatives to the fair expressed their homeland with a modest country house.1 Although incongruous with the display of monumental public architecture at a spectacle designed for the leisure of the urban masses, the English pavilion, designed by Edwin Lutyens, became an appropriate diplomat for England during a period in which the quintessential icon of the nation was the home. As the Arts and Crafts architect Edward Prior wrote in 1901, "[t]hat art of architecture , which in the eyes of other nations is mostly one of cities—of public buildings and public monuments—has to English taste lain in the separate house-building of individuals."2 One foreign visitor to England during the first decade of the century, the German architectural critic and ambassador Hermann Muthesius, confirms Prior's view: while on the continent, industrial modernity "caused mass migration into the cities, where people became imprisoned in giant multi-storied barracklike blocks," England "creat[ed] dwelling-places for individuals, making them into little separate worlds and concentrating and incorporating all the comforts of life in them."3 While the high cultural genre of architectural criticism propagated the idea that the house might be the essential correlative of English national identity, the idealized English house became an object of desire 398 HEGGLUND : DEFENDING THE REALM for the expanding middle classes as well. For a middle-class public that read voraciously, books linking ideas of nation and domesticity became something of a craze during the Edwardian period. The British Home of Today, The English House, The Modern English House, The English Home, The Growth of the English House, and English House Design: A Review were just a few titles published between 1904 and 1911 that celebrated good English taste in the house.4 Circulated through the machinery of consumer culture, Edwardian representations of the English house symbolized desires of national inclusion for many upwardly mobile middle-class consumers.5 Despite its class-crossing appeal, the Edwardian house figured England as a space of crisis as well as comfort. Drawing on Edwardian fears about the degeneration of the national body propagated in the popular press and by advocates of "national efficiency" such as Arnold White and Lord Rosebery, guardians of national domesticity claimed the house as a sacred space of Englishness opposed to the nationally subversive "disease" of mass-cultural consumption. Because an authentic English house was also "natural"—rooted in the landscape and projected as an extension of its owner's subjectivity—architectural representations often figured the house as a living organism. Drawing on a bodily metaphor to describe his vision of a healthy home, Prior contends that competitive capitalism has "established everywhere the cheap substitute in place of the genuine article. We have to take not only what does not suit us, but what is not the real thing at all—fatty compounds for butter, glucose for sugar, chemicals for beer: and just as certainly the sham house for the real building, its style a counterfeit, its construction a salable make-believe."6 Against "sham" houses, Prior proposes a wholesome English house uncontaminated by things artificial or massproduced . Using the house as an organizing structure of national ideology , Prior contrasts its healthy qualities to those of mass-culture, speculative house-building, and bodily deterioration; the health of individual bodies and the collective health of the nation are intimately connected in the quasi-organic space of the house. The identification of health in the house offers a way of regulating a space that reproduces both individual and national bodies. Caught between the uninhabitable inner city and the open space of the country, the suburban middle classes—designated by intellectuals as the "masses"—were the target of the regulatory discourse of the "healthy home."7 Speculators and builders sold the image of the healthy 399 ELT 40:4 1997 English house...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 398-423
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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