In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

HUMANITlES 553 The portrait that emerges is of an astonishing public figure uniquely representative of his time. Wagg is careful to relate Nobbs's beliefs and actions to their sources in the figures and literature of pertinent nineteenth -century aesthetic movements. This recurring comparative analysis is particularly welcome in a publication such as this, directed as it is to the non-specialist, and yet a significant contribution to scholarship. Wagg conSistently describes context, sources, and philosophy of design in her discussions of individual projects - good basic art history - but in the process manages to convey a rich tapestry of cultural traditions and expectations, at times transcending the confines of her subject. This format is noticeably weaker in the chapter on Planning, however, where there has been an over-reliance on Nobbs's own publications without adequate reference to the problems that were faced by the planning community in Canada. The lack of historical context undermines the entire chapter, which as a result is only a superficial survey of the architect 's personal efforts. Herein lies the most frustrating limitation of the book: the necessity of analysing Nobbs's work without the benefit of a detailed historical perspective on the intervening years. A comprehensive study of Canadian architectural and urban history is still waiting to be written, so Nobbs's impact on the profession can only be inferred from the information presented. Wagg has written a monograph that studies both a single figure and a critical period in Canadian cultural history. Her summation accurately isolates the heritage under which traditionalists like Nobbs and his contemporary John Lyle struggled, in the face of waves of European modernism . Theirs was the last generation to have confidence in historical sources of design. As Nobbs wrote sadly in 1956, 'by the end of the Second World War there was no money left to finance a cultural heritage ... We had to try to forget what the practice of architecture meant and content ourselves with accommodation engineering.' His humanistic legacy has perhaps never been more important than it is now. (ANNE M. DE FORT-MENARES) Timothy J. Reiss. The Discourse of Modernism Cornell University Press. 410. $28.50 The Discourse of Modernism represents the culmination of research whose results appeared in the mid-1970s in the form of a long series of articles, and finally in Tragedy and Truth (1980), a study of that genre's role in making possible a new kind of discourse ('the visible and describable praxis of what is called "thinking" '), one that functioned on the basis of analytical and referential 'truth.' This new work is an extensive in- 554 LETTERS IN CANADA 1982 vestigation into this modern 'analytico-referential' discourse: its emergence in the seventeenth century, its subsequent development, and its crisis today. Reiss's premise, a considerable precision (and elaboration) of certain key notions of Michel Foucault, is that, at any given time and place, one discursive class is dominant and so 'provides the conceptual tools that make the majority of human practices meaningful' (p 11). However, invariably, such a dominant theoretical model is accompanied by an equally dominant but occulted practice, a practice which gradually subverts the model by revealing or by creating such conflicting internal contradictions that forms of the practice itself begin to become tools of analysis. In the Middle Ages, for example, a totalizing 'theocratico-theological' model of relations (a 'patterning discourse') was rendered internally conflictual by the occulted feudal practice which, with the writings of Machiavelli, began to provide elements of what would become a 'capitalist ' analytic, or the 'analytico-referential' discursive model (pp 12, 96, 358). This, in turn, developed a new occulted practice - that of 'the enunciating subject as discursive activity' (p 42). Reiss traces the crisis in the medieval synchronic discourse of patterns of resemblance (as 'the system of transformations organizing a comprehension of society and the individual' p 49) in its manifestation in the problematic contradictions of More's Utopia, and in the confrontation and subsequent overt division in Kepler's Somnium of the old and the new classes of discourse. The new discursive order is premised on the coincidence of the syntactic order of semiotic systems (such as language) both with...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 553-555
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.