The Consumption of Culture, 1600-1800: Image, Object, Text
The mapping of the consumption of culture reveals a complex cultural organization of economic transactions, social institutions and ideological apparatuses that continually redrew the boundaries between social classes, between public and private life, between high art and low, and between men and women. As an inquiry into the consumption rather than the production of culture, the present volume looks upon the history of aesthetic artifacts as a history of their diverse receptions. Questions about artistic or authorial intentionality and technique give way to questions about utility and meaning. As the essays show, audiences do not exist prior to cultural production, they are its effect. Culture does not become 'culture' until it is consumed. The twenty-six contributors come from a wide range of historically oriented fields (historians of society, politics, ideas, science, literature and the arts). In many cases their research suggests the new proximity of interests and methods that, under the rubric of 'cultural history', has cut across areas of specialization and traditional disciplinary boundaries. While widely different in their emphases and methodologies, all the authors share an interest in challenging our ideas of culture, canon, period, gender, class, public, private, production, and, of course, consumption.
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