Turning Points: Essays in the History of Cultural Expressions

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Stanford University Press, 1997 - Social Science - 344 pages
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Through a combination of general reflections, studies of important critics, and both comprehensive and specific analyses of cultural change in literature, music, art, and philosophy, Turning Points demonstrates the role of style and form in promoting and shaping cultural development. The book proposes that works do not timelessly abstract, retrospectively reflect, or passively express; instead, they promote and shape historical change. Moving rather than consolidating, cultural expressions advance cultures not through what they say (musical works, in particular, say nothing) but through inventing new ways of communicating. Styles and forms are the vessels imagined by cultural works to convey ideas, ideologies, and structures of feeling and society. Hence, in contrast to much recent work in cultural studies, Turning Points argues that works of the imagination anticipate and produce the intellectual contexts adduced to explain them. In sum, Turning Points presents an interdisciplinary perspective on the achievements of modern European culture that blends fine-grained examples with broad considerations of both intellectual history and trends in literary criticism.

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