Textual Realism and Reenactment

Part of the Reenactment History book series (REH)


This chapter introduces an aesthetic strategy that bears a superficial resemblance to pastiche, but involves more than just mimicking the idiom and style of another writer or painter. I call this strategy ‘textual realism’. It is a self-conscious and critically engaged form of intertextuality, whereby a modern film, novel or work of history incorporates references to and/or quotations from visual and literary sources dating from the period in which it is set. In other words, this strategy redefines the notion of realism and changes its target. Rather than attempt to represent directly the lived reality of a past era, it re-enacts the characteristic ways in which a past era represented its experience to itself.1 The idea of textual realism thus provides a way to sidestep the fact that we cannot have direct, unmediated access to the past. It turns this alleged problem into an intellectual and aesthetic challenge.


Comic Strip Consumer Society Closing Image Cultural Logic Animation Sequence 
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© Jonathan Walker 2010

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